In-person sales kickoff events are always very fun. Of course, there is a degree of education present. However, the real fun comes from team building activities, drinks, and dinner. It’s a great start of the year and a well-executed sales kick-off event will set your team up for success.

On the other side, sometimes in-person events are not possible due to a wide variety of reasons. Some mentionable examples include pandemic or travel restrictions.

So what now?

The good news is that a virtual sales kickoff event is perfectly achievable. Of course it requires decent preparation - similarly to any virtual event. Have a look at this article if you’re looking for a guide on virtual event planning.

Virtual sales kickoff events will deliver similar value to in-person kickoffs if executed correctly. The question becomes, how are you going to ensure that everyone is paying attention. How do you ensure that your sales organization isn’t distracted and doing email instead?

Well, you’re at the right address. In this article, we will focus on virtual sales kickoff event ideas so your organization will get the most value out of the event

I will also shine some lights on virtual event platforms and how to host a virtual sales kickoff event.

What is a virtual sales kickoff?

A virtual sales kickoff is an annual event that’s used by the sales leadership team to celebrate success, motivate the sales organization, and to align on strategy. During the sales kickoff, the new go-to-market strategy is presented and teams participate in team-building activities.

Virtual sales kickoff events contain elements of education but also elements of fun. Sales kickoffs are usually held at the beginning of the fiscal year. At the same time, this means that the sales organization just finished its most stressful quarter, namely the last quarter of the fiscal year. In short, fun elements are most welcome!

How to host a virtual sales kickoff?

Hosting a virtual sales kickoff is in many ways similar to hosting a large virtual conference. It all starts with selecting the right hosting platform. More about this later.

You will need to select the right hosting platform based on the functional requirements of the event.

Typically, you want to select hosting platforms that:

I’ve developed a virtual event in a box that you can reference. This contains all the elements of most virtual events. You can download it for free here.

The benefit of hosting a virtual sales kickoff is that it is usually paired with fewer logistical nightmares compared to in-person events.

Virtual Sales Kickoff Platforms

Before we dive into the virtual sales kickoff ideas, a quick word on hosting platforms.

In general, I will advise you to go for similar virtual event platforms that are used for larger virtual events. You can find a list of 6 hosting platforms here.

What platform do you use for large virtual conferences

Those hosting platforms work well for when your sales team is a little bit larger. For smaller sales teams of a maximum of 50 people, I’d suggest going for either Zoom or Microsoft Teams. This will work just fine.

Now let’s focus on some virtual sales kickoff ideas.

1. Trophies and champagne

One key element of any sales kickoff is to celebrate success. Whether the kickoff is in-person or virtual, this element must be a part of your program.

The event being virtual is no excuse to not celebrate in the best way possible. Most salespeople have a keen interest in a good bottle of champagne. It’s been a hard and successful year, let’s all raise a glass.

Typically, at sales kickoff events, the top-performing salespeople are called to the stage and receive a price. This is the ideal time for the entire sales organization to raise a glass.

There is only one problem, everyone is far away. Well, don’t cheap out and send a bottle of champagne to the personal addresses of your sales team. They will love it and it’s a great opportunity to unite the team.

2. Murder Mystery

Another crucial element of the sales kickoff event is team building. Team building is important for the company culture and it makes everyone acquainted.

When it comes to a virtual sales kickoff event, it becomes a little more challenging. The good news is that there are great options out there though!

There are companies out there that organize murder mystery events. You will work together (or compete) to solve a murder mystery. This is a highly interactive activity that requires collaboration.

This is bound to entertain your sales organization and will ensure that there is a great vibe.

3. Virtual Escape Room

Similar to solving a murder mystery with your sales team, virtual escape rooms are a top-performing team building activity.

Most people have participated in an in-person escape room. If not, this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with it.

I always think it’s a great idea to put people from different regions on the same team. These are people that your sales team normally doesn’t communicate with. However, it’s still desirable to ensure that cross-regional sales relationships are strong. You never know when you need to collaborate to pull a new deal in.

During the virtual escape room, the teams have to work together to solve the puzzles. Salespeople are competitive so make sure there are some great prizes to win!

4. Gamification for optimal learning

Naturally, we can’t just keep doing things such as escape rooms. During sales kickoff events, the sales leadership team usually presents the new go-to-market strategy for the next year.

At the same time, there will be many enablement sessions that will set your sales organization up for success.

However, as it’s a virtual sales kickoff event, your sales team might start doing email and get distracted. By implementing gamification you will ensure optimal learning. Make it fun for your sales team to pay attention to the session.

This benefits your sales team but also the company as a whole. The better they are aligned with the sales guidelines, the higher the deals they will pull in.

Take a look at some gamification ideas here.

5. Make it feel real through gift bags

Similar to sending your sales organization champagne to celebrate success, you can also send them some virtual event gift bags.

You can send these to your top-performing salespeople to celebrate their achievements. Naturally, you don’t have to send a gift bag to your entire sales organization.

Though, you should definitely reward your top-performing sales individuals. Put them in the spotlight and take good care of them.

This will ensure employee retention and satisfaction.

Additionally, by sending gift bags, you make people feel that they’re included in the experience. They have something tangible. This is a completely different experience than just sitting behind the computer and looking at sessions.

By sending people a gift bag, they feel involved and they will be more engaged throughout the sales kickoff.

Here are some ideas for virtual event gift bags. 

6. Taking advantage of breakout rooms

Most virtual event platforms come with breakout rooms functionality. I strongly urge you to make the most use of this as possible.

The benefit of using breakout rooms is that you will divide your audience into smaller, and more manageable groups.

At the same time, this will improve the level of interaction. When you have a large group, interaction just becomes really difficult. So, whenever you have a chance, make sure you divide the group into smaller groups.

This really opens the possibility for discussion, workshops, learning sessions, and much more.

If you’re using Zoom as your virtual event platform, have a look at this guide on how to use breakout rooms on Zoom.

Before hosting a virtual sales kickoff event, it’s good to understand some learnings from people who’ve hosted many virtual events.

Take a look at these 10 Expert Virtual Event Learnings from 50+ events.

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Written by
Ricky Wolff
Ricky's North Star is growth. He is the founder of Markletic, a blog about growth hacking and demand generation in marketing.