SKO 2022 & 2023 – 9 tips to help you get ready

BY:  Rebecca Herson
May 18, 2022
9 MIN. READING

It might feel like you’ve only just finished SKO 2022, but it’s not too early to think about SKO 2023. This year, among many other things, your SKO needs to reassure your sellers at the same time as informing, educating, and inspiring them.

Economies have yet to stabilize, there’s a threat of recession on the horizon, and many salespeople aren’t clear about where their company is headed. Some may be nervous about whether they’ll still have a job in 6 months time. Your next SKO needs to boost their confidence and confirm your organization’s vision and plans, all while giving sales teams the tools to smash their quotas in 2023.

Feeling overwhelmed at the thought? You’re not alone. But don’t worry, we’re here to help. That’s why we’ve put together this list of suggestions and support to help you get a head start on SKO 2023.

Decide on your format

Once upon a time, it was a given that SKOs would take place in person, but now that certainty has gone out the window. You need to decide if your SKO will be remote, in-person only, or hybrid.

Take the pulse of your sales employees to see how they are feeling. Does it seem like people are eager to reconnect with their colleagues face to face, and make new connections with members of the sales team that they haven’t yet met? Or is there a general preference for remote everything? Maybe you want a hybrid SKO that includes in-person socializing and bonding opportunities, great virtual experiences, and the opportunity to easily include distant employees and teams?

Your decision will impact on many other things, like what technology you’ll use, the timeframe of the SKO, who to include, and more.

Consider your timeframe

Traditionally, SKOs are an intense few days that pack a lot in, but many companies discovered last year that a virtual SKO could continue for many more days, weeks, or even months.

This year, you could combine both worlds. A core SKO can cover a few days of in-person activities and events, giving your sales teams the opportunity to reconnect with business leadership in person, and hear about the company’s future directly from their mouths.

But you can also schedule virtual SKO experiences, sessions, and mini-conferences over a much longer time period to give your sales employees more time to absorb information and boost their selling skills. Tools like Second Nature’s artificial intelligence (AI)-powered software mean your sales teams can keep learning on an ongoing basis, and each SKO just ramps up the volume and excitement.

Set your goals

After 2+ years of turbulence, you need clear KPIs more than ever. Some possible SKO goals include:

  • Bringing everyone together again after years of remote work
  • Redirecting the focus of your main product
  • Clarifying your organization’s vision for the future during uncertain economic times
  • Reestablishing the company’s primary values after they got a little muddled during the intensity of COVID-19

These are big questions that demand time, research, and internal discussion before you answer them, so it’s not too early to get started.

Appoint your team

Take advantage of having plenty of time to work with and appoint your SKO organizing team now. Encourage them to set deadlines for key tasks like assigning roles, identifying guest speakers, inviting people to present, etc. so as to avoid any last minute stress.

Communicate to your sales managers well in advance what you’ll need from them in terms of information before the event, and what role you want them to play during the event. Be specific about everything you need before, during, or after the event, and give them time to deliver.

Bake in the fun

People are yearning to rediscover the life that was eclipsed by COVID-19, so sales teams need an exciting SKO more than ever. Kicking off the kick-off prep now means you can put more energy into planning motivating experiences, sessions that really are inspirational, and enjoyable activities that will rekindle engagement among your sales employees.

Liven up your SKO with interactions that work both online and in person, like sales competitions (you can run these with Second Nature!), live pop quizzes and polls, etc. Encourage active participation with competitions, games, contests, and more. Look for ways to use tech to actively involve your audience, so they’ll remember the product playbook and pitch techniques long after the grand finale.

Do a reset on the big picture

A lot has changed over the past year. Markets are still in flux, cost of living is rising, and economists are warning about a market slowdown, all of which is likely to leave your sales employees seeking clarity about your company’s core value propositions.

SKO 2023 is a grand opportunity for a major reset, especially if it’s the first time that all your sales personnel are in the same place in a very long time. Ensure that everyone understands what it is you are really selling; for example, it’s not just an automated accounting tool, it’s a way of reclaiming time for other tasks.

Build excitement early

Don’t wait until a few weeks before the SKO to send out invitations. Begin driving interest and excitement among your sales employees right now.

For example, you could make a popup on your central sales management platform that counts down the days until the first day of the SKO, or regularly drop teasers into your Slack channel about the exciting theme, mystery speaker, or surprise event that’s waiting for them at SKO 2023.

Double down on human connections

If your sales teams have been working remotely since COVID struck, they might have endured 30+ months without anyone looking each other in the eye. They need SKO 2023 to connect and bond as a team, especially if you had to make a lot of lay-offs in the last year.

To enable bonding without disrupting the ground you need to cover, try to cut down on frontal lectures and ramp up on team discussions, role play practices, and small group sessions that are more conversation than instruction.

Keep it flexible

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the pandemic years, things can change. By starting early, you can build contingencies into your plans. Consider various possibilities of what could happy between now and your scheduled SKO – both good and bad, and think about how you might need to adjust your SKO to meet these changed conditions. It may feel frustrating to basically plan for multiple options, but this way you won’t get caught unprepared.

SKO 2023 could be the best yet

The bar is high for SKO 2023, but you can clear it with ease when you start working on it well in advance. You need time to make big decisions like SKO format, timeframe, and agenda, and the sooner you get started, the better you’ll be able to weave fun and bonding together with strengthening skills and communicating product information and value propositions.

We’d be happy to speak with you about how to make your SKO more interactive with Second Nature’s AI coaching software. You can also learn more about planning for your sales kickoff in this ebook.

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About the author

Rebecca Herson

Rebecca is head of marketing at Second Nature.

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