Second Nature’s 9 tips to help you get ready for SKO 2024

BY:  Rebecca Herson
July 31, 2023
Updated on February 28, 2024

Table of Contents

It might feel like you’ve only just finished SKO 2023, but it’s not too early to think about SKO 2024. This year, among many other things, your SKO needs to reassure your sellers at the same time as informing, educating, and inspiring them.

The Importance of an SKO in 2024

SKOs are important every single year, to unify messaging across your sales teams and motivate them for a new year of sales. But in 2024, it’s even more important. Inflation is rising all over the world, there’s a threat of recession on the horizon, and markets are increasingly competitive. Business landscapes are evolving rapidly. With new technologies and emerging trends, sales teams need to be equipped with the latest knowledge and strategies to stay ahead.

It doesn’t help that many salespeople aren’t clear about where their company is headed. Post-COVID turbulence can still be felt in many industries, with changes to customer behavior still stabilizing. A number of businesses are feeling their way through back-to-office mandates, with the knock-on effect that sellers aren’t sure what to expect. Others are re-adjusting to working in the office after 2+ years of remote work. Given the rapid turnover in sales, 2023 was probably the first time that many salespeople worked in the same physical location as the rest of their team.

Your next SKO needs to boost everyone’s confidence and confirm your organization’s vision and plans, all while giving sales teams the tools to smash their quotas in 2024.

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 2024.

Decide on your SKO format

Once upon a time, it was a given that SKOs would take place in person, but COVID-19 threw that certainty out the window. Despite the return to in-person events, remote and hybrid SKOs are here to stay. In 2024, you get 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 connect with their colleagues face to face? Or do people miss the pajama-day-every-day experience of 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 SKO 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.


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Set your goals for SKO 2024

After 3+ years of turbulence of COVID followed by an economic downturn, you need clear KPIs more than ever. Some possible SKO goals include:
Discussing how to sell during inflation and/or recession
Redirecting the focus of your main product
Clarifying your organization’s vision for the future during uncertain economic times

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 SKO 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

Today’s climate of anxiety around the rising cost of living has left people in search of a fun distraction that takes their mind off their worries, 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

We might be a year on from the “end” of COVID-19, but there’s still a lot of uncertainty, particularly in tech companies. SaaS businesses that were booming during COVID-19 have seen sales slow down, and they’re working out how to relate to the new normal. This is likely to leave your sales employees seeking clarity about your company’s core value propositions.

SKO 2024 is a grand opportunity for a major reset. Ensure that everyone understands what it is you are really selling and why it is still relevant in the post-covid world. For example, it’s not just an automated accounting tool, it’s a way of reclaiming time for other tasks.

Build SKO 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 2024.

Double down on human connections

COVID-19 led to 2+ years of canceled events and missed opportunities, and people are still eager to make up for lost time. They need SKO 2024 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, use blended learning. 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 happen 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.

Second Nature Solution and SKO 2024

Second Nature’s AI-powered sales training solution is an ideal tool for planning your SKO 2024. With Second Nature, you can easily offer fun, gamified learning experiences that boost employee engagement and set the tone for your entire SKO.

Second Nature also supports a hybrid SKO, because employees can participate in the same sessions whether they’re attending in person or virtually. Use Second Nature’s interactive learning to extend the SKO experience beyond the core days of lectures and fun, and to include blended learning as part of the SKO process.

SKO 2024 could be the best yet

The bar is high for SKO 2024, 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.

In conclusion, although SKO 2024 brings many challenges, it’s also full of opportunities to strengthen employee relationships and enhance understanding of your core messaging. In 2024, your SKO is more important than ever, but with the right tactics, tools, and strategies, you can ace this challenge.

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 SKO and get great sales kickoff tips in our ebook.



What is SKO 2024?

SKO stands for Sales Kick-Off. Leading sales-oriented enterprises hold an SKO every year, and SKO 2024 is next year’s big event. It’s typically an event that the sales, sales enablement and marketing teams look forward to every year. .

What is the purpose of SKO 2024?

Like other SKOs, SKO 2024 is an opportunity for sales leadership to motivate, inspire, and educate their entire sales department. Big announcements about upcoming new features or products, changes in direction for corporate messaging, and modifications to compensation, quotas, or sales tactics are usually announced at the SKO.

With new technologies, emerging trends, shifting customer behaviors, economic turbulence, and highly competitive markets, sellers need different guidance than before. The purpose of SKO 2024 is to help sellers adjust to the new realities, equip them with the skills they need to sell in this atmosphere, and encourage them to take a positive attitude to sales.

What topics are typically covered at SKO events?

SKO events typically cover a range of topics related to sales and business strategies. These can include sales strategies, product and service updates, introducing new sales tools and technologies, and sales training, techniques, and methodologies. But SKOs are also a time for giving recognition and awards to top sellers, sharing customer success stories, and team-building for sales teams.

Can non-sales employees attend SKO 2024?

SKOs are focused around sales-employees, and the primary purpose is to educate and motivate salespeople. But many enterprises include non-sales employees in SKOs as well, because it can be a great way for them to absorb corporate messaging and learn about new products, even if they aren’t in sales roles. Including non-sales employees can also help foster company-wide relationships and cross-departmental collaboration.

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About the author

Rebecca Herson

Rebecca is head of marketing at Second Nature.

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