4 Steps to Setup a Successful SKO

Jonathan Gandolf

February 6, 2023

4 Steps to Setup a Successful SKO

It’s officially Super Bowl season for the NFL…and Sales Enablement leaders everywhere. Tasked with planning their team’s annual Sales Kick-Off, The Juice gathered two experts to learn how to set your team up for a successful SKO. 

Melodie Schwartz from Spiff and Julia Soffa from Guru joined us to share their expertise on all things SKO. It was a pleasure to host this conversation. We weaved through a variety of topics, answered questions, shared what to do and what not to do. You can see the recording for yourself here: 

Personally, I filled several pages of my notebook with actionable takeaways. Throughout the conversation there were four lessons that stood out to me: 

1) Involve Leadership early and often 

A lot of opinions and ideas are poured into SKO planning. Perhaps the most difficult challenge in planning is distilling input, ideas, and feedback from a variety of sources into a cohesive event. 

Melodie shared several details about how she’s successfully navigated this process with the team at Spiff. Six weeks prior to the event, she begins planning the content for their SKO. At this point, she shares the content with her sales leadership team for very specific feedback that she can infuse into the remainder of the planning process. 

It doesn’t stop there. In the days before the SKO, they once again gather their leadership team to go through the final message and plan for the SKO. This is a final check for alignment and questions. But given that leadership has been involved to this point, she’s able to successfully manage through any last minute feedback. Which brings us to our next takeaway…

2) Be the business manager 

At this point, if you have shared context leading up to the event, you should feel empowered to not act on every piece of last minute feedback. You are the business manager and should have confidence in what you’re presenting. 

For last minute feedback, encourage everyone to let the event happen as planned. If there’s feedback post-meeting it can always be addressed then. 

What I love about this process is that it empowers the SKO leaders and sets the event up as only the first step in a series of continued learning for the sales team. Melodie called this their “Cadence for Learning” which will set the tone for ongoing education throughout the year. 

The SKO is just the first touchpoint in your annual cadence. This means you can treat those last minute content feedback points as part of a larger, evolving process. 

3) Embrace the journey 

Did we mention it’s Super Bowl Season? Well, that hit a little close to home for Julia who is the Principal Internal Communications Manager at Guru. Guru is headquartered in Philadelphia and hosting their Company Kick-off the days immediately following the Philadelphia Eagles playing in the Super Bowl. 

There are curveballs when planning an SKO and then there are “we are hosting a company kick-off in the heart of a city that could also be hosting literally millions of people for a Super Bowl parade at the same time” curveballs. 

You wouldn’t know there was concern in listening to Julia. Julia encourages all SKO (and CKO) leaders to embrace the journey. There are going to be changes leading up to an event, and changes during the event itself. If your company embraces the journey, it all becomes an opportunity. 

For Guru, they infuse their CKO with their core values. Their “values in action” moments allow their entire team to understand and embrace the larger picture for their business. The SKO should be about setting your team up for success but don’t lose sight of the bigger picture when it comes to bringing your team together. Embrace the entire journey…parade and all. 

4) Be stakeholder specific

There are a lot of stakeholders involved in an SKO. Sales leaders, the sales team, operations team, executive leadership, marketing, and more. One size does not fit all. That’s true in the content you provide and how you follow-up with the different stakeholders. 

It’s common practice to send a post-event survey. Do that. But don’t forget that different attendees and participants have different goals for the event. So when you send the post-event survey, take the time to make it stakeholder specific. This can ensure that different groups are receiving value and provide direction for how you continue the SKO education throughout the remainder of the year. A little extra effort in the survey exercise can carry a lot of weight with the results. 


These were just four takeaways from an incredible event with incredible leaders. You can learn more about Guru and Spiff below. If you’re interested in seeing more content to prepare for your SKO, you can do so on The Juice.  

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