Amp Your Sales Kickoff With the Perfect SKO Playlist

If you get the music right, it will hype up your audience and make a lasting impact.

By Stacey Epstein

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

So, here you are heading into year three of a pandemic. You're racking your brain for unique ways to motivate the sales team at what will now be yet another virtual kickoff. I can relate! We had big plans for our annual SKO. Flights were booked and we planned to gather all of our customer-facing teams in Denver, Amsterdam and Chennai. We would have three days of learning, bonding and — most importantly — motivating the team to elevate their game in 2022. Instead we were scrambling once again to move to a virtual agenda and still hoping to achieve the same goals. Oh, and by the way, half of us had Covid.

Well, it appears we did it. Feedback from our event this week was extremely positive and the sales team is buzzing. How did we do it? Of course we spent a great deal of time on the content of our presentations. We adhered to a few core presentation principles like short sessions of 20 minutes or less and limited text and bullets on slides. We mixed it up with panels, quizzes and fireside chats. We also forced dry runs and dress rehearsals to help our speakers raise their game.

The game changer: music. Adding a soundtrack to our story added deeper resonance, connected emotionally and created the mood we sought: energetic, thoughtful and optimistic. If you get the music right, you can whet your audience's appetite for the content and even shape their reaction to it. We put good thought into creating the full Freshworks SKO 2022 playlist on Spotify.

Related: Listen to Music All Day, Get More Done

Kick off your kickoff with pump-up openers

We started the show as people joined virtually with "Feel Good" by Saint Motel, one of my favorite bands of 2021. It's a lesser-known choice and the chat was blowing up with people asking about the song. A little mystique got the conversation started.

Another great tune from Saint Motel is "It's All Happening." Next we led into our CEO's session with a video accompanied by "I Feel Good" by Pitbull. No better pump-up guy than Pitbull, and who else to spark a global sales conversation than Mr. Worldwide? Another roof-raiser from him is "I Believe That We Will Win," which puts the mindset on accomplishment.

Our Chief Customer Officer, Paddy Rathinam, has mastered the 2022 art of grooving from his shoulders up, and it's downright infectious on Zoom. To make the most of music, all your speakers should have their cameras on and ask them to bust a move. You might have to get the party started, but that's okay. You can tell if you're revving up the audience by the chat comments, so make sure you leave them on as well.

Elevating keynotes

Our overall SKO theme was Elevate!, and each of our leaders had a different variation on that theme for their speech. The walk-up (or in this case Zoom-up) song for each matched their session. Our Chief Revenue Officer, Jose Morales, kicked off with "Start Me Up," a classic crowd-pleasing opener that everyone could jam along to. Next up our Chief Product Officer, Prakash Ramamurthy, used the indomitable Monday Night Football theme song tailored to our football-loving North America cohort. For rest-of-world it was "Eye of the Tiger" — a throwback special that felt surprisingly fresh.

The theme of my marketing presentation was winning, and how marketing can help the sales team win in 2022. My Zoom-up song was an easy choice — DJ Khaled's "All I Do is Win," which made everybody's hands go up. Our SVP of Product Marketing, Kevin Murray, joined me on the virtual stage with "All Star" by Smash Mouth, reminding our team of just how fantastic they can be. We closed out the keynotes with our shoulder-groover, Paddy, who came in on fire with "Let's Get it Started," by Black Eyed Peas. What better way to pump people up for the grand finale?

Interstitial engagement

Just like sporting events fill the downtime with trivia and games, in between sessions we featured fun quiz competitions. They focused on the material presented using Menti and took microphones off mute to spark conversation. While watching the results come in we played some game show favorites like the themes to "Family Feud" and "Jeopardy." The difference between a speaker trying to fill dead space and letting music create the mood is truly amazing.

A soaring close

We were all surprised by the impact of our closing song, "Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service — an energetic if slightly cooler track, ideal for reflection. It certainly reinforced the Elevate theme. And, after two intense virtual days, it was amazing to see how many people stayed on and listened to the full song, chatting and engaging all the while. It almost felt like the end of a live kickoff where people are standing around and bonding over what they just experienced. Try it!

Related: These 6 Types of Music Are Known to Dramatically Improve ...

Learnings: Prep your tech and have fun

Unfortunately, playing music or video on a Zoom meeting doesn't just work. Depending on your platform, take the advice of experts and optimize the quality of the sound.

Our post-event feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Of course, the quality of content and delivery played a huge role, but as one of our employees said, "We don't often get to see the lighter side of the leadership team...these gestures (music) make the experience more personal and brings the character of our folks out. It makes what is otherwise an in-human Zoom meeting, a bit more human :)"

Good luck with your virtual kickoff meetings, and enjoy the Freshworks SKO 2022 Playlist.

Related: 6 Simple Ways to Wow With Your Next Virtual Presentation
Stacey Epstein

CMO at Freshworks

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