How Omicron Is Impacting SKO Plans

An SBI pulse survey focused on commercial leaders' SKO and travel plans in 2022

Immediately following the announcement of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, commercial leaders began questioning their sales kickoff (SKO) plans and turning to SBI for peer comparisons and feedback.

In response, SBI Research launched a pulse survey to capture Omicron’s impact on SKO plans for 2022. Here’s what we learned.

In-person SKOs have returned. Sort of.

Seventy percent of the commercial organizations represented in this quick poll are planning either an in-person or hybrid – i.e., option to attend in-person or virtually – event. For many companies, this year’s SKO represents a chance to assemble teams for the first time in a long time, meet many new hires in-person, and of course, the usual suspects: celebrating accomplishments, building rapport, and learning. 

Q: How is your team currently planning to run its 2022 sales kickoff?

How is your team currently planning to run its 2022 sales kickoff?n=28

As of today, Omicron’s SKO impact is limited.
Only 13% of respondents have canceled large, in-person SKO events at this time. However, 27% of respondents stated that they will “wait and see”, and another 20% are either devising back-up plans for their planned event or offering employees the option to participate virtually. Forty percent of respondents have shared they will continue as planned. For those companies who have canceled larger events, some will host smaller, regional events, while others are shifting to a 100% virtual format.

Among those companies who will continue with their events as planned, most shared that their employees are eager to connect with their teams in-person after widespread SKO cancellations last year. And employee data supports this sentiment – on average, companies estimate that 80% of their employees are currently willing to travel for business.

Only 13% of respondents have canceled large, in-person SKO events at this time.

Varied travel restrictions
Our pulse survey saw the least consensus around how companies’ approaches to travel guidance. Respondents were split between “wait and see” and communicating restrictions. Among those with new restrictions in place, guidance varied:  

  • 19% of respondents are imposing limited international travel restrictions
  • 14% are restricting all international travel
  • 14% are restricting all business travel (domestic and international)

Anecdotally, many companies shared that travel requires executive approval at this time. 

SBI will continue to poll our network on this important issue and share any major changes in approach. For help prioritizing what topics to cover during your SKO, we have recently launched a new talent survey, aimed at capturing seller perceptions of their role and day-to-day responsibilities. Part of this work identifies the top drivers of an employee’s intent-to-stay with their current organization, as well as what impacts incremental effort on-the-job.

To learn more, please contact us.