As the 2011 calendar year winds down, many sales enablement professionals are working on their sales kickoff initiative for the coming year. These large-scale events are an integral part of annual cycle, where the sales team converges on a fully prepared hotel for a days-long pep rally full of content sessions, vision-setting, and plenty of networking. Many of the sales kickoffs we hear about, and participate in, are focused on motivating and inspiring the sales force to hit their annual quota, or better yet, set new sales records.  

While a healthy dose of motivation for the sales force is always important, next year's sales kickoff may require a healthy dose of reality as well.

It seems the expense of sales kickoffs is being scrutinized more than last year at higher levels of the organization. In fact, many of sales enablement professionals we talked with this quarter are being asked to justify the sales kickoff investment by their CEO. On top of that, sales leaders are asking for a more specific description of what's going to happen in the sales kickoff, and how the content in the event is going to help their salespeople drive the sales process forward. Both of these views – the view from the top and the view from the trenches – converge at a seemingly simple, yet often difficult to answer question:

"What's the expected impact of the sales kickoff next year?"

In response to this question, many sales enablement professionals have set specific goals and measures for their 2012 kickoffs. In addition to the planning that's already underway, they’re thinking about how they can use this year's annual event to set the stage and precedence for 2013 and beyond. For example, they're wondering what they can do this year to more clearly articulate the value and impact of sales kickoff to their CEO, while at the same time gathering data and information they need to inform the decision-making and planning process for their 2013 sales kickoff.

In short, the sales enablement professionals responsible for planning their sales kickoff are thinking differently about this year's event.

When it comes to your sales kickoff, what are you up to? Share your most important sales kickoff metric here, and look for my upcoming doc on what to measure and how to make the case for changes you want to make next year.