How Can You Measure the Success of Sales Training?
So, how can you measure the success of sales training?
You have to ensure your internal presentation on measuring sales training is successful.
There are few things that have a more direct impact on the execution of your existing sales team than sales training. Despite this, sales training can get a bad rap for reasons such as:
- It takes reps out of the field
- It is just an event, so nothing happens
- The content is not relevant to the role,
- You don’t have a partner that gets you or,
- It’s just is not effective. But you feel strongly about it.
About three months after you’ve implemented a training program, you are asked to present the business impact or ROI on what was likely a significant investment. You’ve implemented the perfect plan, but other than a few anecdotal successes, you don’t have a good story, or any story at all, to share. That’s bad for everyone.
Without a doubt, the best sales training measurement is revenue: Spend time and money and help the team sell more. But several things affect revenue, good and bad, while sales training is going on.
If sales are down, you will be on the hot seat for sure. But, if that’s related to some other, outside macroeconomic condition, you’ll want to be able to isolate and show the positive impact of your initiative.
For example: After a training implementation a few years ago, a client was thrilled that they had negative 5% growth! Why? Because their industry was down 20%, so they were 15% better.
On the other hand, if revenue is up, you also need to demonstrate the impact of training, because there will be plenty of colleagues fighting for the credit: marketing, product management, operations, even though you should get it.
Follow these four steps and you can help ensure the resources you invest in sales training have a good impact and you and show what it is — and take the credit.
Start with the basics.
Program delivery and comprehension are important starting points.
If you follow Kirkpatrick’s model, these are level 1 and 2. Simple to do, right? Regardless if it’s digital, classroom, or blended, be sure you can tell a clear story about the reaction of the participants on the relevance to their role and if they think it will help them improve their results. For comprehension, ensure there is some type ‘graded’ assessment.
Yes, just because someone knows the five steps to overcoming objections doesn’t mean they can actually do it. But, if they don’t know the five steps, it will be impossible for them to implement. Qstream is a simple, effective tool to help participants revisit materials to answer questions. There are others.
Just do something to avoid the forgetting rule while measuring the reps scores at the same time. For example, 100% is great, but over 80% is a solid comprehension rate. If you see lower, it’s time to dig into what the common issues are and address them. Top sales managers and Learning and Development Leaders don’t care about these things so much, but to deliver on the things they do care about, you’ll need to measure program delivery and comprehension reaction if things are not going to plan.
Focus on the differentiators.
Real impact on sales results comes from driving the right behavior changes and a lift in 2-3 key, leading indicators. Let’s start with behavior change.
To start, you have to differentiate between the sales team roles: Are they hunters or farmers? Is the focus on the one-to-one skills or strategic skills? Whatever it is, find a simple and clear way to assess those abilities before training and then at two or three points after training.Be sure the same, neutral group, does the assessment so it’s consistent.
Usually, you can leverage the sales managers to observe a sample set of sales calls or meetings and ‘score’ each key capability: engage, discover, build value, advance, as an example. A scale from 1-4 works best because it’s not about every single person, but instead just a sample of the population trained. If the team’s discovery skills improved from a 2.2 to a 3.1, nobody will argue with you that it will lead to a positive impact.
To ensure that behavior change does impact revenue, it’s best to identify a few key leading indicators that the rest of the sales management team buys in to. Most organizations measure the number of calls or meetings, but sales training doesn’t really drive those numbers.
Instead, determine the two or three things in your sales process that are important, and highly correlated with closed business that requires solid sales execution. For example, the number of discovery meetings, pre-sales assessments, completed customer demos, initial prescriptions, credit applications, and many others that are specific to your business.
Most importantly, make sure the team buys into the key behaviors and leading indicators to improve, and benchmark them BEFORE training starts. Then, make sure that everyone working on the training project, especially trainers, knows what they are.
Here’s what we recommend:
1. Start with a pilot if you can.
The best way to determine impact, if you have the time, is to create two groups. One that gets trained and one that doesn’t. Make sure they are similar: the same place with the same products, the same experience level, and similar results. If training is the only difference between them, you can bet that any difference in behaviors, leading indicators, and revenue is from training.
2. Set expectations.
Be patient. Whenever you are changing people’s habits and behaviors, things might get worse at first. Think about the last time you took a golf lesson to change your swing and played horribly for a few rounds. Or, you rented a car and the brake and gas pedals felt different, resulting in some rough starts and stops. Change takes time when we move out of our comfort zone. A slight downturn in behaviors or leading indicators is a good sign that people are trying. The coaching environment should be positive.
Initially, focus on quantity not quality. They’ll improve. But soon, things should start to improve. Then, you should start working on your big presentation and prepare for the celebration.
Congratulations and enjoy the fanfare.
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