What’s More Important in Top Sales Training Courses: Measuring Behaviors or Outcomes?

What’s More Important in Top Sales Training Courses: Measuring Behaviors or Outcomes?

In our last post, 2 Ways Sales Training Courses Can Develop Your Sales Management & Reps in 2019, we talked about a serious problem in top sales training courses: Investing more in what happens in the workshop than after. In this post, we’re focusing on another leading problem with sales training courses: measuring behaviors instead of outcomes. 

Pitfall #3: Measuring the effectiveness of sales training courses by BEHAVIORS rather than OUTCOMES

We all know that measuring the results of training is critical to long term sustainment of the program. But what do you measure? Most would say sales results or revenue. While obviously important, there are often too many market conditions to accurately associate the effects of sales training courses on the overall revenue number. If, however, you can link the core outcomes or milestones in the sales process (those that always predict success), then you can remove the variables and confidently assess whether your program is actually moving the dial. 

The key is to zero in on the five to eight simple outcomes the program (how we define competencies) was designed to achieve. Most sales organizations get overwhelmed or distracted by 50+ sales behaviors — the technique vs. the desired result. The key is to define the competencies by CUSTOMER outcomes and NOT by what the rep attempted to do (i.e., questions asked, communicated prescribed benefits, etc.).

Let’s consider a golf analogy.

A golfer’s success is based on a score (similar to a rep’s quota) but how do you measure the competencies golfers must possess that ultimately will determine that score? Some would say “look at their short game, that’s a key competency” or “look at their tee shot, that’s a key competency.” And they’d be right. It’s exactly like saying, “look at their prospecting, that’s a key sales competency.” Also right. But again, how do you measure that competency?

The key is to break sales down into competencies that can be measured by a pre-defined outcome. Let’s go back to the golf analogy. What if we broke down the “short game” into three competencies: chipping, sand shots, and putting? Now it becomes a bit easier to define and measure competencies. We can easily measure putting by the number of putters per round or sand shots by how close the ball consistently lands near the hole. It really DOESN’T matter how the golfer holds the putter or how “by the book” their stance is — and this is key. If they consistently have a low number of putts, there’s no need to get bogged down in all the elements that go into successful putting. Success is determined by the outcome (i.e. the ball consistently goes in the cup within an acceptable number of putts). 

Now let’s translate that into the sales environment.

Consider measuring a rep’s ability to effectively communicate the relevant Other-Centered benefits of their solution to the customer, the step of the sales process we refer to as “Build Value.” Should you first focus on the rep’s ability to communicate benefits, identify barriers, or handle objections? No. 

Successfully building value should be measured simply by whether the CUSTOMER embraced the recommendation and/or positively changed their opinion of the product/service/ company and was willing to advance. If the rep achieved this “outcome,” they were successful. If they achieve this “outcome” consistently, they are competent at building value and the training was successful. The “why” or “how” really doesn’t matter. 

If they failed to achieve the desired outcome, then the coaching begins. The manager zeroes in on the five or six key behaviors that contribute to success in building value (i.e., communicating benefits vs. features, handling objections, delivery) and diagnoses which behavior is causing the rep to miss the mark. Here the manager refers to the resources offered in their leadership training to create a development plan. 

Beyond creating a simple way to measure the success of the program, this approach to assessing performance offers two major benefits to the manager. First, the manager is able to quickly narrow the focus to the root cause of the problem (vs. wasting time measuring 50+ sales behaviors on every call). Secondly, managers will eliminate arguments with reps who are achieving results but don’t do it the “company” way. 

If they can consistently hit the ball 300 yards down the middle of the fairway with their putter, leave them alone.

To measure the effectiveness of the sales training courses, focus on the outcomes of the key competencies the program was designed to develop.

In summary, to measure the effectiveness of the program, focus on the outcomes of the key competencies the program was designed to develop. Results will be easy to measure and reps will embrace the assessment. Every golfer who wants to lower their score is motivated to learn their statistics on driving the ball, greens in regulation, etc. Additionally, senior leadership can easily connect the development of these competencies to overall results, ensuring the support and investment continues.

At ASLAN®, we offer some of the top sales training courses in the country, we understand that it’s important to find a program that’s worth the investment. So if you have any questions about our top sales training courses, feel free to reach out to us. And stay tuned for Pitfall #4 in our next post by subscribing to our newsletter

As Co-founder and CEO, Tom’s primary role is to create content that helps people live, sell, and serve more effectively. Find him on LinkedIn

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