The Kirkpatrick Model: Measuring the Impact of Sales Training

Nov 8, 2022

One of the most common questions our customers ask is how to measure the impact of their sales training. While there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, the Kirkpatrick Model is a benchmark framework that has been used for over 60 years across many disciplines to measure training effectiveness. In this post, I’ll outline the Kirkpatrick Model and how it applies to sales training.

In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Kirkpatrick Model including what it is, how to use it, and its benefits.

 

Cover of Mindtickle Sales Metrics Checklist and download button

What is the Kirkpatrick Model?

An integral part of any successful sales training program is measuring its contribution to skill building and improved performance. The Kirkpatrick Model is an internationally recognized tool for evaluating sales training results, taking any and all kinds of training into account, including formal, informal, in-person, and virtual.

With the level of visibility this model provides, sales leaders know which learning materials and formats are working to improve performance and which aren’t, helping to drive decisions and make changes that meet the team’s (and overall organization’s) needs.

The Kirkpatrick Model is comprised of four levels for evaluation:

  • Reaction
  • Learning
  • Behavior
  • Results

The four levels of the Kirkpatrick Model

Level 1: Reaction

This first level considers whether your reps found the sales training useful, engaging, and relevant to their role. It also allows you to discover topics that were missed in the training and topics that are redundant. Key to this level is actually utilizing the reactions and feedback you get to change the training program in ways that make a real difference.

Questions to ask:

  • Did your reps enjoy the sales training?
  • Was it a good use of your reps’ time?
  • Was the length of the training appropriate?
  • Did your reps feel comfortable participating?

How to measure it:

  • Feedback from surveys and polls
  • Learning completion rates
  • Gamification scores
  • Grading via quizzes
  • Feedback on subsequent performance by managers

When to do it:

Much of this can be measured during and immediately after the training has been completed. You can also establish a specific cadence (monthly or quarterly, for example) in which to measure whether the learning has been both adopted and retained over time.

Level 2: Learning

Next, the model focuses on measuring how much reps’ knowledge and selling skills increased as a result of training. This will vary from one company to the next, according to their different business objectives. To get the most accurate measurement, set a baseline by testing reps prior to participating in the training.

Questions to ask:

  • Have your reps learned what they needed to?
  • Have reps’ skills improved in the way that was intended?
  • How much have the reps’ skills improved as a result of the training?

How to measure it:

  • Knowledge certification
  • Sales skill certification
  • Program certification
  • Demo role-play certification

When to do it:

The degree to which some of these goals have been achieved can be measured during the training or immediately afterward. Others may require additional time to give reps the opportunity to absorb and practice selling skills. Again, the timeline is up to you based on how aggressive you want to be with developing competencies.

Level 3: Behavior

This measures how reps use what they have learned on a daily basis in their roles and how behaviors have changed as a result of the training. Managers must be very involved at this stage, in identifying and providing coaching to reinforce the changed behaviors.

Questions to ask:

  • Are reps using the knowledge and skills they learned?
  • How has performance changed as a result of the learning?
  • Have sales increased?
  • Did training help reps improve their selling skills?
  • Has time to productivity reduced? (for sales onboarding)
  • Are your sales reps aware that their sales skills have improved?

How to measure it:

  • Manager-driven evaluations
  • Identifying and closing gaps
  • Reviewing sales performance by teams or individual reps over time

When to do it:

Some of these training goals can be measured immediately, but many will require performance reviews over a longer period of time. This could, for example, involve periodically evaluating improvements in sales performance.

Level 4: Results

This measures business outcomes and performance as a result of the training. You’ll have to determine which benefits, outcomes, or other results are most closely linked to the training and put a system in place for quantifying those outcomes moving forward.

Indicators to measure:

  • Sales and revenue
  • Turnover of sales reps
  • Impact on specific stages of the sales funnel (e.g., demo conversions)
  • Number of calls/meetings held
  • Number of opportunities added to pipeline/CRM
  • Number of proposals/quotes submitted
  • Percentage of leads converted to opportunities
  • Percentage of opportunities converted to close
  • Average deal size per rep
  • Average deal cycle length
  • Percentage of forecast achieved

When to do it:

It’s important to look at these metrics in the early stages of a training program’s implementation to see where performance has improved and to correct the course in areas that still need refinement. Continue tracking them over time for insights into long-term changes.

Many leaders actually use the Kirkpatrick Model backward, starting with defining desired results and working backward to develop training that will drive them.

Benefits and limitations of the Kirkpatrick Model

As with any tool or initiative used within a sales organization, there are pros and cons to the Kirkpatrick Model.

In terms of pros, the model provides a scientific method for analyzing the impact of training. With its leveled approach, it offers clear steps to follow for evaluating reps individually, as well as gauging the performance of the greater team. The model works with different kinds of learning programs, whether you use a traditional program or a more sophisticated, digital solution.

However, there are a few downsides. While the Kirkpatrick Model has been continuously updated over time, its structure was developed over 60 years ago, and the way people learn and retain information has drastically changed since then — and it continues to evolve. Implementing the model will likely require a lot of time and resources and can be expensive to put in place. And finally, it doesn’t take into account how other factors like new leadership or new technology, can influence results. Mindtickle has the sales training solutions your team needs to kickstart a training program with ease. Quickly build competency and boost retention with tailored learning content for every sales rep. Learn more or request a Mindtickle demo today.


This post was originally published in August 2017 and was updated in November 2022. 

MSIRobot