How to Design and Measure Your Online Sales Training

If your business is like most others, your sales team is made up of “B” and “C” level sales reps along with a handful of stellar “A” performers. Your “A” players consistently achieve quota and do so profitably. As a sales enablement manager, you are dealing with different levels of motivation and potential among your sales reps. In order to achieve success in your market, you must help your sales reps cultivate and realize their potential and fast.

Over 73% of ‘C’ Players never make their quota and 68% ultimately leave the company (usually not voluntary). With those almost insurmountable stats, why should Sales Management even bother working with ‘C’ players? Because 15% of them turn out to be your best ‘A’ players. Coaching them is extremely important.

Having the right data at your fingertips enables you to be a nimble manager. When your sales team is a diverse set of individuals with different skill levels it is critical to get the insight needed to provide appropriate coaching to each individual in such a way that is both manageable and focused on getting your sales rep to “A” player levels of productivity as quickly as possible.

Citi: a real-life example

One of the most important sales behaviors is demonstrating to prospects the benefits that your products offer. A key objective for sales training is to increase the number of benefits-focused conversations while decreasing the number of features-focused conversations. According to a Huthwaite study, the Citi sales training team used behavior analysis techniques to assess a range of sales behaviors including this key objective: increasing benefit-focused conversations.

In their evaluation, Citi trainers were able to count the frequency of both features and benefits in sales calls before and after the training event. After observing 46 sales calls prior to the training, the average number of benefits per call before training was 0.9, while there were, on average 4.2 features per call. At the end of the training, sales managers observed the number of features and benefits made by their 46 trained reps. The results were powerful. Benefit conversations had more than doubled, while feature-focused conversations had fallen almost by half. This story provides a convincing argument for the importance of measuring behavioral cues on the fly during sales training in order to accurately measure the impact of your training.

Your online sales training platform should provide sales coaches with this kind of behavioral data critical to evaluating whether the program is profitably delivering reps that meet and exceed necessary performance criteria. On a crowded playing field, competitive advantages like this can make a major difference and deliver significant gains. Imagine what you’d be able to achieve if your “B” players started selling like your “A” players.
Here are some questions to consider to ensure the effectiveness of your online sales training now and in the future:

  • Does your sales training help you predict if the new hire is going to become an “A”, “B” or “C” player?
  • Is your online sales program training your reps on what they need to know to be proficient in their position?
  • Does your sales manager know in advance what are the strengths and weaknesses of new hires?

New sales reps are often overwhelmed with by the sheer volume of product features and the complexity of prospective customer questions. In order to develop consistently high-performing sales reps, your sales training results should be predictable in overcoming these knowledge hurdles. In essence, data from your sales training platform should show you information on how your sales reps are tracking toward productivity.

Having this data on hand in real-time allows you to intervene and adjust your sales training program as needed to coach your team to success. Here’s a quick primer on how to look at data and make decisions from your sales training.

Sales training performance data to measure

  1. Overall sales readiness (eg. performance trajectory)– Your most experienced “A” player sales reps are a good indicator of what success looks like for your business. With this as a measuring stick, you should be able to gauge an individual sales rep’s performance trajectory during sales onboarding enabling you to tell if they are on track to be an “A”, “B” or “C” player.
  2. How knowledgeable is the sales rep? In order to ensure that each rep is up to speed and prepared, you should measure the knowledge or your sales reps regularly which tells you how well he or she is performing on priority information. Once they’re on the platform, managers can make informed, timely actions to ensure sales reps aren’t leaving opportunities on the table. For example, test your field sales rep’s ability to handle objections to evaluate their readiness. If the sales reps are underperforming, coaching support can be delivered contextually. By contrast, if a rep with good knowledge score is not closing, it may be a lead quality issue.
  3. How engaged is the sales rep? How do you predict the level of engagement that leads to A player or B player sales reps? An engagement score indicates whether or not your sales reps are engaged with the training. For instance, a company with a complex product may need more frequent training updates and different kinds of ongoing learning than a company selling a product in a mature market. Sales managers need to ensure that reps stay up-to-date on the latest product features, success stories, and sales communications and intervene when sales reps are disconnected.

In short, there are many variables that contribute to increased sales – better compensation structures, sales training, additional incentives, marketing campaigns, etc… In order to get a clear reading on sales training impact key objectives such as increasing benefit-focused sales conversations, reducing your sales cycle, improving response rates, and reducing the number of touchpoints that your sales rep has with a prospect before a conversion. In the next blog post, we’ll explore how to align sales readiness, rep knowledge, and sales engagement data against core objectives like these. Stay tuned!