Jul 7, 2022
A quick search on LinkedIn will return a lot of VP of sales enablement roles, but not so many equivalent roles for sales readiness. It’s not surprising; sales enablement is a more venerable concept, and it’s been widely adopted in the market. Sales readiness, on the other hand, is gathering steam because sales organizations increasingly need to justify their sales enablement expenditure by understanding its impact on their business. Tightening budgets require sales leaders to gauge the impact of enablement, but most enablement organizations are unable to provide the level of detail to leadership. For Mindtickle, these realities are at the core of our company vision and it’s why I was named the VP of Sales Readiness earlier this year.
In this post I’ll talk about the Kirkpatrick model, using results to measure success, and building an ideal rep profile. Over the next few months, I’ll share more about how Mindtickle approaches readiness within our own organization, and offer tips that may affect the way you think about implementing and measuring the impact of your own readiness programs.
What is the Kirkpatrick model?
Those familiar with the Kirkpatrick model know that reaction (how enablement participants feel about training) is a common surrogate for success. In this case enablement leaders gauge effectiveness based on participation and feedback rather than impact. Reaction is a common approach because enablers have typically had neither the charter nor the tools to develop a defensible ROI.
Kirkpatrick recognizes that while reaction provides some feedback about the value of enablement efforts, the ultimate goal is to measure the results of your efforts against targeted outcomes.
Here’s the full Kirkpatrick hierarchy:
- Reaction – Is training favorable, engaging, and relevant?
- Learning – Did participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitude, confidence, and commitment needed to succeed?
- Behavior – Is learning applied on the job?
- Results – Did your efforts result in targeted outcomes?
Measure impact by focusing on results
It sounds like a cliche, but I’ve been a results-focused professional for some time, so the Kirkpatrick levels make a lot of sense to me. For the last 15 years, I’ve worked for companies seeking to improve results through improved sales training, practice, and execution. During that time, I’ve found that most companies struggle to get beyond anecdotal evidence of the impact of their efforts on the business. . As a result, anecdote-driven programs can lead enablement teams down unintended paths with the potential for significant opportunity costs.
That’s why my team focuses on results to measure success—which takes me back to my preference of readiness over sales enablement. Readiness requires you to demonstrate measurable impacts on the business, while traditional sales enablement approaches are often less ambitious.
First things first as VP of sales readiness: building an ideal rep profile
As a readiness team, we do traditional sales enablement, which is critical but only a part of our charter. Our programs start with role-based competency models that are aligned to revenue (we call these ideal rep profiles, or IRPs). We base each IRP on CRM data, so there’s a clear correlation between skills and outcomes. From there, we are responsible for the following:
- Delivering sales enablement to buyer-facing teams, including role-play practice and spaced reinforcements to ensure that reps retain the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the field
- Providing contextual, ad hoc content for use in on-the-job training and buyer interactions
- Monitoring conversations between our sellers and buyers, using conversation intelligence software, to track the use of learned skills in real-world situations
- Providing feedback and coaching guidelines for frontline managers to remediate skill gaps with bespoke coaching–and automatically assigning training remediation
- Measuring and scoring all of the individualized knowledge, skills, and behaviors we track against Salesforce performance data using Mindtickle’s Readiness Index
- Analyzing the correlations between top performers and their Readiness Index scores to ensure that we have our competency model right–and then making adjustments to either the competencies or their weighting over time as things inevitably change (Our company’s GTM, the competitive landscape, changes to the economy, etc.)
Building from the IRP with each of these steps gives my team an important role in improving employee productivity, informing hiring decisions, and more. Looking at our role from the perspective of the Kirkpatrick model, this approach enables us to hit on all cylinders:
- Measuring reaction through engagement and completion
- Delivering and testing learning through sales enablement, assessments, role-plays, and reinforcement exercises
- Ensuring proper behavior using conversation intelligence to tell us how well reps do against the competencies that count–and then coaching to address skill gaps
- And measuring results by correlating competency attainment against the same metrics that are used to determine sales success
I must admit that we have the advantage of using our own platform to achieve these goals, but that’s another reason why I took this job: I know that we have the tools to make us successful!