In my previous posts — How Effective are Your Sales Training Programs? and Order Matters: The Sequence of Sales Training Measurement — I made a business case for measuring the impact of sales training and explained the proper sequence to do so.
At this point, you should be ready to establish your own measurement strategy for sales training . But first, I’ll share five guiding principles to help you through the process.
- Principle One: Start Where You Want to End
When you start with the end in mind, your measurement plan will be more likely to address those things that matter most to your business. You will be aligned with the outcome that you are trying to achieve. If you identify best practices and then establish current performance as a baseline, you can see where opportunities for improvement exist and track changes along the way.
- Principle Two: Feedback Is a Gift
Giving feedback to the individual going through training should be part of the learning journey. For everything that is measured, make sure the individual has the opportunity to see his/her results and be a part of an ongoing developmental dialogue. Put the individual in charge of his/her learning, and help him/her understand how to use that information to guide his/her continuous learning. When he/she expects and get feedback, there is more engagement and compliance.
- Principle Three: Methodology Matters
It is best to measure performance in a way that aligns with direct experience. In sales training, it’s about client situations and how people behave with clients. And, when you anchor measurement to the best practices that people should be exhibiting, it reinforces the behavior that you’re trying to achieve. At Richardson, best practices tend to focus on strategy rather than tactics; they’re focused on the customer rather than the sales professional; and, they advocate question-led dialogue over just telling someone the solution.
- Principle 4: Use the Right Tools at the Right Time
For people in the field, tools need to be mobile, and the time that it takes to complete the measurement task needs to be minimal. At Richardson, mobile-based skills testing takes less than a half-hour. We also have a mobile knowledge-retention tool that takes only five minutes every other day, presenting a question, multiple-choice answer, response, and explanation. When we conduct impact surveys, there are a maximum of 12 questions. We also make sure to incorporate these measurement and feedback mechanisms into their everyday lives.
- Principle 5: Blend Data with Stories
Use both quantitative and qualitative measures to see the big picture on measurement. Statistics will not be enough. Make sure to also capture stories and observations, and then blend these with the numbers. Consider how much more effective the following two scenarios are when context is added and told as feedback from training participants:
- “I improved my listening skills and let the client talk more. As a result, I won a more than $700,000 sale with a major utility. I have been working on negating a bad habit of interrupting the client during his/her “This is what I want” speech.”
- “There was an existing business situation (approximately $10 million annual revenues). I recently took over as the new account manager. I’ve been using the questioning, positioning, and checking skills learned in class, and this has been successful for me. The latest NPS score is a 9 “Promoter,” with “Good Support” as the reason for recommending us.”
With these principles and the sequence of measurement, you should be well on your way to implementing a measurement strategy for sales training before the process even starts. And, Richardson is always here to help you get started.