If you ask most training suppliers for objective evidence to backup their claims about a program’s virtues or its impact on business results, they will answer evasively and then change the subject.
We love it when we’re asked to support our contention that sales people who certify in Action Selling will make more money for themselves and their companies. Why? Because we can.
In 2010 an independent study by The Aberdeen Group, an international research firm with U.S. headquarters in Boston, verified that salespeople trained in Action Selling—and their companies—reported dramatic year-over-year improvements in every sales-results category that matters. They hit quotas more often. They landed bigger deals. Their customer retention rates soared. And their sales cycles were quicker.
Action Selling-trained sales people get better in every category that matters.
To say these gains were dramatic is putting it mildly. For instance, 34 percent of the Action Selling companies saw their salespeople’s average deal size go up from the previous year,compared with only 19 percent of companies that did not use Action Selling. And more than twice as many Action Selling companies(27 percent vs. 14 percent) saw customer-retention rates rise.
That is solid, objective evidence that Action Selling teaches the right skills. But for real-world results like these to follow from a training program, the skills can’t just be “taught;” they must be learned. The performance gains found in the Aberdeen study imply that valuable new sales skills actually must have been mastered and used on the job—by no means a safe assumption with most training programs.
Separate research confirms that this is, indeed, true. A study by The Sales Board examined 50,000 salespeople who underwent Action Selling training and achieved certification in 2010. It found a 44percent improvement in knowledge and application of the Five Critical Selling Skills taught in the program.
Using validated testing instruments that measure both knowledge and the ability to apply skills in realistic situations (the only such validated instruments in the industry), the study found that pre-test scores averaging 57 percent jumped to 82 percent upon certification—a 44 percent skill gain.
Scores for each of the Five Critical Selling Skills rose as follows:
- Managing the buyer-seller relationship – from 55 percent to 82 percent.
- Sales Call Planning – from 57 percent to 81 percent.
- Sales Questioning Skills – from 60 percent to 85 percent.
- Sales Presentation Skills – from 58 percent to 79 percent.
- Gaining Commitment – from 50 percent to 81 percent.
What do these numbers mean? They mean that Action Selling is designed in such a way that salespeople are highly likely to master the knowledge and skills that it teaches. And they mean that these skills really do produce dramatic results when applied in genuine sales situations.