Suppose you had a very large database—an ocean of “Big Data” — that you could mine for reliable answers to questions like these:

  1. Which key sales skills will a given sales training program improve, and by how much?
  2. Assuming that these skills can be measurably improved, to what degree will salespeople actually use them on the job?
  3. How can I prove to a skeptical CEO that an increase in sales revenue following a training program is definitely a result of the training and not due to other changes in our company or its markets?
  4. If I am choosing a sales training program, how can I know in advance which one will, in fact, produce measurable skill improvements that will translate into measurable business results?

A database that could answer those questions sounds like a fantasy, doesn’t it? But today that Big Data actually exists.

Two decades ago, my company, The Sales Board, formed a development team of software engineers and psychometricians to create a validated instrument that would reliably measure factors pertaining to Action Selling training. Those factors include how much knowledge a salesperson has about each of the five Critical Selling Skills that Action Selling teaches; how much that knowledge level improves after training; and how well the person is able to use the knowledge on the job.

That last point—measuring the application of skills and knowledge on the job—is the real link to proving a direct connection between sales training and a subsequent increase in sales revenue.

We now have compiled 20 years’ worth of data on 400,000 salespeople from more than 3,500 companies in a broad range of industries. Our SQL relational database contains about 78 million data points.

Yes, you can measure critical sales skills

Research has proven that sales success is most affected by five Critical Selling Skills. Action Selling isolates and teaches those skills. They are:

  1. Buyer/Seller Relationship
  2. Sales Call Planning
  3. Questioning/Listening
  4. Presentation Skills
  5. Gaining Commitment

The “big data” we have amassed over 20 years allows us to look at each of the five Critical Sales Skills (and at all five together) to determine the average starting point for students, prior to training, in both knowledge and ability to apply the knowledge. We also can determine the levels that students reached upon certification in each skill. We then can calculate (in percentage terms) the skill gain that occurred, in both knowledge and application, as a direct result of sales training.

In previous editions of eCoach, I showed what the data reveals for the first four of those critical skills. Here are the results for the final skill, Gaining Commitment…

Duane Sparks

About Duane Sparks

Duane Sparks is founder and chairman of The Sales Board, the authoritative source of practical and leading-edge information about the art and science of selling.  He has created Action Selling sales training products and learning systems that transform sales organizations.  Duane is author of these best-selling books: Action Selling, Selling Your Price, Questions (the Answer to Sales), Masters of Loyalty (How to turn your sales force into a loyalty force), and Sales Strategy from the Inside Out (How complex selling really works).

Discover how the best sales training process can make spectacular improvements in sales skills. Action Selling: How to Sell Like a Professional (Even If You Think You are One).