A WORD FROM DUANE SPARKS
Dear Sales Executive:
How often have you wished that you could justify the time and expense of sales training with hard numbers that demonstrate training’s impact on bottom-line sales performance?
That kind of hard evidence is something the sales-training industry has always lacked—until now. “Big data” has come to the world of sales training. Today we not only can prove the value of great sales training, we can actually measure its impact on salespeople within particular industries. Here is an example.
If you have a question about how to conduct sales training that can be evaluated in a genuinely meaningful way, click on “Ask The eCoach“.
We are committed to your professional success.
Author of Action Selling
SALES TRAINING DELIVERS WINS FOR PROFESSIONAL SERVICES
Can you prove that a sales training program actually delivers on its promise of improvements in skills and knowledge?
As I have explained in previous editions of eCoach, my company, The Sales Board, has been using a validated instrument to reliably measure factors pertaining to Action Selling training since 1995. 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—has always been the missing link in proving a direct connection between sales training and a subsequent increase in sales revenue.
Today, 21 years later, we have compiled 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. We have so much “big data” on the impact of sales training that we can report results not only for the whole “universe” of salespeople, but for salespeople within particular industries.
Let’s look at the professional-services industry, for instance. “Professional services” includes fields such as architecture, accounting, engineering, medicine, law, IT services, management consulting, and others. How do salespeople in the professional services industry compare to the broader universe in terms of the tangible benefits they gain from sales training?
HOW DO SALESPEOPLE IN PROFESSIONAL SERVICES COMPARE TO THOSE IN OTHER INDUSTRIES?
For the most part, professional services tracks the universe pretty closely. A significant difference appears, however, in the degree to which professional-services salespeople improve their ability to apply skills after training. Looking at post-training application scores for all five of the critical sales skills combined, the universe shows an 86 percent gain; professional services shows an 89% gain.
The difference is most pronounced when we isolate Critical Sales Skill #3, Questioning/Listening. The best salespeople don’t just ask questions; they ask the best questions. These are the questions that allow them to develop a better understanding of the client’s situation and demonstrate their sincere interest in the client. Salespeople who do this best succeed most often at “selling themselves”—which is one reason why questioning is such a critical skill.
Here is training data for salespeople in professional services, vs. the universe in general, when we isolate the skill of Questioning/Listening.
IMPROVEMENT IN CRITICAL SALES SKILL #3: QUESTIONING/LISTENING
- In Questioning/Listening, professional services exceeded the universe to a meaningful degree in Knowledge gain (50% vs 46%) and by a huge margin in Application gain (58% vs 45%).
- This suggests that salespeople in the professional services industry are significantly better than average at putting knowledge to work in the form of real-world performance improvement. They are especially good at turning knowledge about questioning skills into actual great questions when talking to clients.
- By boosting this skill alone to such a degree, the training program more than justifies its cost. And remember that the overall application gain for all five critical skills combined was a whopping 89 percent.
If you’re looking for sales training, New Big Data reveals the right approach to designing sales training that produces maximum business results. Are you asking any of these Big Questions?