How can you know if a sales training program actually delivers on its promise of improvements in skills and knowledge? And how can you know that trained salespeople are actually using their new skills to generate new revenue and other measurable evidence of better performance?

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.

Over the course of two decades and counting, 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.

We also can look at companies in different size categories, regardless of their industries. When we isolate our findings about salespeople in Fortune 500 companies and compare them with the “universe” at large, some curious findings jump out.