How do you know that the sales skills your reps are learning in the sales training programs they attend will serve them any better than whatever they’re doing now? Where is the evidence that any particular sales training course you deliver to them—and any sales coaching support that goes with it—will pay off in the form of tangible business results?

If you ask most sales training suppliers for objective evidence to back up their claims about a program’s virtues or its impact on business results, they will answer evasively and then change the subject.

Personally, I love it when I’m asked to support my contention that salespeople who certify in Action Selling will make more money for themselves and their companies. Why? Because I can.

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 speeded up.

To say these gains were dramatic is putting it mildly. For instance, companies trained in Action Selling saw their salespeople’s average deal size go up from the previous year 79% more often than companies that did not use Action Selling. And more than twice as many Action Selling companies saw customer-retention rates rise.

Sales skills must be learned, not just taught

That is solid evidence that Action Selling teaches key sales skills that genuinely make a difference. But for real-world results like these to follow from a training program, the sales 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 sales 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. It found a 44 percent improvement in knowledge and application of the Five Critical Sales Skills taught in the program.

Using validated testing instruments that measure both knowledge and the ability to apply sales 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 Sales Skills rose as follows:

  1. Managing the buyer-seller relationship – from 55 percent to 82 percent.
  2. Sales Call Planning – from 57 percent to 81 percent.
  3. Questioning Skills – from 60 percent to 85 percent.
  4. Sales Presentation Skills – from 58 percent to 79 percent.
  5. Gaining Commitment – from 50 percent to 81 percent.

What do these numbers mean? They mean that Action Selling’s sales training courses are designed in such a way that salespeople are highly likely to master the knowledge and skills that the courses teach. And they mean that these sales skills really do produce dramatic results when applied in real sales situations.

Need help choosing a sales training program that will produce tangible business results?

For information about how to improve sales skills and make sales training pay huge dividends, contact Action Selling at (800) 232-3485.

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).