Is it really worth investing in sales assessment tools and sales training? A leading national research firm conducted a study of more than 800 end-user companies about their activities and investments in sales assessments and sales training.
In their study they compared actual sales results in relation to the companies’ investments in a variety of sales related activities. This article is a synopsis of the results of this research study.
Assessments of sales personnel
In relation to the impact of doing pre-employment and incumbent selling skills assessments, the study evaluated four dimensions; 1) attainment of the sales team quota, 2) customer retention, 3) individual sales rep quota attainment and 4) quota attainment of new sales reps.
Companies that invested in sales assessments saw their overall quota attainment and customer retention levels perform about 10% better than those firms that did not use assessments tools. Also, in relation to individual performance and performance of new reps, firms investing in sales assessments were 30-40% more successful.
Methods used to train sales personnel
What is the most effective way to train sales personnel – classroom, OJT, mentoring, etc.? The study evaluated the sales performance of companies comparing their approach to sales training against their sales performance.
Instructor-led sales training is by far the most popular and effective approach. 83% of the top performing companies and 75% of all companies in the study reported using this method of training – more than twice the frequency of any other approach.
Post instructor led training & coaching
Anyone with good experience in the training and development business understands that behavior does not change much unless there’s an ongoing investment in practice, coaching, behavior reinforcement and evaluation. We often call it the “feel good syndrome”. You participate in class-room training and when it’s done you feel like you can conquer the world. Then you get back to work and “reality” sets in, and if you are not organized and committed to implement at least some of the behaviors and learnings from the training class, no real behavior change occurs.
The study charted sales performance against post-training activities and found a meaningful difference in those companies who invested in post-training activities compared to those who did not.
Interestingly, post training reinforcement had the biggest impact on overall team performance and speed with which newer people achieved high productivity levels. This implies that post-training reinforcement impacts teamwork among a sales team.
The study leaves little mystery about the impact of sales assessments. I wrote a blog post in May about the CPQ sales assessments tool and how it is used to identify people who have a natural compatibility toward sales. Furthermore, the study reinforces the popularity and impact of instructor-led sales training and post-training reinforcement activities.
In summary, if you want to increase revenue through a highly effective sales force, invest in pre-employment sales assessments, use sales assessments tools to identify strengths and areas of development among your current sales personnel, and invest in instructor-led sales training and post-training reinforcement.