Sales Training Effectiveness

(This sales training article was written by GrowthX Corporate Partner, Steve Crepeau)

How do we measure sales training effectiveness? There are a plethora of different metrics that you can track to measure sales training success from a “before” and “after” perspective such as:

  1. Average deal size,
  2. Average sales cycle length,
  3. Average win rate,
  4. Conversion rate at each stage in your sales funnel,
  5. How long to on-ramp a new sales rep, and
  6. Average sales rep quota attainment.

In my experience, people often try and “boil the ocean” by measuring far too many before and after sales training metrics. What I’ve found works best is to identify the single most important sales metric that will move your sales performance needle materially to the right.

I know a lot of people (myself included initially) are uncomfortable with a single metric because we want to measure everything and are analytical geeks. But I learned working with a really smart customer that this is hands down the best approach. I’ll share this real world example with you.

I was working with a rapidly growing B2B SaaS company (who was later acquired for over $400MM). Their primary challenge as a rapidly growing B2B SaaS company was they were hiring a ton of new sales reps and it was taking way too long to ramp them up and get them fully productive (9-10 months+).

We were kicking off a sales enablement engagement and the conversation came around to how do we measure the success of this engagement. We bandied about a ridiculous amount of metrics that we could measure from a before and after sales training perspective.

The SVP of Field Ops chimed in and shared that in his experience companies often make the mistake of over measuring and losing sight of the real problem they were trying to solve. He brought us back to focus on what was the fundamental problem that we were trying to solve with the sales playbook and sales training.

It was the on boarding and ramp up of new sales reps’ problem. He then asked the group to brainstorm on the singular metric that would be the best leading indicator if the sales training was successful or not in fixing that problem. The group epiphany was that the company had never really defined what a “fully ramped” new sales rep meant.

They had discussed “fully ramped” in terms of the most common metric: time to close their first deal. This common metric can be misleading.

There is often a ton of hand holding and help from experienced sales reps and sales leadership to get the first deal closed for a new rep. Often times new sales reps inherit “in flight” deals that had already advanced deeper into their sales cycle.

So, the new sales rep had not really demonstrated that they were fully capable of driving a deal by themselves from start to finish. There would be much joy and rejoicing when a new sales rep closed their first deal. High fives and “rock star” accolades would be liberally dispensed around the new sales rep. And then…the new sales rep would struggle and take forever to close their 2nd deal.

It was a classic case of premature sales celebration!

With that insight, a single metric to measure the before-and-after perspective was agreed: time to close a second deal. That became the new definition for what a fully ramped new sales rep meant. When we looked at the historical data it was painfully obvious that this was the real problem we had to solve through better and more effective sales training.

It turns out that we were able to cut their time to second deal in half which allowed them to grow much faster than they were already growing. Their exec leadership team would tell you today that the seminal moment in their sales success was cracking the proverbial code in their sales enablement and sales training efforts around time to close their second deal for a new sales rep.

Now, it always helps to work with really smart customers because you can learn a lot from them:-) I now incorporate this amazing lesson learned and insight into every sales enablement engagement we work on.

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