What keeps Sales Leaders awake at night? Part 2

In this second of a 3-part blog series, Dr John Heaford, Head of Sales Methodologies, at SalesMethods, (salesmethods.com) continues his thinking around what keeps Sales Leaders across large businesses awake at night, and how to effectively address the challenge.

My first blog post outlined the frustration for sales leaders of sales forecasting accuracy, along with the impact of ineffective engagement with the chosen sales methodology, as well as poor evaluation of sales training and the associated CRM tools.

Once the organisation has re-focused it efforts and acknowledged that positively impacting business results is key, determining the effectiveness of the programme is the next step.

Determining Effectiveness

The budget is allocated, the software tools are implemented and your salespeople have participated in an advanced sales training programme.
Now the key questions are:

  • Are the salespeople using the new techniques and processes back in the field?
  • What impact did the training have on your organisation?
  • Did you realise a return on your investment in terms of measurable impact like forecasting accuracy, average order value, shorter sales cycles etc.

Why not look for answers to these questions by examining the rigorous approaches demonstrated by the best-in-class organisations in the 2013 research? The formula which appears to produce the highest level of positive impact on the business, as a return on the investment in software tools, formal disciplines and their associated training programmes, appears to follow a consecutive path like this:


Reaction is a measure of the learners’ satisfaction with the new tools and the associated training programme. It addresses the question: Did the participants like the training?

Participants complete survey forms offering their reactions to programme content, how well they liked the instructor’s presentation techniques, how completely the topics were covered, how valuable they perceived each module of the programme or the relevance of the programme content to their specific job. They might also be asked how they planned to use the new concepts or skills that they just acquired.

Such first level evaluation can also identify areas within the training programme, and the link to the CRM based tools, that need to be enhanced or changed. Participants are keenly aware of the problems they encounter during a sales campaign and expect the training programme to provide solutions to those problems. If the programme misses the mark, a concerted effort should be made as to whether it’s the fault of the programme design, delivery or a combination of both. As reaction information doesn’t measure what participants have learned or whether what they have learned will transfer to their jobs, it isn’t indicative of return on investment. However, the interest, attention and motivation of the participants are critical to the success of any training programme. Employees learn better when they accept training willingly and react positively to the style, delivery and content.

Learning & Practice

Learning measures whether the training programme changed the attitudes, increased the knowledge or improved the skills of the participant. It addresses the question – did the participants learn anything?

Measuring the learning that takes place in a training programme is vital because no change in behavior can be expected unless the learning objectives of the programme are accomplished. Evaluating the learning that has taken place is typically focused on determining the following:

  • What knowledge was acquired?
  • What skills were developed or enhanced?
  • What attitudes were changed?

These measurements can be implemented during the training programme, using a variety of evaluation techniques. Measurements at this level might indicate that instructional methods are effective or that learning did take place, but does not show whether—or how—the new learning will be applied in the field.

Key Performance Indicators

What gets measured gets done and a key part of the success of any change programme is the implementation and review of the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that are indicative of the objectives that you are pursuing.

This is where CRM applications such as SalesMethods’ account development and opportunity management have a huge part to play. Integrated in a host CRM system and capturing for the first time qualitative data such as customer relationship strengths and value proposition competitiveness, it is now possible to get a quick insight in to the how effective the overall programme has been.

Activity based information such as the setting of account objectives, or qualitative data such as the power and influence of customer contacts both give an immediate indication of the result of your initiative while introducing metrics that are far more relevant to your main objectives than you have with standard CRM reports.

The third and final post in this 3-part blog series, Dr Heaford will look at ‘Behavior in the Field’ and ‘Business Results’.

Read part 3

John Heaford

John Heaford

John is a sales skills training consultant, company director, conference speaker and training systems designer. His ultimate goal is to build world class training support tools, for distribution over the mobile internet to hand-held personal devices, to field sales professionals and business executives. He is Head of Methodologies at SalesMethods.