In the United States alone, companies spend $15 billion each year training sales employees, according to LinkedIn’s State of Sales report. In spite of these investments, and billions more in sales enablement technology, CSO Insights reports that sales quota attainment rates have declined annually for five years.
Sales quota attainment rates have declined each year for five years
And yet, there are many examples of individual companies who benefited greatly from sales training and enablement technology investments. A few examples, verified by Aberdeen Group research and SPI client surveys, include companies that experienced:
- A 20% improvement in sales quota attainment rates
- A 73% increase in average opportunity size
- A 53% improvement in new salesperson ramp-up time to productivity
- A 24% uplift in customer renewal rate
- A 14% increase in sales growth rate, leading to 35% better earnings
- Over €1 billion in incremental sales revenue
- A 44% improvement in customer satisfaction
- A 33% percent uplift in sales opportunity win rates
Clearly, many companies realize significant business results from investments in modern sales training and supporting technologies. How do these companies differ in their approach, and thereby buck the generally negative trend?
Sales Training and Enablement Technology – a Holistic Approach
Winning companies spend wisely for sales training and enablement technology by first realizing that these investments do not operate in a vacuum. Success depends on how learning and development is supported and reinforced with aligned messaging, tools, technology, management cadence, and other factors. Sales training alone, without supporting infrastructure and operational processes, typically does not sustain behavior change – and therefore results – over time. The success of sales performance improvement initiatives depends on how well different components – training, technology, and operational management standards – work together as an integrated system defined by individual organizations’ growth goals and objectives.
The prevailing norm, unfortunately, is that too many companies spend reactively to symptoms of sales performance gaps in an independent and uncoordinated fashion, without fully considering how those investments should be supported holistically within the organization. A skill training program may educate and uplift a sales team’s ability to execute a critical competency, but if that improved ability is not reinforced, coached and enabled with technology and a management inspection and review cadence, then backsliding towards old, ineffective habits is not just possible, but likely.
Defining and upgrading the key skills which have the most impact on revenues
To that end, SPI developed enablement technologies that encourage and support alignment among the various components needed to fully realize the benefits of sales performance improvement initiatives. The SPI-1 platform, for example, identifies and prioritizes the highest impact sales competencies for development, depending on the type of sales growth strategy and goals, so that training is focused on the most relevant skills and methods needed to achieve those specific objectives and results.
Growth strategy and goals should determine ideal sales team competencies for development
Implementing, supporting, and tracking new selling behaviors
Enablement technology provides company leadership with accurate information and insights about how well their sales teams are adopting improved selling behaviors provided in learning and development initiatives. If sales leadership identifies the highest impact competencies needed to deliver desired results, and provides sellers with enablement tools that support the execution of those skills and methods, then inspection of the use of those tools will give leadership an accurate feedback loop on adoption and mastery of improved selling behaviors – and ultimately, how they enhance results.
With this model in mind, SPI provides a battery of sales enablement tools that support key selling behaviors and competencies. Typically embedded in CRM, these tools make it easier for sales professionals to execute best practices described in training. Further, they also provide first-line sales managers with points of inspection, to determine how well individual sellers are performing desired selling behaviors. These tools also give managers a means for supporting coaching and mastery development.
Sales enablement tools allow sellers and managers to execute improved selling behaviors consistently
Executive leadership can track the use of selling tools through their CRM application, and correlate their use with high priority growth goals. They can identify where remediation and reinforcement are necessary, in real time. Most importantly, analysis of sales tool usage and how they enable ideal buyer-aligned selling processes gives leadership with the means for fine-tuning those processes over time. In other words, enablement technology enables sales leaders to adapt and deliver a differentiated and high-quality customer experience consistently.
Spending on training or technology reactively, in a piecemeal and isolated fashion, often produces less than optimal results. The key to sustainable improvements in sales results is to invest in learning, enablement technologies and management processes as an integrated system, defined by sales growth strategy and goals. In so doing, many companies realize significant double-digit increases in a wide variety of sales productivity metrics.