MEASURING THE IMPACT OF TRAINING: A FOCUS

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1 MEASURING THE IMPACT OF TRAINING: A FOCUS ON SALES READINESS THOUGHT LEADERSHIP SURVEY RESULTS

2 TABLE OF CONTENTS STUDY OVERVIEW 2 KEY FINDINGS 2 ANALYSIS: MEASURING SALES READINESS 3 ANALYSIS: MEASURING THE IMPACT 11 ABOUT THE STUDY 15 ABOUT THE RESEARCH PARTNERS 18 ABOUT THE RESEARCH 18 1

3 STUDY OVERVIEW Being able to measure the impact of training is the Holy Grail for learning organizations. Since sales outcomes are easier to measure than other learning outcomes, this study focused on the measurement practices, tools and confidence of those involved in determining the impact of sales readiness initiatives. It revealed that many respondents lack confidence in their ability to attribute sales outcomes to specific initiatives. From this study, those who want to improve their ability to measure impact can learn: 1) which measurement techniques and information tools are used by more of those who are confident in determining impact; 2) which tools are considered most useful in determining impact; and 3) which sales readiness initiatives are expected to have the greatest impact on sales and which are measured best. KEY FINDINGS Respondents rarely have a firm grasp on how much sales readiness initiatives impact their company s sales. Only 22% were strongly confident that they had enough information to know if their initiatives had the desired impact. 31% had little to no confidence, and 46% had some confidence. Two of the sales readiness initiatives perceived to have a strong impact on sales communicating with executives and assessing customer needs are done least often. By contrast, two other areas expected to have an even higher impact on sales product/service information and value propositions are frequently used. Few rely primarily on sales metrics to understand if a salesperson is ready to sell. Only 17% of all comments related to sales process or outcome metrics. Tests and observations come to mind first for the vast majority of respondents, including those in sales management roles. When respondents do use sales metrics to understand sales force readiness, total sales is used far more often than any other metric. 72% use total sales compared with only 53% who use the next most frequent sales metrics sales performance vs. quota and deals closed. Activity metrics like lead quality and cycle time and longer term metrics like customer loyalty and salesperson retention are used least often. More advanced measurement techniques are rarely used. Less than half the respondents use any of the measurement techniques listed. Less than one in five uses the most advanced technique, using statistical models to isolate the impact or sales outcome benefits of initiatives. Sales performance and simple ROI calculators are among the tools viewed as most useful in determining initiatives impact, but they are the least often used. Both tools use sales outcomes data. Likewise, CRM s with sales outcome data are considered the most useful tool; they are most often used. Those who are confident in determining impact have much higher adoption rates of both measurement techniques and information technology tools. More respondents who are confident that they have enough information to determine the impact of particular initiatives use every listed measurement technique and information technology tool, particularly sales and human resources performance systems. 2

4 ANALYSIS: MEASURING SALES READINESS To understand what companies do in regards to preparing a sales force to sell, or sales readiness, respondents were asked several questions related to 14 sales readiness initiatives, as listed below. Product/service information Value propositions Competitive positioning Sales/marketing collateral Customer profiles Customer testimonials/success stories Pricing schedules and options Sales scripts Sales methodology Financial principles Customer needs assessment methods Overcoming common sales objections How to communicate with executives How to use company software/tools These questions included: which groups lead various sales readiness initiatives, whether or not the initiatives are used, and how they are valued and measured. Which group/department has overall responsibility for sales readiness? The Sales group has the greatest overall responsibility for coordinating sales readiness activities (46%), with some support from both Sales Training (17%) and Corporate Training (16%). The other groups listed included Marketing, Product, and Sales Readiness. Which group/department has the main responsibility for each initiative? Sales and Marketing have the most initiatives in which the highest percentage of respondents selected those groups as having primary responsibility, as shown in Figure 1 below. Marketing is in charge of knowledge based material including collateral, customer testimonials, competitive positioning, customer profiles, and value propositions. By contrast, Sales leads initiatives focused on sales process skills such as applying sales methodologies and financial principles, assessing customer needs and using sales scripts. 3

5 Figure 1 Groups Most Often Responsible for Each Initiative Sales/marketing collateral Customer testimonials/success stories Competitive positioning Sales methodology Product/service information Customer profiles Financial principles Overcoming common sales objections Customer needs assessment methods How to communicate with executives Value propositions How to use company tools Pricing schedules and options Sales scripts 59% 52% 52% 50% 46% 43% 41% 36% 34% 34% 32% 32% 30% 78% Marketing Sales Other N =69 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% Percent of Respondents Those initiatives designated as Other were either dominated by the Product Group (for product and service information) or had shared responsibility between two or more groups. Pricing schedules and options: 32% Sales, 29% Marketing, 29% Product How to communicate with executives: 34% Sales Training, 32% Corporate Training How to use company tools: 32% Sales Training, 29% Corporate Training Are there any other ways your company improves sales effectiveness? Other areas under the leadership of Sales (and Sales Training) include: Ongoing sales coaching, mentoring and feedback Regular forums to share best practices and success stories Customer relationship skills Key account and territory management 4

6 Other areas for which Corporate Training is responsible include: On boarding or orientations for new hires Management development Accreditation and certification programs Which sales readiness initiatives does your organization use to support sales? The vast majority of all survey respondents companies (over 80%) engage in all of the listed sales readiness initiatives. Basic product collateral and sales and marketing based information are among the most commonly used sales readiness initiatives. All initiatives are listed in Figure 2 below, in order of the most frequently used to least frequently used. Figure 2 Most Frequent Sales Readiness Initiatives Sales/marketing collateral Overcoming common sales objections Product/service information Customer profiles Value propositions Competitive positioning Pricing schedules and options Sales methodology How to use company software/tools Customer testimonials/success stories Sales scripts Customer needs assessment methods How to communicate with executives Financial principles 84% 83% 83% 96% 94% 94% 93% 93% 93% 91% 90% 90% 90% 88% 76% 78% 80% 82% 84% 86% 88% 90% 92% 94% 96% 98% N = 61 Percent of Respondents The three least frequently used activities are arguably higher level, strategic methodologies and soft skills like assessing customer needs, communicating with executives and applying financial principles in the sales process. 5

7 How much of an impact does each of the following sales readiness initiatives have on key sales performance indicators? Respondents believe that being able to communicate the value of specific products or services using value propositions, speaking with executives, and properly assessing customer needs are critical to increasing sales. However, communicating with executives and assessing customer needs are among the least commonly used initiatives. Figure 3 Perceptions of High Impact of Initiatives on Key Sales Performance Indicators Value propositions Product/service information How to communicate with executives Customer needs assessment methods Overcoming common sales objections Sales methodology Competitive positioning Customer profiles (e.g., who is likely to buy) How to use company software/tools Financial principles Customer testimonials or success stories Sales/marketing materials and collateral Pricing schedules and options Sales scripts (e.g., for or phone) 18% 39% 37% 35% 33% 48% 46% 46% 46% 42% 55% 55% 52% 63% Biggest Differences between Perception of High Impact and Use 0% 20% 40% 60% N = 61 Percent of Respondents Participants indicated that the way they knew how much an impact an initiative had was through testing, observations, tracking top performers, customer feedback and analytics. 6

8 COMPARING USE WITH MEASUREMENT AND TYPES OF MEASUREMENT Figure 4 provides a comparison between the percent of respondents who use and measure each sales readiness initiative. The greatest differences between the use and measurement of initiatives are in competitive positioning and customer testimonials. These are also the least measured areas. Only 79% and 73% of respondents, respectively, measure these areas. They may be among the least measured areas because of the difficulty in observing their application on the job with prospective customers. Contrast this to the relative ease in which knowledge transfers like product and service information can be measured through testing. Figure 4 is sorted in order of the percent of participants who use each initiative. Note that the three least frequently measured and used areas are assessing customer needs, communicating with executives and applying financial principles. Figure 4 Comparison of Use and Measurement of Sales Readiness Initiatives Overcoming common sales objections Product/service information Customer profiles Value propositions Competitive positioning Pricing schedules and options Sales methodology How to use company software/tools Customer testimonials/success stories Sales scripts Customer needs assessment methods How to communicate with executives N = 68, 59 Sales/marketing collateral Financial principles 96% 85% 94% 87% 94% 85% 93% 83% 93% 81% 93% 79% 91% 86% 90% 90% 90% 91% 90% 73% 88% 84% 84% 83% 83% 78% 83% 80% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Percent of Respondents % Who Use % Who Measure It Biggest Differences between Use and Measurement 7

9 Which sales readiness initiatives do you measure through observation and testing? All but one initiative gets measured more often by observation than testing. The only area where testing is used more frequently is in the transfer of product and service information. The two areas where the use of observation and testing differed the most are in customer needs assessments and how to communicate with executives. These are also among the least commonly used sales readiness initiatives. The initiatives most frequently measured using observation are all sales process areas led by Sales or Sales Training: overcoming sales objections, communicating with executives and sales methodologies. Figure 5 is sorted by the most to least measured areas. Sales and training based activities such as how to use company software and tools, sales methodology and overcoming sales objections are measured most. Figure 5 Comparison of Measurement by Observation vs. Testing How to use company software/tools Sales methodology Overcoming common sales objections Pricing schedules and options Product/service information Sales/marketing collateral Sales scripts Customer needs assessment methods Customer profiles Value propositions Financial principles Competitive positioning How to communicate with executives Customer testimonials/success stories 8% 38% 36% 53% 57% 36% 61% 16% 40% 38% 52% 20% 42% 37% 48% 25% 56% 21% 33% 44% 43% 28% 41% 29% 40% 24% 53% 28% Observe Use Test Knowledge Only Area Where Testing is More Common Biggest Differences between Use of Observation and Testing 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% N = 59 Percent of Respondents 8

10 Which readiness initiatives do you measure best and how do you measure it? In an open ended question, respondents said they measured product/service information and value propositions best. They described using testing, observations and role plays to measure these areas. These are two areas most often measured using testing, as Figure 5 indicates above. This suggests that respondents are most confident in their ability to measure through testing rather than through observation. Which types of metrics does your organization use to understand whether or not a salesperson is ready to sell a given product or service? When asked to come up with which types of metrics are top of mind in understanding readiness on their own, the vast majority of respondents even those in sales management roles indicated that they rely on tests and demonstrations or observations and manager assessments to understand whether or not a salesperson is ready to sell. Only 17% of all comments related to specific sales metrics focused on sales process metrics (e.g., pipeline reports, forecasts, reviews of sales plans and customer feedback) and ultimate changes in sales outcomes (e.g., profit growth, sales margins and overall sales). Figure 6 shows the percentage of total responses summarized into five major categories. Figure 6 Ways to Assess Sales Readiness Completions 8% 8% 5% Tests, Demos and Certifications 33% 45% Observations/Manager Assessments Sales Process Metrics N= 73 Sales Outcome Metrics 9

11 Which metrics do you use to assess the overall readiness of your sales force? When survey participants were given a list of sales metrics, far more respondents indicated that they used these metrics to assess readiness than they did in the open ended question on which types of metrics they use to understand readiness. This may mean that while sales metrics are used, they are not the primary reference points when respondents seek to understand readiness. As Figure 7 shows, increased total sales is considered the ultimate metric of a sales force s readiness to sell. Other top metrics include sales close rate performance as measured by improved sales performance vs. quota, increased deals closed or improved win/loss ratios. Figure 7 Measurements of Sales Readiness Initiatives Increased total sales Improved sales performance vs. quota Increased deals closed (or units sold) Improved win/loss ratios or close rates Increased profit margins Increased number of sales per time period Increased customer satisfaction Improved number of leads in pipeline Increase renewal rates Improved customer loyalty Increased sales per unit sold/contract Improved retention of salespeople Decreased cycle times (from lead to close) Improved lead quality 53% 53% 49% 47% 44% 43% 41% 40% 35% 34% 31% 25% 19% 72% N = 68 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% Interestingly, far more respondents in sales related roles (e.g., Sales, Sales Training or Sales Readiness) typically use sales metrics than those in Corporate Training roles. The biggest difference is in the use of improved number of leads in the pipeline, which was used by 57% of those in the sales group and only 22% of those in the training group. 10

12 ANALYSIS: MEASURING THE IMPACT How confident are you that you have enough information to determine that a particular sales readiness initiative had the desired impact? Only one in five survey participants said that they had a strong level of confidence in being able to attribute a particular sales impact to a specific sales readiness initiative. Figure 8 Percent of Respondents N = 67 Level of Confidence in Determining Initiative's Impact 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Not Confident Group 15% Not confident at all 16% Very little confidence 46% Confident Group 22% Some confidence Strong confidence To understand differences in measurement techniques and information technology tools, we created two groups based on confidence: 1) Confident Group: Those respondents who had some or strong confidence. (N= 46) 2) Not Confident Group: Those who had very little or no confidence. (N= 21) 11

13 Which describes your company s use of measurement/analytics? Less than half of all respondents employed measurement and analytics practices that would allow them to isolate the impact of a particular sales readiness initiative on sales. The confident group uses far more measurement techniques, particularly measuring target sales outcomes before and after initiatives and measuring the direct costs of initiatives, which are both circled in Figure 9. Figure 9 is sorted by the most frequently used measurement practice to the least frequently used. Generally, the more sophisticated the practice, the less often it is done. Figure 9 Comparison of Confidence Groups on Use of Measurement Practices Use the performance of top sales people to set targets for others 43% 38% Confident Group Identify which sales outcomes will be impacted by which readiness initiatives 29% 43% Not Confident Group Measure target sales outcomes before & after readiness initiatives Measure the direct costs of readiness initiatives 14% 19% 48% 43% Biggest Differences between Confidence Groups Compare sales outcomes for those who do/do not participate in initiatives 14% 33% Measure the indirect costs (e.g., time away from selling) of initiatives 10% 22% Use a statistical model to isolate the sales impact of readiness initiatives 5% 17% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% N = 46, 21 Percent of Respondents 12

14 USE OF SALES RELATED INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY TOOLS As Figure 10 demonstrates, more of the confident group uses all information technology tools than the not confident group. In particular, over 45% more of the confident group uses sales performance management tools and HR performance systems. Over 30% more of the confident group uses three other tools: sales compensation systems, sales force automation, and simple ROI calculators. In Figure 10, the tools are sorted by those that are most frequently used by all respondents. Different types of CRM s are most commonplace, followed by compensation systems and SFA tools. Sales performance management tools are used least overall, especially among the not confident group. Figure 10 Greatest Differences Among Groups on Use of Tools CRM with contact and sales data 72% 91% CRM with contact data only 81% 75% Confident Group Sales compensation system 50% 84% Not Confident Group Sales force automation 44% 79% HR performance system Learning Management System Simple ROI calculator 35% 35% 82% 69% 61% 73% Biggest Differences between Confidence Groups Sales performance management tool 18% 64% 0% 50% 100% N = 46, 21 Percent of Respondents 13

15 Which tools are most useful in determining the impact of readiness initiatives on sales performance and why? CRM systems that track both contact and sales data are both the most used and useful of all listed tools. Respondents reported that their CRM systems allowed them to track predictive or leading activity indicators like pipeline growth and customer contact frequency as well as sales outcomes. The biggest difference between the use of tools and perceptions of their usefulness are for ROI calculators and sales performance management tools. Both tools quantify sales outcomes. ROI calculators measure the return on investment (ROI) by comparing the net sales outcomes (benefits minus costs) and the costs of initiatives. Figure 11 is sorted by most to least useful. Figure 11 Comparison between Usefulness Ratings and Use of Tools CRM that tracks contacts & sales data Simple ROI calculator Sales performance management tool Sales force automation Sales compensation system Learning Management System CRM that tracks contacts only N = 64 HR performance system 96% 86% 62% 92% 52% 92% 69% 91% 74% 89% 67% 89% 82% 80% 69% 69% 0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100% Percent of Respondents Biggest Differences between Usefulness Ratings and Use Rated Useful Have Tool 14

16 ABOUT THE STUDY This study was conducted through an online survey of 69 professionals who are involved with sales readiness activities or provide information to sales people to improve their selling performance. In which functional group do you work? About half of the respondents were from the corporate training or L&D function. Nearly one in five is in Sales Training and another one in five is in Sales. Relatively few are in the other groups. Figure 12 Respondents' Functional Groups 1% Product Group 19% 6% 4% 17% Sales Readiness/Enablement Sales Training 6% Corporate Training (L&D) N = 68 46% Marketing Sales To what role or position does your group report? Figure 13 Group Role or Position to Which Group Most Often Reports Corporate Training Human Resources, Operations, Sales/Services Groups, C Suite/ Presidents, and Change or Talent Management Groups Sales Training Sales/Services Groups, Human Resources and Marketing Sales Sales Operations/VP of Sales and C Suite/Presidents 15

17 How many sales people does your group support? Respondents represented companies with a broad spectrum of both sales force and total company sizes, as figures 14 and 15 illustrate. Figure 14 Salespeople Supported by Respondents' Groups 19% 9% 5,001 and above 1,001 5,000 13% 201 to 1, to % 10% 51 to to 50 N = 67 9% 9% 15% 6 to 25 5 and below Please indicate your company s size. Figure 15 Company Size by Number of Employees 9% 12% 13% 7% 1 to to to 499 7% 15% 500 to 999 1,000 to ,000 to 9999 N = 67 25% 10% 10,000 to 19,999 20,000 and above 16

18 Please indicate your company s industry. At most, only one in six respondents came from any one industry. Other respondents were spread across over 15 other industries. Figure 16 Industries of Respondents' Companies Technology (Computers, Software, ISP, etc.) Training and Development Manufacturing Durable Manufacturing Telecommunications Business Services / Consulting Pharmaceuticals Manufacturing Non Durable Insurance Banking/Finance Transportation Utilities Health care Retail Oil and Gas Legal Education (K graduate) Construction 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 3% 3% 5% 5% 5% 6% 8% 9% 11% 11% 15% N = 66 0% 2% 4% 6% 8% 10% 12% 14% 16% Percent of Respondents 17

19 ABOUT CAPITAL ANALYTICS, INC. AND THE HUMAN CAPITAL LAB Capital Analytics, Inc. and Bellevue University s Human Capital Lab bring together a team of educators, computer scientists, statisticians, business professionals, and psychology specialists to address the challenges of measuring human capital investments. Their partnership combines the latest in application and theory with expertise in qualitative and quantitative assessments of leadership, change management, and employee training initiatives. Individually and jointly, they have participated in projects with academic institutions, non profits, privately held firms, and Fortune 200 companies. Capital Analytics, Inc. is a pioneer in creating innovative methods and robust technologies to measure, improve, and optimize the significant human capital investments that organizations make each year. Since 2001, the company has been developing a next generation analytics tool, HumanCapitalRx, which identifies, isolates, and measures the impact of human capital investments. Bellevue University s Human Capital Lab was created in 2007 to develop new and valuable approaches to unlocking the long term potential of human capital investments. The Lab manages a network of researchers, conducts seminars, publishes results, and consults with organizations on human capital investment issues. The university has been recognized twice as a Corporate University Best in Class institution, the first and only accredited institution to do so. ABOUT TRAINING INDUSTRY, INC. Training Industry, Inc. is an objective and trusted expert on the marketplace for learning. Its mission is to make the marketplace more efficient through the world s largest online community of training communities and through services such as Training Industry Conferences, Training Industry Quarterly Ezine, Training Industry Webinars, and Training Industry Research. Through these channels, Training Industry, Inc. provides news, articles, strategies, practices, and processes. For more information, go to ABOUT THE RESEARCH Copyright 2009 Capital Analytics, Inc., Bellevue University s Human Capital Lab and Training Industry, Inc. All rights reserved. No materials from this study can be duplicated, copied, re published, or re used without written permission from Capital Analytics, Inc., Bellevue University s Human Capital Lab or Training Industry, Inc. The information and insights contained in this report reflect the research and observations of Capital Analytics, Inc., Bellevue University s Human Capital Lab and Training Industry, Inc. analysts. 18

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