When someone says "sales training", many concepts come to mind. It may be a weekend conference where lots of swag can be scored while learning new selling techniques. Perhaps it is the conference room at work where the sales force begrudgingly gather to hear this week's tips and tricks. Maybe as the training manager, it conjures up the amount of work ahead of you to successfully pull off the next sales training.

Regardless of the connotations, you want your sales training to be a success. Additionally, you want the sales reps to feel the training was pertinent as they apply the principles that were taught.

A career in sales is hard and you are responsible for training the front lines that increase company profit. Unless you conduct training merely to disseminate information, you need to measure the success of your training.

But how do you measure if the sales training is successful?

The Kirkpatrick Model is the industry standard in measurement for L&D departments. With four tiered levels, it gives trainers an outline to measure success, but training departments are responsible for filling in the missing pieces. The four levels are Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results. Let's explore each level as you discover ways to measure the effectiveness of your sales training.

LEVEL 1: REACTION

To what degree participants react favorably to the training.

Measuring success at Level 1 is easily achieved by surveying the learners. This can be done with an online questionnaire or an exit slip that reviews the sessions after the training has finished.

Observing and questioning during training are excellent ways to see if participants are actively engaged and are contributing to the learning experience. As a trainer, be sure to ask relevant questions during and after the training to see if the learners will have the opportunity to apply what was learned to their job.

LEVEL 2: LEARNING

To what degree participants acquire the intended knowledge, skills, attitudes, confidence, and commitment based on their participation in a training event.

A simple pre- and post-test can be used to measure how much information was retained from training. If the testing is done immediately, the results are usually favorable. Testing done a month later may lack the desired results.

Be sure to use spaced learning to maximize learning retention.

When the training is complete, the learners should display the following attributes.

  • Knowledge "I know it"
  • Skill "I can do it right now"
  • Attitude "I believe this will be worthwhile to do on the job"
  • Confidence "I think I can do it on the job"
  • Commitment "I intend to do it on the job"

Simply put, Kirkpatrick's Level 2 motivates sales reps to move to Level 3 where there is a change in behavior.

LEVEL 3: BEHAVIOR

To what degree participants apply what they learned during training when they are back on the job.

Levels 1 and 2 are fairly easy to apply. Many training departments do the first two levels well but never make it to Kirkpatrick's third level. This is where the rubber meets the road and change happens.

In order to know if behaviors have changed, a learning management system (LMS) needs to be in place. The LMS will measure change in behavior by gathering and analyzing data. In many organizations, the data already exists in performance management, marketing, sales, and financial systems. Data can be used to bridge the gap between training and sales performance.

Bridging the gap requires a technical infrastructure and system integration. This technical integration may be a challenge for many corporations.

Sales training is not an isolated department but a member of the larger team. It is an integral part of the corporate system that helps make the company profitable. Profit can be seen in the effectiveness (increased sales) and efficiency (lowered expenditures) of sales training.

LEVEL 4: RESULTS

To what degree targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training event and subsequent reinforcement.

Are you seeing the desired results from sales training?

If you are not, perhaps it is due to a lack of goals.

Determine what your highest priorities are in sales training and make them your highest goals. With clear goals in mind, design a training program by working backwards with the end in mind. Critical behaviors should have a positive impact on company goals.

Additionally, training must be aligned with performance objectives. These objectives are not confined to the sales force alone. Remember, the learning department and sales reps are part of a larger team and need to work together to achieve the desired goals. Strategic planning and performance reviews are additional ways to help improve sales.

THE NEXT LEVEL

Using the Kirkpatrick Model is a great starting point to measure the effectiveness of sales training. Keep in mind that training and goals should be fluid activities that change as needs and markets change. What worked last year in training may not be the way training should be conducted next year. Sales is a dynamic career that requires dynamic sales training. Take your sales training to the next level.

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