As autumn sets in, a palpable sense of urgency permeates the atmosphere. Sales leaders worldwide are scrutinizing their pipelines, refining forecasts, and crafting strategies to close deals. Simultaneously, discussions about the upcoming sales kick-off event in the new year are gaining momentum. Amidst this whirlwind of activity, it’s easy to become caught up in a web of competing priorities.
However, the fourth quarter offers a unique opportunity to assess the effectiveness of development initiatives launched earlier in the year. This exercise not only guides the sequencing of priorities for the coming year but also equips you with fresh insights to enrich broader discussions about what’s next within the sales organization. While you may already have a review process in place, consider these additional approaches that may unlock new possibilities and provoke aha moments.
Dialogue With Cross-Functional Influencers and StakeholdersIf you’ve introduced significant programs within the last 12–18 months, such as onboarding experiences or enhancements to your company’s selling skills training, seek anecdotal feedback from individuals slightly outside the intended audience. This could be a marketing leader or colleague from sales operations. The objective is to gather their perspectives on behavior change. Pose questions like:
- Are there observable signs that our salespeople better comprehend our value proposition?
- To what extent are people effectively utilizing our processes and systems?
- Are you spending less time addressing these issues?
These departments and colleagues directly experience the benefits or challenges arising from organizational behavioral changes. Their firsthand experiences can serve as compelling indicators of the effectiveness of your development programs.
Challenge Your DataA humorous yet poignant saying goes, “If you torture the data enough, it will confess to anything.” This serves as a stark reminder that learning management systems (LMS), surveys, or other data sources (such as KPI tracking) can only be as insightful as the conclusions we draw from them. While presenting obvious findings to leadership is commendable, the most valuable insights often lie beneath the surface.
Consider convening a diverse group of individuals for an informal brainstorming session. Lay out data from the previous three quarters and encourage participants to share their perspectives and ideas. Initiate discussions with questions like:
- What alternative interpretations can we derive from this data that we may have overlooked?
- Are there additional data sources we could consult to enhance our understanding? (Or what new metrics could we start measuring?)
- Based on our data analysis, where do opportunities for reinforcement appear?
Both of these approaches emphasize the importance of purposefully initiating conversations with colleagues in your organization who possess valuable viewpoints and opinions about your work’s impact. While it may be tempting to stay focused on your tasks, remember the satisfaction that comes from stepping out of your comfort zone and reaping the rewards of enhanced clarity, candid feedback, and invaluable collaboration. This serves as a friendly nudge to make it happen as you approach the year’s end.