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ATD Blog

Sales Evaluation


Fri Nov 30 2012


I’m often on the phone with sales enablement professionals discussing options and solutions to their organizations sales woes. Typically the conversation goes something like this:

Sales Trainer: Our sales team is struggling to close deals.  Our pipeline looks great, but when it comes down to it, most of the team is below quota.  I’d like to see if you could recommend some negotiation and closing skills training.


Me: How did you determine those were the primary issues the sales team is facing?

Sales Trainer: The head of sales sent me an email requesting training on those two skills.

Me: \[Sigh\]. Before we blindly offer training, let’s discuss some ways to ensure that offering training on those two skills will solve the sales team’s problem

While cliché, this is akin to me going to the doctor feeling crummy, telling him to give me a prescription to take care of a sinus infection, and the doctor actually writing the prescription without checking out my symptoms. In other words, this is a prescription before diagnosis. Not only am I not a doctor, but the doctor is not doing his job.

While there are many options to assess sales team issues and provide appropriate training, I’d like to offer you a few steps to help get you going in the right direction.


Step 1 – Identify the KSAs (aka competencies) for the successful sales reps.  You can use questions such as:

  • What do you think are the strengths of the current team?

    • What are the key knowledge and skills successful sales reps at your company demonstrate?

    • What do you see as a candidate profile for a new hire?

Step 2 – Once the profiles are complete, use an assessment tool to gather 180- or 360-degree feedback. Questions to address here include:

  • Where do you think each rep is right now regarding the key knowledge and skills for successful reps?

  • What skill gaps some team members have?

Step 3 – Build a sales training strategy to address those gaps.  This will make it easier to answer the following questions: 

  • Where would sales leadership like the team to be in six months? Addressing the identified gaps (leading indicators) will help to answer this question and drive longer term revenue/quota (lagging output)

  • How will the sales manager drive accountability? Not only will sales leaders and managers help their teams meet revenue, but also grow sales people by coaching on skills.

  • What do sales managers coach people on?  The coaching program can then be tailored in a way that addresses gaps, reinforces training, and becomes more than just a pipeline inspection.

  • How can the sales enablement department support you? How can we help you drive results and accomplish your goals?

By taking this approach, you will be armed with the tools to have a conversation with your sales leadership peers and advise them in a consultative manner. In the long run, you will earn credibility with them as you move to a more strategic partnership.

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