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The Dos and Don’ts for Using Assessments in a Sales Training Program

Wednesday, January 13, 2016
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After delivering thousands of sales and sales management training programs, we’ve received feedback that one of the most powerful and lasting components of our programs is the personal assessments we include in each workshop.

Our assessments are an integral part of our training methodology for many reasons, but their popularity among participants can usually be attributed to one of the following reasons: 

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  • Let’s be honest: people love learning about themselves. Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re all egocentric to some degree. We love discovering new information about ourselves—especially when it’s delivered in a format that can help us in some meaningful way.
  • Assessments reveal personal blind spots that people typically can’t (or won’t) see for themselves. Increasing self-awareness encourages people to improve or at least focus attention towards their own challenge areas.
  • Understanding the behaviors and motivators of others is a powerful way to give learners an advantage in their sales and coaching interactions. Frankly, this understanding of others makes their jobs easier and this is something people absolutely want. 

That said, there is a right and a wrong way to incorporate personal assessments into a sales training program. What’s more, including the results can be powerful, so be sure to maximize the impact by sticking to these best practices threading assessments into your sales training programs. 

  • DO give careful thought to how you thread the assessment results into the training. Introduce the results during a module that connects well with the information. If the assessment information doesn’t feel relevant and useful to the topic at hand, you risk losing the power of the assessment’s real-world application.
  • DON’T deliver the assessment results in a way that can feel punitive or too personal. The results from psychometric assessments can be incredibly eye opening, but some things that assessments measure can be personal and should be reserved for 1-to-1 coaching interactions as opposed to group settings. Stick to sharing results that can be used to benefit a team dynamic and that won’t leave any participants feeling uncomfortable.
  • DO make sure the facilitator has a deep understanding of the assessment tool. Powerful information that is placed in untrained hands can often cause more harm than good, and it will certainly damage the credibility of the training. People will almost always have questions during this section, so have a presenter who is knowledgeable enough to provide those answers.
  • DON’T neglect to tie the assessment results back into selling skills improvement. Arbitrary information that can’t be immediately seen as relevant to improving sales effectiveness may be dismissed. While you’ve captured the attendees’ attention with information that is about them and their own life, connect it to the training in a meaningful way. This will result in greater retention of information and application of skills once the program is over.
  • DO give attendees access to an assessment subject matter expert after the training program. Good assessments can be complex and difficult to process in one or two days and as attendees go on with their day-to-day lives they will encounter situations that may trigger questions about the assessment. Being able to consult with an expert will help them make the best use of their reports, and further regard the training as valuable.

Incorporating assessments into a training program can create a powerful—and lasting—experience for the learner. Further, it can help tie everything they learn back into their own day-to-day selling efforts. By incorporating some sort of assessment into your sales training program, you’ll differentiate the experience from all other programs your learners have attended. You’ll also have a genuine impact on the lives and careers of the attendees. 

For more advice, be sure to join the webcast, “What the VP of Sales Needs From the Training Department,” January 20, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. The Brooks Group’s Paul Bilodeau will share deep insight and experience around how L&D and sales can come together to create sales excellence and increased top-line revenue.

About the Author
As chief operating officer of The Brooks Group, Will draws on his leadership, marketing, sales, sales management, and operational experience to help develop and execute the company’s overall growth strategy. Drawing from over 15 years of experience in the training and development industry, Will combines his deep institutional knowledge and client experience to optimize operations at The Brooks Group.  Will has co-authored the book, Playing Bigger than You Are, with his late father Bill Brooks, and has been featured in a number of industry publications. He has received awards for service to the HR profession and also is actively involved with ISA, The Association of Learning Providers.
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