Firms Capable of Diagnosing Salesperson Skills Gaps Outperform Other Firms by Eleven Percent in Meeting Sales Objectives


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New research from the SMA and Qstream identifies five sales learning and development trends that are needed to train and retool sales teams to meet sales performance goals

Burlington, MA, August 13, 2019Qstream, makers of enterprise-grade mobile microlearning software that reinforces training content and drives behavior change, today announced results of a new research report from the Sales Management Association (SMA) on emerging practices in sales training and development. 

Six in 10 organizations surveyed report plans to significantly increase L&D spending over the course of the next three years, with the main focus being a broader expansion of L&D modalities that layer new approaches over traditional formats. Yet, only 23% of firms consider their current sales training programs to be effective. 

“It seems like a paradox that the majority of organizations surveyed are increasing their investment in L&D, yet are largely disappointed by the effectiveness of their sales training programs,” says Qstream Vice President of Global Sales, Gary Greenberger. “This research highlights that sales management, training and enablement leaders need to adapt sales L&D initiatives and technology quickly so that it is collaborative, continuous and customized. This is a critical business imperative since the SMA’s data showed organizations with effective sales training initiatives reap a 32% sales performance advantage vs. organizations with less effective programs.”

“Our research shows that sales organizations are remaking themselves – in the next three years, 92% expect changes in strategy, structure and, more fundamentally, the ways their salespeople create value,” says Bob Kelly, Chairman of the Sales Management Association. “This is an existential crisis for many sales forces, and it helps explain why so many are ramping up L&D investments. At the same time, new technology is reimagining learning content delivery, and offering significant value in training costs, speed, and quality as a result. In fact, these shifts in sales L&D are arriving at the sales organization’s greatest hour of need to learn and develop.”

Key Research Findings:

The SMA research identifies five specific areas of focus correlated with high levels of improved training effectiveness and higher sales performance. These include: 

  • Customized training – Firms that emphasize customized training vs. one-size-fits-all approaches have overall sales training effectiveness ratings 40% higher than their peers’ and 32% higher firm sales objective achievement. 
  • Continuous delivery of L&D content – Nearly half of respondents (48%) combine continuous and episodic training in roughly equal proportions. However, data shows those firms that emphasize continuous delivery of training and development content vs. one-off trainings outperform other firms, with 21% greater sales objective achievement, and 35% more effective sales training overall.
  • Collaboratively defined learning objectives – Firms that develop training objectives through manager and salesperson collaboration outperform other firms. These firms’ overall sales training effectiveness is 9% higher than their peers and their sales objective achievement is 16% higher.
  • Managers capable of skill gap diagnosis – The 25% of all firms with managers capable of diagnosing salesperson skill gaps outperform other firms by 11% in annual sales objective achievement.
  • Training outcomes focused on sales force adaptability – Sales forces capable of adapting to new ways of delivering customer value outperform other firms by 32%. Those with salespeople capable of quickly changing roles enjoy a 30% sales performance advantage; those able to implement new sales messaging quickly enjoy a 25% advantage; and those with sales training agile enough to accommodate changing conditions enjoy an advantage of 16% in sales objective achievement over other firms.

“Qstream is already working with forward thinking sales organizations who are leading the way in rationalizing their sales L&D tech stack to incorporate proven sales training reinforcement software that identifies knowledge gaps. Qstream’s best practice knowledge reinforcement solution delivers custom, continuous learning to sales teams at scale in the daily flow of work to readies sales teams to meet ever-increasing sales goals,” added Greenberger. 

For additional information, the full SMA and Qstream “Emerging Trends in Sales Force Learning and Development” report can be viewed HERE.

Research Methodology: This research represents summarized data from 92 participating firms, directly employing more than 44,000 sales professionals. Data was collected from an internet-based survey developed and published by the Sales Management Association. Responses were collected between January and May 2019. The analysis represents all accepted responses, after edits and exclusions.

About Qstream

Developed at Harvard Medical School, Qstream’s mobile microlearning enterprise-grade application makes it easy for businesses to deliver, reinforce, track and analyse sales knowledge, proficiency and engagement. Grounded in science and proven in the field, Qstream effectively develops long-term knowledge retention, skills and behaviors in minutes-a-day with measurable impact on performance. By surfacing valuable insights on knowledge and skills gaps, sales managers and enablement leaders know exactly who, what and when to coach to improve individual and team results. With hundreds of enterprise customers globally, including Mastercard, Pfizer, and Autodesk, Qstream is trusted by learning and business leaders in knowledge-intensive and regulated industries to build teams that excel. To learn more, visit, and connect with us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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