New research from ValueSelling and Training Industry, Inc. has uncovered a glaring gap between the most impactful sales behaviors needed to engage with buyers virtually, and what sales leaders measure today. Surprisingly, winning sales behaviors are rarely measured. Yet without accurate measurement practices in place, companies are not effective in encouraging the right behaviors that lead to increased sales results, which means that money is left on the table.

75% of sales leaders only measure sales outcomes, such as increased revenue and margins, transaction size and the number of deals won.

By contrast, the other 25% measure winning sales behaviors that include sales reps blocking time on their calendars for prospecting, completing more phone calls, and writing more follow-up plan letters.

Measuring both selling outcomes and behaviors is critical for determining and realizing a healthy revenue pipeline.

To investigate the disconnect between the behaviors sellers need to succeed while working remotely and what sales teams actively measure, ValueSelling Associates and Training Industry surveyed 464 sales leaders and sales enablement decision makers to further explore how to be a winner in an increasingly virtual B2B sales model.

Mind the Gap Between Desired Behaviors and Sales Metrics

There is a discrepancy between how sales leaders want salespeople to act and the sales outcomes they are striving to achieve. The only way to know if a sales training initiative is successful is to measure it — by keeping an eye on selling behaviors and sales results. Without both measurements in place, it’s difficult to diagnose what is and isn’t working.

The research reveals that 81% of companies that agree they can connect sales behavior with results also have sales practices that nurture credibility, trust and rapport in buyers, compared to only 44% of companies that could not connect behavior with results.

This demonstrates that focusing on building credibility, trust and rapport is a key ingredient in the recipe for increased sales results. By investing in behavior-based skills, sales teams can build trusted, long-term partnerships with customers.

3 Ways to Improve Sales Measurement Practices

Here are three actionable ways to accurately measure sales behaviors that build credibility, instill trust and develop rapport with buyers.

1.   Build Credibility with Buyers

“Establishing credibility and trustworthiness” is the highest-rated sales behavior for engaging with buyers in virtual selling, according to the research. One way to measure for credibility is through credibility statements. Use a conversational intelligence tool to analyze the first few minutes of initial sales calls. Ensure your sales reps use credibility statements to introduce themselves, your company and your company’s areas of expertise. They should also reference similar companies that you’ve helped and explain why your offering provides a unique advantage.

2. Instill Trust in Buyers

Deals are made when buyers trust sales reps. How can such a squishy word be measured accurately? When combined with metrics that demonstrate business value, a salesperson’s trust factor increases. Sales leaders can measure trust by counting the number of value-based stories their sales reps use in conversations with buyers.

Value-based stories are the best way to connect with prospects and have a meaningful conversation — while building credibility, trust and rapport. The most captivating pieces to develop in a value-based story are measurable outcomes. These are the quantifiable metrics and value produced by your service, product or solution. Examples include a leading hospital that increased patient satisfaction scores by 12% in eight months and a global consumer goods company that reduced capital expenditures by 15% in six months. With these measurable values, your story will grab an executive’s attention.

3. Develop and Maintain Rapport with Buyers

Most sales leaders in our survey identified “developing and maintaining relationships with buyers” as one of the most important sales behaviors for engaging, negotiating and closing deals with customers in a virtual selling environment.

To precisely measure rapport, your customer relationship management (CRM) data needs to be accurate and up to date. Require your sales team to provide detailed notes on the buyer organization’s problems, why your solution is the best match and the expected return on investment.

Top Training Methods that Build Credibility, Trust and Rapport Behaviors

The research identified coaching and mentoring, video-based learning and mobile learning as the most effective methods to build credibility, trust and rapport. Interestingly, there’s not much difference between the sales practices that build and fail to build credibility, trust and rapport. Why? With many sales training programs offered online, it has never been easier for corporate learning and development (L&D) managers to offer access to thousands of videos, lessons and other pieces of eLearning content. When confronted with such an array of sales training programs, give priority to quality content that teaches the behaviors and skills that matter most to driving sales results.

The Takeaway

Each stage of the sales cycle is an opportunity for sales professionals to establish and build credibility, trust and rapport with customers. These skills set the foundation for sales performance in any organization and are critical to closing deals in a virtual environment.

To maximize the return on your sales training investment, organizations must actively take steps to measure the behaviors that matter most to ensure their training is working. Without effective measurement practices in place, organizations lack insight into the performance of their salespeople and whether they are properly equipped with the skills they need to be successful.

Download the ValueSelling Associates e-book, “The Behaviors and Skills Sales Leaders Care Most About – and How to Measure Them,” for more detail on the research findings and more practical and actionable recommendations on how to accurately measure the selling behaviors that build credibility, instill trust and develop rapport with buyers.