CARLSBAD, Calif. — Feb. 8, 2022 — Only 25% of sales organizations are directly measuring sales behaviors that drive sales success, according to the just-released ValueSelling Associates, Inc. research findings and e-book, “The Behaviors and Skills Sales Leaders Care Most About — and How to Measure Them.”

“Our research findings mean that 75% of sales teams are driving down the interstate with their focus fixed on the rear-view mirror,” said Julie Thomas, President and CEO of ValueSelling Associates. “Many sales leaders only measure sales outcomes. Measuring both selling behaviors and sales results is critical to determine if a healthy revenue pipeline is on the horizon.”

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 successful with an increasingly virtual B2B sales model.

The Most Impactful Virtual Selling Behaviors at Each Stage of the Buying Cycle

The research reveals the sales behaviors that matter most when engaging with buyers during virtual interactions at each stage of the buyer journey:

Stage 1: Engaging with Prospects

  • 61% of sales leaders rate “establishing credibility and trustworthiness” as the top skill.

Stage 2: Prospecting and Qualifying Leads

  • 56% of respondents agreed that effective lead qualification is driven by “asking good questions/actively listening.”

Stage 3: Negotiating

  • 48% of respondents believe the most important behavior for negotiating is a seller’s ability to “maintain rapport with buyers.”

Stage 4: Closing Deals

  • 56% of respondents view “maintaining relationships with existing customers” as the essential sales behavior for closing deals.

What Sales Leaders Measure Today and Why That Isn’t Enough

While 98% of survey respondents measure their team’s sales performance in one way or another, their understanding of sales effectiveness is most often tied to sales outcomes – only 25% are directly measuring the sales behaviors that deliver these outcomes.

Sales leaders’ understanding of sales effectiveness is mainly based on sales coaching reports (57%) and supervisor ratings (55%). And, we often see sales success attributed to market circumstance or luck, versus the skill of the salespeople.

The danger hidden here is that coaching reports are influenced by the interpersonal dynamics between the supervisor and the sales representative. They are not entirely objective, despite a sales leader’s best efforts. Supervisor ratings, meanwhile, are most often tied to a single metric: “Did you hit your number or not?”

Three-quarters of sales leaders favor lagging indicators, such as increased revenue and margins, transaction size, and the number of deals won. By contrast, the other 25% take a more cohesive view and monitor sales behaviors, which are leading indicators. These behaviors could include sales reps blocking time on their calendars for prospecting, completing more phone calls, and writing more follow-up plan letters.

The Gap Between Desired Behaviors and Sales Metrics

Many sales organizations have a disparity between how they want salespeople to act and the sales outcomes they are striving to achieve. The only way to know whether a sales training initiative was successful is to measure it — both by keeping an eye on selling behaviors (leading indicators) and sales results (lagging indicators). 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.

Thomas advises, “To maximize the investment in sales training, 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.”

About Training Industry, Inc.

Training Industry, Inc. spotlights the latest news, articles, case studies, and best practices within the training industry. Training Industry, Inc. research captures the collective wisdom of learning professionals, revealing fresh data on trends and practices in the evolving training market.

About ValueSelling Associates, Inc.

ValueSelling Associates is the creator of the ValueSelling Framework®, the practical and proven sales methodology preferred by sales executives around the globe. Since 1991, ValueSelling Associates has helped thousands of sales professionals increase their sales productivity and realize immediate revenue growth. We offer customized training to FORTUNE 1000, mid-sized and start-up companies to keep it simple and drive sales results.