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Making the Business Case for Sales Training: New Research on Supporting Top Performance

Executives are always on a mission to prove Kirkpatrick Level 4 measurement of training: Results. Specifically, they want to know to what degree targeted outcomes occur as a result of the training event and subsequent reinforcement.

There is relatively little data on how sales training correlates to business performance and results.

That is, until now.

The RAIN Group Center for Sales Research analyzed data from 472 sellers and executives, representing companies with sales forces ranging from 10 to 5,000-plus sellers. We wanted to know what the Top-Performing Sales Organizations do differently to achieve the best results. We found that Top-Performing Sales Organizations:

  • Achieve higher opportunity win rates
  • Capture maximum value in pricing
  • Set challenging sales goals and achieve them more often
  • Are better able to fill pipelines, win opportunities, and grow accounts
  • Have highly motivated sales teams
  • Are more capable of delivering value
  • Have stronger cultures of sales success and motivation
  • Attract top talent more frequently

Based on a subset of these factors, we bucketed respondents into 3 performer groups: Elite Performers, Top Performers, and The Rest.

One major finding: effective sales training does, indeed, correlate with business results.

Top Performance and Sales Training

The study asked participants to rate the organization's sales training on a number of factors related to the development of sellers and culture and investment in sales training.

While you might expect those organizations with robust sales training to see better results, the difference was stark. Those with the highest overall sales training rating (a mean score of 4.0-5.0, out of 5.0) had an average win rate of 58%. While the others (a mean score of 3.0-3.9) had an average win rate of just 47%.

When it comes to win rate, even small changes can have a dramatic effect on an organization's overall revenue and profitability. The difference here is 11 percentage points, and could represent millions or tens of millions of dollars in additional sales for an organization without adding any sales headcount.

Top Performers have much stronger sales training effectiveness, being 2x more likely to say their training is very or extremely effective compared to The Rest. Plus, they're significantly more likely to invest and focus on sales training.

Sales Training Effectiveness by Performance
Investment and Focus on Sales Training by Performance
 Sales Training Effectiveness by Performance  Investment and Focus on Sales Training by Performance
EP-TP-TR Key.png

Taking it a step further, stronger sales training correlates to stronger sales capabilities across skill areas.

Sales Skills by Sales Training Effectiveness
Sales Skills by Sales Training Effectiveness

In addition, the study looked at correlations among dozens of different factors across the research. One area that stood out was the relationship between training and sales motivation. Organizations that have more effective training are more likely to have more motivated salesforces.

Motivation and Sales Training Effectiveness
Motivation and Sales Training Effectiveness


When sellers are confident in their skills and believe the organization is a strong partner willing to invest in their development, you'll get a team selling with hustle, passion, and intensity consistently over the long term.

The data is clear. The companies that truly excel in sales training enjoy better business results.

Additional Reading
[Take the Survey] New Research: What’s Working in Sales Prospecting, What’s Not?

By: Mary Flaherty and Mike Schultz

If there's a black box in the world of sales, it's prospecting. What to do, how to do it, and what it means to be good at it. And with all the conflicting advice out there, it's especially difficult to figure out where to start and how to get better.

Infographic: 5 Sales Skills to Differentiate Your Team

In our recent Top-Performing Sales Organization study, we were particularly interested in the sales skills that stood out when sellers not only met their goals, but also believed their goals were challenging.

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