SMART Ways to Prove the Value of Sales Training

Written by Josh Dhaliwal
on August 07, 2018

SMART-sales training

There’s a good chance you’re already using SMART goals in the workplace. But with 35% of CSOs reporting they don’t know what measurable improvements they seek from training investments, it’s possible you haven’t yet applied SMART goals to your sales training program.

Time to change that! Here’s a breakdown of how SMART goals apply to sales training and how you can use them to ensure you’re getting the most out of your training dollars.


In a study into the Business Case for Sales Training,
more than 50% of respondents stated their sales training
programs “needed improvement”. Just 9.6% of respondents
rated their sales training programs as having “exceeded expectations,” while 33% just “met expectations.”

CSO Insights


S is for Specific

Do your salespeople need help with the technology they’re using? Is it presentation style that needs working on? Could they use some extra insight into the best way to research a prospect? Or is it that they aren’t making the most of resources?

In order to set specific goals, it’s essential to take a targeted approach to sales training from the start, defining your course expectations with the trainer to ensure that what they deliver is in line with your expected outcome. Work with your sales team to plan training based around their needs and the benefits they would expect to see.

For example, if your team is telling you that the reason they’re not using the Sales Enablement Platform you have invested in is because they don’t understand how all of the features work, it would be worth sitting down with them first to establish what they do know before returning to your service provider to ask for help with the features that are less familiar. That way, when the training comes around, it is geared specifically to your need. That, in turn, makes the results easier to measure.


M is for Measurable

Measuring the impact of sales training can be tricky. While the example I’ve given above would be relatively easy to monitor given the analytics functions of the Sales Enablement Platform (you can download reports, for example, on how users are utilizing the various features, so an uptick would be immediately noticeable), it is harder to analyze the impact of training geared towards improving presentation style.

Hard is not impossible though, so as long as you have a solution in place – such as regular observations either by managers or trainers, and a ‘best practice’ checklist to mark those observations against, you can make everything measurable. Again, plan this from the outset. It’s no good scrabbling around for proof of ROI months after the training is completed.

In addition to the specific measurables, there are also the most desirable outcomes for the business, which ought to be monitored even if it’s not possible to draw direct correlations with the training provided. These are geared around:

  • Quota – are more reps achieving target? Can you establish a connection between those who have actively engaged with the training and those whose sales performance has improved?
  • Deals closed/win rate – is your team closing more deals?
  • Customer satisfaction – you’re looking for an improvement that shows your salespeople are better understanding and answering their customers’ needs.
  • Reduced staff turnover – effective training and development should give you a happier team, more inclined to stay with you.


7 out of 10 employees say that training and development opportunities influence their decision to stay with a company



A is for Achievable

What can you reasonably expect to gain from your training investment? If you’re spending out on a half-day workshop once a year and anticipating that this will solve your staff retention problems, I’d say it would need to be an incredibly motivating and engaging workshop. Your goals need to be specific and measurable, but also they need to be proportionate to the scope of the training and within reach of your team of human beings.


R is for Relevant*

Sales training goals should be relevant to the need and to the overall business. Again, this is a tricky one to monitor because training can have an impact beyond what you would initially hope for. I would recommend having a first and second string to your SMART goals, so that you are first and foremost measuring the specific and targeted outcome of the training, but also monitoring those aforementioned broader results, such as staff retention, to see what impact your training program is having.


T is for Time

SMART goals are time limited, which means you give yourself a strict time period in which to measure the results of your training session. For example, going back to the training on Sales Enablement Platform functionality, you would hope to see fairly immediate results from the first session, increasing over a period of a few months up to a point where it would become clear that users either fully understood the features of the app or that further training was necessary. Unless you opted to continue the training for an extended time period – and there are certainly benefits to offering continuous sales training – you wouldn’t still be monitoring the success of that specific training a year down the line.


An example of a SMART sales training goal

Let’s take the hypothetical Sales Enablement Platform training example and turn it into a SMART goal:

So, my team of 15 salespeople are going to attend a half-day in-person workshop in March 2018 to get to know the Content Sets features of iPresent. My SMART goal for the training session is:

These 15 people will individually increase their use of content sets in sales meetings by 50% by the end of June 2018.

I have implemented a specific goal – increasing the use of content sets – and I can measure its progress using the analytics functions built into the app to see both how frequently content sets are used and for how long. I will be able to measure usage and judge the sales team’s success based on my knowledge of how many meetings they attended during this time. Given what I know of current usage, a 50% increase is certainly achievable and still gives room for further improvement down the line. This goal is relevant both to the need the salespeople reported and directly to the training that I’m implementing, though I would also expect to see a wider monetary benefit from the increased use of the Sales Enablement Platform. I’ve limited this goal to three months to test the effectiveness of the training. SMART.

*R is also sometimes for realistic, but I feel like we covered that with Achievable…


How are you applying SMART goals to sales training? We’d love to hear from you!

What are these content sets all about? I hear you ask. Click here for a demo and we’ll show you! 




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