Sales enablement has a problem. People think we suck at enabling our reps because we can’t prove the impact of what we do.
Many SaaS companies struggle with ramp time, and it’s getting worse over time. The Bridge Group reports that, on average, it takes 5 or more months for new sales reps to ramp at SaaS companies today.
And sales teams are not hitting quota. There’s usually a handful of reps carrying the bulk of the revenue number. Everyone else is a B or C player and not contributing as much as they should.
This means there’s a lot of money being left on the table.
Clearly, we need a reliable way to measure sales enablement –– and fortunately, with today’s technology, there is a way. Keep reading to learn the metrics you can use to prove your onboarding and training are successful.
The Opportunity Cost of Unmeasured Enablement
The two main areas enablement can help are Onboarding and Ongoing Enablement. But before we can look at how we should measure results in these areas, we need to evaluate the opportunity costs in each.
The ROI of Sales Enablement During Onboarding
What’s the value of ramping one month faster? Two months faster? Let’s break it down using a couple assumptions.
Let’s say your reps have a $600K yearly quota, and you’re a scale-up adding 48 new reps over 24 months (two new reps each month).
If your average ramp (time to consistent quota) at your company is seven months, ramping two month sooner will add $2.1M revenue across those 50 new hires.
We’re not talking about significant improvements in ramp time here, but the revenue gains are massive!
The ROI of Ongoing Sales Enablement
Now let’s switch to ongoing quota attainment.
Let’s again assume your 48 reps each carry a $600K annual quota, and the average quota attainment across your team is 52%.
Improving quota attainment a measly 4% –– from 52% to 56% –– is an additional $1.2M in annual revenue, without having to make any drastic improvements.
The math is there. Great Sales Enablement has the opportunity to drive significant revenue numbers for organizations. But without the right measurement, we can’t actually enable reps correctly –– much less measure the effect of that enablement.
GET THE EBOOK: The Definitive Guide to Sales Enablement
Why Can’t Sales Enablement Get Better?
Let’s take a page from the Learning and Development book and look at the Kirkpatrick Model to understand.
Kirkpatrick was a professor at the University of Wisconsin who popularized a theory for evaluating the effectiveness of training courses.
This model has four levels, which are designed as a sequence of ways to evaluate the effectiveness of your training programs. As you proceed deeper through each of the levels, the evaluation becomes more difficult and requires more time.
Here’s a quick overview of the four levels of assessments for the Kirkpatrick model:
- Reaction: This is the first level of assessment and is the most basic. Here, you measure your reps’ initial reaction to the training. Did they like it? Did they find it useful? Was the material good? Did we use the right experts to run the programs? Etc.
- Learning: This is the second level of assessment. Here, you measure how much of the material was absorbed by your reps, and map it to the learning objective.
- Behavior: This is the third level of assessment, where you measure how much your programs have influenced the behavior of your reps and how they’re applying it in the field.
- Results: This is the fourth and final level of assessment. Here, you measure the impact your programs had at the business level. For this, you want to look at revenue and pipeline growth in sales, and you want to tie results to the different parts of the program or individuals.
To prove its value, Sales Enablement needs to measure the effectiveness of its programs on all four levels. But there’s a problem: There’s no rigor in instructional design in the sales enablement function. As a result, the bottom two layers aren’t always measured.
Sales enablers usually either come from:
- A Sales Management background – knowing the behaviors and numbers reps should have.
- A Learning and Development background – knowing how to train adults, but not for sales skills, since they lack expertise in carrying quotas and hitting numbers.
On top of that, there aren’t many tools and processes that can help combine these two backgrounds and areas of expertise. That makes it really hard to be effective at sales enablement.
If we’re not measuring for the bottom two layers of Kirkpatrick –– behaviors and bottom-line results –– then we’re only training for the sake of knowledge, and not for the sake of skills.
Unfortunately, this isn’t going to be an easy change, and here’s why…
Many trainers still use spreadsheets and live training as the anchor to their enablement or onboarding. Unless you’re manually gathering metrics, you don’t have enough data to prove enablement is actually working. It’s time to invest in some tools.
For the rest of you who are using some sort of tech, like a CMS or LMS, good! You can pull assessment numbers from many of those tools. But there are still gaps in the data you get from these tools.
For example, you may have good measures of skill improvement but still have trouble correlating those improvements to revenue results in your CRM.
You must be able to show behavioral and business-related metrics that demonstrate your enablement is working.
What’s the Future of Sales Enablement Measurement?
So how do we fill these gaps?
There’s no single (or simple) way you can measure everything you do for sales enablement. But it’s critical that the CRM is at the center of your enablement tech stack in order to be able to measure all the way down to deal metrics –– which correlates with Kirkpatrick’s 4th level.
A 2017 Gartner report, “Sales Enablement Technology Transforms the CRM Sales Landscape,” observed that some sales enablement vendors have matured into platform solutions and are well-suited for sales leaders.
The major jump in maturation is a direct result of deep integration into CRMs like Salesforce.
Take a look at how complex the sales enablement landscape has become. CRM and API integrations are at the center of it.
If you’re not integrating your enablement programs into your CRM (i.e., spreadsheets and corporate LMS), you can’t really call it “enablement” anymore.
At the very least, you need to be judging the ROI of Sales Enablement programs by business-level metrics, like pipeline and closed revenue. Otherwise, how do you know if you’re actually enabling reps?
You might just be another function of HR.
It’s time to put our sales hats on. It’s time to do the hard work and put our numbers on the line. There’s no easy way to do it –– but it CAN be done, and it’s the only way to be effective at sales enablement.
Start measuring those deal metrics against enablement, and you’ll quickly reduce ramp and improve quota consistency at your organization.
The Metrics You Need to Perfectly Assess Sales Enablement
In order to effectively measure your sales enablement, you need to identify the metrics that prove your onboarding and training is successful at each assessment level in the Kirkpatrick Model.
Metrics to Assess the Reaction, Learning, and Behavior Levels
At these levels, you’re measuring consumption of training and engagement with it.
- # of content views
- # of programs launched
- # of programs completed
- # of certifications
- # of video practices or calls recorded
- # of coaching activities
Metrics to Assess the Business-Level Results Level
Here, you’re measuring the impact of training and revenue productivity metrics.
- Time to first activity (TTFA)
- Time to first call
- Time to first meeting
- Time to first demo
- Time to first deal (TTFD)
- Time to 50% quota (TT50Q)
- Time to 80% quota (TT80Q)
- Time to 100% or full quota (TTFQ)
For a full list of metrics click here.
Unless you’re able to attribute your sales enablement programs to metrics that matter to you, you can’t prove they’re doing the job of helping your sales reps hit their goals.
It’s especially important to track a few key metrics in the Results level when assessing the effectiveness of your sales onboarding programs. They will help you create a predictive onboarding model, so cohorts of new-hires –– whether it be two, 20, or 200 people –– can all ramp in a consistent way.
How are you measuring the effectiveness of your enablement programs? What’s working (or not working) for you? Share your ideas in the comments.