Sales enablement leaders often ask us how they can better measure whether their efforts are truly making an impact. While there are a number of ways to measure sales enablement, certifying reps is a great way to do it. Based on the increasing number of inquiries we receive on this subject, our clients seem to agree. Here are some key points to keep in mind when putting together a certification program for your sales team.
Certify at Three Levels
The first step is to determine what should be certified (e.g. company knowledge, product knowledge, selling approach). You should then develop a program that will certify reps at three levels:
Some additional pointers
After explaining these three levels, SiriusDecisions is inevitably asked by harried sales managers: “Are we expected to certify all of our reps, on all of our products, at all three levels?” Unless you really want to, the answer is no. You can decide to assess them in certain key areas, such as depth of knowledge regarding a few key products, effectiveness in articulating the company elevator pitch, or ability to deliver your differentiated value message. What you ultimately want to assess is the rep’s “readiness” to sell your solutions to the appropriate buying audiences (what one client calls “customer ready”).
The certification process should not be punitive. We have seen cases where capable reps are crushed after being humiliated during a level-two assessment in front of peers. The rep should be set up for success, with clear expectations established in an assessment guide.
Lastly, we see clients beginning to segment their field force based on “certification gates.” For example, “bronze reps come out of new-hire boot camp fully level-one certified on all products; “silver” status goes to those closing their first deal and reaching level-two certification on specific offerings; while “gold” is reached when reps obtain a certain threshold of sustained revenue and have achieved level-three certification for presenting to a senior executive.