Launching a Sales Academy could be the smartest move your organisation makes in 2023
What we think | Sales Digest

Launching a Sales Academy could be the smartest move your organisation makes in 2023

After decades of working with some of the best sales teams in the world, from a diverse range of industries, I have identified eight core sales metrics that reliably demonstrate how Sales Academies can improve sales performance.

In short, Sales Academies are a game changer.

So, what’s a Sales Academy?

A Sales Academy is a structured approach to developing the revenue-generating engine of your company. It allows sales mentors to build sales professionals that are experts at selling your brand. They’re loyal, motivated and have a clear career progression plan.

With a Sales Academy in place, your sales professionals will know what they need to do to perform, progress and develop, while sales management will know the competencies they need to coach and nurture. Sales Academies provide the focus and clarity that ultimately contributes to having a winning sales team. So, let us consider the question of ‘why you should build a Sales Academy’ with best sales trainers for your organisation bystarting with the metrics. They provide you with a baseline for your business case. Now, we’ll explore what is it that Sales Academies deliver to drive improved results.

  1. Win rate % – This is the primary indicator of your competitiveness and effectiveness in the market. Simply put, how many deals are closed and won. We’ve seen sales teams double their win rates by introducing a Sales Academy.
  2. Quota % attainment – What percentage of your sales team is achieving their quota?  We’ve seen a sales organisation where prior to Sales Academy – only 15% of the Enterprise Sales Team achieved or overachieved their quota, a whopping 50% achieved less than 50% of their sales quota. After 18 months of introduction of their Sales Academy, 40% of the sales team achieved or overachieved their sales quota, and 0% achieved less than 50% of their sales quota. What a turnaround!
  3. Time to Ramp – How long does it take for your new sales recruits to start selling and consistently deliver their quota?
  4. Salesforce Turnover / Attrition – High turnover is an indicator of ‘poor health’, probably low morale, commitment and engagement, and the unlikely retention of your sales team. Prior to Sales Academy, one organisation had high ‘fail rates’ of new hires and labour turnover running at 35%. Within a year following the introduction of Sales Academy, turnover had dropped to 17%, and 24 of the top 40 sellers in Business Sales were recruits hired and trained through Sales Academy.
  5. Deal Size – A meaningful gauge of the effectiveness of your sales team to sell across your range of products and services, create a demand for multi-divisional solutions, etc.
  6. Deal Profitability – Low deal profitability is often a result of price-discounting, which in turn is related to ‘poor selling’. Sellers who resort to price-discounting often don’t have the skills necessary to create value in deal accelaration.
  7. Sales Cycle Length – The average length of your sales cycles often reflects the effectiveness of your sales team and their engagement with buyers.  As sellers increase their productivity, the average sales cycle length decreases.
  8. Job satisfaction – What is the job satisfaction of your sales team? Is it increasing or decreasing over time? What insights does it provide regarding the happiness or ‘mood’ of your sales team? ‘Happy cows produce more milk’. In the companies we studied, the introduction of Sales Academy has directly increased job satisfaction, as measured by surveys and interviews. In addition, these companies are now recognised as the ‘employer of choice’ in their industry.

Sales Excellence does not happen by chance. We know that continual training and development are a foundation for an exceptional sales team. Every salesperson – no matter where they are in their careers and regardless of their success – can benefit from continuous, relevant learning and growth.

Hiring the right people is only the start of it. And we all know that a solid sales induction is essential for getting new salespeople off to a great start. But the initial job training shouldn’t stop here. So many sellers fail months after their start date, simply because the right support structure is not in place following the‘basic training’.

Creating your Sales Academy with efficient sales mentors starts with having a clear vision for your Centre of Sales Excellence. What is your vision? Is it for truly world class sales performance? Your Sales Academy vision should be directly linked to the vison of your organisation. By the way, having a vision for world class is not merely words. In some organisations, we have seen the development investment per sales professional is at 3 times the industry average.

The best Sales Academies have budget and increasingly, we see them reporting directly to or reporting through a dotted line to vice-president or CxO level.

From the outset, the goal of your Sales Academy should be to drive sales performance. Improving Sales Performance should be built into every program and activity. The uplift in sales should be measured ongoing. In a Sales Academy we recently studied, the objective is fast track / fast ramp all new sales hires, so they are ‘licensed to sell’ within 30 days of joining the organisation and achieving their full quota within 90 days (ongoing).

The Sales Academies we’ve studied have relatively ‘simple’ steps to world class.

The first step is defining sales competencies – what does world class look like? You’ll have a competency model tuned to your industry and type of sale. For example, selling IT -SaaS solutions has unique differences when compared with selling successfully in FMCG, Finance and Banking, Telecommunications, Professional Services, Health /Life Sciences, and so on. It’s also important to have your sales competencies tuned to role, for example – Inbound or Outbound SDRs have different competencies and performance targets compared to BDMs, AEs, Pre-Sales, Sales Leaders etc. All sales team members require programs appropriately tailored to their role and level of experience.

The next important step is to assess your sales team for their competency. This is another game changer. It’s so important to identify strengths and development needs at a group and individual level. Strategic programs can then be designed to target specific skill and knowledge gaps, vs generic programs that do not impact performance. The top Sales Academies use Assessment centres for recruitment of new hires and Development centres for assessing existing sales team members. Don’t forget to include business partners or channel partners in your thinking.

Sales Academy will provide a curriculum of programs and establish learning pathways, providing learning content and delivery via diverse options – learning via face to face, remote, desktop or mobile applications, use apps such as Gong (recording of sales calls) or accelerate learning using tech such as Mural, which enable you to unlock hidden superpowers and leverage them faster. Masterclasses delivered by Sales Academy will launch new products or services and communicate changes in market or competitive landscape, upgrading knowledge and skills as required, right on time.

Imagine your new sales team member…. on day one they will ‘enter’ the Sales Academy, understand what drives sales performance, complete a development assessment, and receive a tailored development plan. From their very first day, they will understand why the right mindset and motivation is needed for success, and navigate programs to learn all they need to learn — products and services, systems and processes (for selling), selling skills, sales leadership, and more.

They will understand what it means to drive their performance and results.

To summarise, key benefits of your Sales Academy will be:

  • Boosting Sales revenue and growth
  • Improved quota attainment and win rates
  • Shorter time to productivity for new sales professionals
  • A forum for exchanging ideas and strategies
  • 360-degree development that covers all aspects of the sale cycle
  • Providing career path and career progression
  • Reduced sales team attrition
  • Motivating your sales team to learn and develop
  • Providing rewarding and motivating environment to work in
  • Creating a strong coaching culture
  • Delivering ‘sales enablement’ when and where it is needed
  • Delivering a healthy return on your investment

For companies willing to invest, having a Sales Academy can make all the difference between winning and losing, success and failure.

Ian Lyall Tripura Multinational Facilitator Coach
Ian Lyall works as a Sales, Leadership Facilitator and Performance Coach and is focused on helping leaders and individuals achieve transformational growth and results. Ian has over 25 years global business management experience in Asia, Europe, and the United States. When he is not designing or delivering programs, you’ll find Ian deep under the water, engaging in his passion for Scuba Diving and Photography.
Chandrani Datta works as a Manager-Content Research and Development with almost a decade’s experience in writing and editing of content. A former journalist turned content manager, Chandrani has written and edited for different brands cutting across industries. The hunger for learning, meaningful work and novel experiences keeps her on her toes. An avid traveller, Chandrani’s interests lie in photography, reading and watching movies.

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