Intense competition for top talent. The complexities of sales cycles. Empowered buying committees. These are just of a few of the challenges that present themselves in today’s pressure-cooker sales markets and contribute to why it’s harder than ever to sell.

The ever-present drive to increase revenue is the number one goal of sales enablement. But how you measure sales success is critical. To gauge sales effectiveness, most sales leaders look to productivity (the activities their reps perform each day) and performance (the resulting output of their team’s efforts). Yet, there is one critical component being overlooked, and it’s causing companies to miss substantial opportunities for improvement: proficiency. Out of the “three Ps” of performance, productivity, and proficiency, the third “P” is the most insightful metric of all.

To analyze your team, you might begin by looking at how reps spend their days and establish their results. You know they hit the phones hard, yet their numbers aren’t always where they should be, in spite of their efforts. What’s missing in this equation is the middle metric: how effective they are at delivering their messages. This is known as proficiency.

Sales enablement can influence knowledge, skills, and behaviors — in short, the proficiency — of reps. In essence, the secret to a high-performing sales team is an organization’s ability to motivate, measure, and drive proficiency improvements over time. That’s why the key to maximizing results is making proficiency a foundational metric of your program.

No matter what market you’re in, how you sell ends up being far more important than what you’re actually selling. Because of this, sales leaders need to proactively and continually arm their reps with the equipment and tools needed to succeed. This is just one reason why sales enablement is so critical and continues to grow as a dedicated business function. And the sales enablement processes your company chooses to adopt are just as, if not more important than, the decision to have a dedicated sales enablement function in the first place.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the standard sales enablement practices and where sales reps are missing opportunities for improvement. If sales reps aren’t hitting their numbers (performance), sales managers must first figure out if their reps are doing the right things to be successful (productivity). his is what typical sales enablement identifies. But if reps are doing their jobs — making the right calls and following the right procedures — management must dig deeper to pinpoint the specific reason the numbers are being missed. This is where proficiency comes into play.

Without the proper context and insight into rep proficiency, sales leaders will struggle to identify the root cause of the problem, which leads to dead ends when it comes to rectifying the issues.

What’s really needed is the ability to overlay a sales rep’s proficiency information (their strengths and weaknesses) with sales performance metrics (such as win rates, pipeline growth, and average deal size). In doing so, sales leaders can employ a more data-driven, personalized approach to guiding their reps to success. This approach allows sales leaders to identify weak areas and address them with precise, targeted coaching and sales enablement strategies for proficiency.

This new, data-driven approach focuses not only on productivity and performance numbers, but also connects the two through the metric of proficiency. It is far more effective at helping reps at all levels adopt winning skills and improve their numbers. In fact, according to CSO Insights, this dynamic sales enablement approach, along with an approach using analytics and a larger sales enablement framework based on the customer journey, yields up to 66% higher win rates.

It’s time to rethink the cadence and format of sales enablement. Go beyond the standard, episodic training events and create a continuous sales enablement that builds the product and market knowledge and the necessary selling and relationship skills required for reps to thrive in today’s selling environment. And what’s the end result? Teams that can reach their full potential and, more important, predictably deliver on their company’s most strategic business goals. Proficiency is the missing link to making that a reality.

The secret to a high-performing sales team is an organization’s ability to motivate, measure, and drive proficiency improvements over time.”

Rich Lanchantin | CEO, Qstream