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Tracking By Hand

Looking back at the tracking process used to evaluate the impact of sales training, there are some things that Maureen Haga would change.

January 1, 1994
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Looking back at the tracking process used to evaluate the impact of sales training, there are some things that Maureen Haga, corporate sales trainer for Chicago-based R. R. Donnelley & Sons, would change. For one, she says she would somehow automate the process. Haga taught three four-and-a-half- day training courses between May and October 1990, in which approximately 65 sales representatives participated. She tracked the progress of each of these individuals for 18 months after they completed their training. (See the main story for the results of tracking the first group of 26 trainees.)

Tracking consisted of both phone conversations and written memos to each of the participants every six weeks, starting six months after their training sessions.

For each individual, Haga had to generate a file consisting of:

  • The sales representative's name and the date on which he or she completed the sales training course
  • A customer-description questionnaire that the training participants completed on a hard-to-sell customer before the training
  • A sales-strategy planning guide for the same hard-to-sell customer, which the participants completed on the last day of their training
  • The progress of each participant on his or her sales strategy during an 18-month period. (If a participant left the company or was pulled off the case being tracked, Haga had to remove that person from the study.)
  • The date the participants closed their sales and the results of the sale. (For those who didn't meet their goals by the end of 18 months, Haga made a note in their file to this fact.)

In addition to all of this information, Haga had to keep files on new-sales commission data, not only before and after training for the 65 individuals who participated, but also for 65 sales representatives who served as a control group. (Acquiring the commissions data was actually the biggest challenge Haga encountered during the process, due to its confidentiality.) All of this information Haga collected and recorded manually. "It was a nightmare," says Haga.

Just keeping track of all of the information was difficult enough. Having a lot of irrelevant information made tracking results even harder. For example, "In the customer-description questionnaire, a lot of the material that [the participants] gave me was more nice-to-know than need-to-know information," says Haga. "I had to sift through a lot of data to extract what I needed." If she were to go through the process again, Haga says she would ask for more specific information that's directly aligned to the goal.

Personnel Journal, February 1994, Vol.73, No. 2, p. 86.

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