This article is based on a presentation given by Aleksandra Mitroshkina at #GTM24 Online. Catch up on this presentation, and others, with GTM OnDemand. For more exclusive content, visit your GTM Blueprint dashboard.

Get ready to dive into the world of sales confidence – specifically, how to measure and improve it. 

By the end of this article, you'll have a blueprint for running, analyzing, and presenting sales confidence survey results to stakeholders, as well as strategies for boosting your go-to-market team's confidence.

Whether you're a seasoned pro or new to the game, we'll cover strategies that can help everyone boost their confidence and close more deals.

Understanding and measuring sales confidence

Let's start with what sales confidence is and how we can measure it. 

At its core, the formula for sales confidence can be simplified to this: 

Knowledge + experience = confidence to lead. 
The formula for sales confidence can be simplified to: knowledge + experience = confidence to lead.

While we can measure knowledge through tests and educational programs, and gauge experience by counting years in the field, confidence itself seems like a more abstract concept. It's hard to put a number on, right? Fear not – by the end of this article, you'll understand exactly how to measure it.

There are various tools for assessing sales confidence, but I believe the easiest, most affordable, and most effective one is a sales confidence survey. This simple survey is run for your go-to-market teams to understand their level of preparedness to pitch your products or services, take on competitors, and assess their potential for success as salespeople.

A sales confidence survey does more than just provide you with a baseline to act on and build a plan around. It also gives you valuable feedback on your current go-to-market activities – or highlights what you might be missing. 

But there are some less obvious long-lasting benefits:

  1. Better relations between go-to-market teams and product marketing teams (or whichever team is running the survey in your organization).
  2. Increased trust across the board.

Since I started running this survey in my organization, I've seen sales, customer success, and other go-to-market team members come to us with their suggestions and frustrations. This openness has exponentially increased confidence and trust between our teams.

"Sales Confidence surveys are an important tool for product marketing to collect valuable insights from sales, customer success, and our customers. This, in turn, helps the product marketing team know where to focus and helps them bring more value to the revenue teams, ultimately improving the customer experience." John Breitenfeld, Chief Revenue Officer @ Percona

Essentially, conducting a sales confidence survey and research will make your team an indispensable part of the go-to-market function. I believe that initiatives like these will help bridge the gap between sales and marketing, potentially making the old sales-versus-marketing dichotomy obsolete. So, let's all contribute to that goal!

Six steps to measure and enhance sales confidence

Now, let's dive into the six easy steps to measure and enhance sales confidence, plus some pro tips I've picked up over the years. 

Step-by-step Process of Measuring and Enhancing Sales Confidence. Step 1: Define Your Goals, Step 2: Create the Sales Confidence Survey, Step 3: Launch the Survey and Get Answers, Step 4: Follow Up with the Respondents to Get Deeper Insights, Step 5: Write a Survey Report and Socialize It, Step 6: Start Acting on the Plan

Before we start, I want to emphasize that this process is easily automated and scalable. My team of three people can complete this entire process – from setting up the survey to creating and socializing the plan – in less than 30 hours. So, if you follow these steps, you'll find the process quite quick and simple.

Step one: Define your survey goals

You might think that because it's called a "sales confidence survey," all you need to do is launch a survey, and the rest will take care of itself. Alas, that's not the case. Without laying the right foundation, you're unlikely to get the results you need. 

The first step that's often skipped is goal definition. It's crucial to keep your goals top of mind throughout the entire process. By clearly defining your goals at the outset, you'll ensure that your survey is focused and effective, providing you with the insights you need to enhance your team's sales confidence.

As you start this process, chances are you’ll be in one of these two situations:

  • Situation A: You have no prior data about sales confidence, or your team has changed significantly, affecting their needs and competence levels.
  • Situation B: You've already run some surveys and have established benchmarks.

For Situation A, your primary goal for the first survey should be to establish benchmarks. For Situation B, you'll want to see how your team has progressed since the last survey. You might also need to adjust the strategy you created for the previous survey, as needs tend to change over time.

When establishing benchmarks, I typically measure three key areas:

  1. Team confidence across all stages of the sales process (e.g., outreach, demoing, closing deals)
  2. Satisfaction with current enablement assets
  3. Knowledge of the product or service your team is selling
  4. Competitive intelligence and ability to outmaneuver competitors

Pro tips for defining your sales confidence survey goals

  1. Timing is crucial: Conduct your sales confidence research at the start of the sales cycle. Running it at other times may conflict with the team's goals, such as closing deals to meet quarterly targets. Ensure your survey gets the attention it deserves by conducting it at the beginning of a new quarter when the previous sales cycle has just ended.
  2. Frequency matters: While industry best practice suggests running surveys every six months, at my company we do it annually. This gives us time to roll out new initiatives and allows the sales team to adapt and feel the impact before the next survey. Feel free to experiment with different frequencies and adjust based on your specific needs.
  3. Update your benchmarks when necessary: If your team has changed significantly (over 30% employee turnover since the last survey), conduct a new benchmarking survey. New team members may have different needs and confidence levels.
  4. Set a target survey completion rate: I usually aim for 85%. I have a GTM team of about 60-80 people, so getting responses from around 50 is statistically significant. If you have a smaller team – say, 10 people – you might need to set a higher target to see clear patterns and trends. For larger teams, a 60% completion rate might suffice. 

Remember, these benchmarks and completion rates should be tailored to your specific situation. The key is to gather enough data to identify meaningful patterns and trends that will inform your sales confidence enhancement strategies. Once you start seeing repeating trends, it's time to wrap up the survey and move on to the next steps.