Sales Enablement Tools: Competency Thresholds

The key to a great coaching culture is a measurable set of competency thresholds. With it, sales coaches have the performance metrics needed to create a high level of accountability. Combined with online video training, competency thresholds help your sales team members learn, grow, improve, and master selling process fundamentals.

There’s an old saying: “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.” For sales managers, it’s more true now than ever. They focus on sales numbers, CRM reports, and other data to measure activity and performance. Company success depends on it.

However, when it comes to sales training or coaching, such measurements are not typical. We agree that measurement is probably a good idea—one that will produce results. But sales knowledge and technique are hard to measure, and therefore hard to manage. (One metric that usually doesn’t work well is memorized answers to rote questions. Quizzes have their place, but aren’t a replacement for active sales coaching.)

What Are Competency Thresholds?

Sales coaching is about raising the skill level and performance potential of sales team members—under the pressure of simulated real-world conditions. Competency thresholds let the coach measure progress in this area, and dramatically accelerate improvement. A simple way to think about competency thresholds is the sequence:


In sales coaching, participants focus on a particular skill, such as communicating three compelling and tailored competitive advantages. Then they demonstrate how it’s done, with live and recorded examples, and then practice until each team member achieves an acceptable performance level. This can be expressed as a numeric ranking, given by the coach, or by the sales team leader or fellow members.

Feedback and repetition are key to reinforcing these skills. Ideally, salespeople are motivated to pass competency thresholds, using them to drive a ground-up, intrinsically motivated desire to be further coached, tested, and certified.

Live, Asynchronous, or Both

The most powerful application of measurable competency thresholds occurs during live, one-on-one coaching. It can also be supplemented by video chat or ordinary telephone and conference calls—also live, if not face-to-face. The real problem of course is getting coach and team members together for these powerful experiences. Schedules, and the reality of modern sales demands, make it a herculean task.

The answer of course is a secure online system that facilitates competency threshold activity asynchronously—at the convenience of each individual member. Recorded or uploaded video is an ideal medium for the “demonstrate” and “practice” aspects of creating such a metric. Audio is equally valid, especially if the sales team is primarily engaged with prospects on the phone.

Simply watching and recording videos is only part of the solution. The coaching and testing components must also be integral to the interactive video training system.

It’s not an either/or proposition. Sales coaches can reap the benefits of live interaction and asynchronous, interactive video—in a blended learning environment.

Most sales training merely raises awareness, without finishing the job, The goal of competency thresholds is raise competency in a meaningful, measurable way. When done right, it is a powerful way to focus coaches and trainers on results that generate sales.

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