Why and How to Determine the ROI of Your Sales Training Program
Sales training programs are just one of many ways to spend company resources to grow sales. A finite number of dollars is available for a seemingly infinite number of priorities, including product improvement and development, marketing, hiring quality employees, and more. When companies choose to invest in sales training programs, they should have clear and definite ways of measuring the return on their investment (ROI).
Why ROI is Important
The number of variables that can influence a company’s growth and success at any given moment is large. The simplest measure of ROI is the company’s bottom line, but when the bottom line improves, was the sales training really responsible? How does company leadership know that it wasn’t a market shift, cost-cutting measures, or some combination of other factors that improved the bottom line?
A closer look at the ROI of sales training will help untangle the different threads of what can cause revenue improvements so that companies can get a more accurate picture of sales training’s impact. But before your company can make an accurate assessment of sales training ROI, it must first determine the objectives of the training and the desired outcomes in terms of attitude, behavior and results.
Priority One: Involve Sales Coaches
According to ASLAN Training president Marc Lamson, the biggest factor in getting a positive return on investment from your sales training programs is to make sure sales coaches buy into the program and involve themselves in it deeply. Sales coaches are the sales team leaders and mentors: if their support is not unwavering and complete, sales team members will also be less than enthusiastic.
How should you expect your sales staff to react to sales training when the sales coaches don’t embrace it, are too busy to learn about it, or contradict it? Of course, they are more likely to have negative attitudes and resent the training than they are to follow it. Already, momentum is lost and lasting change is unlikely.
Criteria to Measure ROI
Once sales coaches are on board and sales reps have reacted well to the training program, the other steps can follow. The intermediate steps of comprehension and behavior changes are a great source of measurable ROI that companies often overlook in their focus on results above all else.
The ROI of a sales training program can’t always be measured by looking at the bottom line.
It isn’t that results are not important; they most certainly are. However, since it isn’t always possible to determine how much of a change in bottom line is due to a sales training program, other criteria may provide a more complete picture of a program’s impact.
Measuring the comprehension level of program participants will tell you how much sales reps have actually learned and retained from the sales training. ASLAN offers a variety of reinforcement solutions to help ensure retention of training information. The reps’ “forgetting curve” can be measured after training. If reps don’t remember what they learned in sales training, they won’t be able to turn these principles into improved sales behaviors.
Behavior change is the next criteria to measure to determine ROI. If the sales team’s behaviors haven’t changed measurably after sales training, any bottom line change is likely due to other factors within the company. Conversely, to the extent that behaviors do change and conform to what is learned in a sales training program, positive changes in sales numbers should happen as well.
Measuring the Results of a Sales Training
Why don’t most companies measure sales training ROI?
Lamson says, often it’s a case of not knowing how to break down the metrics and see what factors contribute to improvement.
“Companies measure revenue and maybe the number of phone calls reps make, but there are a lot of other things to be measured in between,” he asserts.
There is more to measuring the results of a sales training than just measuring changes in the company’s bottom line. It’s important to determine exactly what led to the bottom line increases the company is experiencing. Not only could bottom line increases (or decreases) be caused by other changes within the company, but they could be caused by any number of sales training results. It’s important to know what works and what doesn’t in order to refine the sales training process going forward.
One way to measure the results of a sales training program is to look at how many new opportunities are in the pipeline, compared to before the program. A shortened sales cycle can be another measure of success as sales reps learn how to gain access to decision makers and advance them to the point where a sale closes. Being able to negotiate larger profit margins for sales is another specific measure of a training program’s success.
Using measures of specific results rather than just looking at whether revenue has gone up or down will show the true ROI of your sales training program and help you determine its success. Often, it won’t take long to see these results. Lamson has seen increases in sales happen in as little as one day for companies with phone sales and a short sales cycle.
“When your sales cycle is an 8-minute phone call, the changes should be apparent almost immediately,” he says. “For a company with a sales cycle of 18 months, it will obviously take longer.”
The By-Products of Successful Sales Training
By looking at the culture of a sales team after training has been completed, it’s not difficult to tell whether the program has been successful. If reps’ attitudes are positive, they are motivated to do well, the morale of the group is good, and good reps are being retained, chances are, the sales training program has had a positive impact. These measurements are not difficult to measure by direct observation of a sales team, and the specific numbers-based metrics related to behavior change and results should match up to these more subjective by-products fairly well.
When reps learn the skills they need to improve as salespeople, the reverberations can be felt all through the company in engagement and general excitement about the opportunities ahead. Lamson calls this “success momentum” and feels it is an important part of any company’s success.
“Success breeds success,” he declares. “People want to be on a winning team.”
Contact us to discuss whether ASLAN’s Other-Centered® sales training programs might be what your company needs to build its success momentum.
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