Many sales managers and executives are reluctant to invest in sales training for their sales reps simply because they don't believe they can justify the time spent and the cost. How can you tell whether sales training has produced a return on investment? In addition, time spent in sales training means time spent away from contacting and speaking with clients and prospects. The only way to measure the effects of sales training is incorporating a set of KPIs and specific ROI criteria. You already measure items such as client touches per day, conversions and spend per client. Why not measure sales training based on ROI?
Sales Training: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Some sales reps enjoy sales training because it allows a break from their normal, everyday routine, but if we're being honest it can be seen as a chore. The upside is acknowledged though—with the hope that the training will offer in-depth guidance that leads to bigger commission checks. It doesn't hurt that sales training can help to clear minds and provide some additional motivation. But, sales training can also be dull, repetitive, and stressful. Reading off scripts in front of your colleagues, participating in and getting scored on practice sales calls and even getting tested by the CEO can put a lot of strain on a sales rep. And, there's still no hard evidence that any of this training will pay off in the future. Sure, everyone might feel good afterward. Reps can bond over the experience and together come out on the other side—unscathed. The true ROI won't be confirmed until they're back work and lessons are ideally incorporated into their meetings. What's the ugly? Many times, sales reps will forget the training and revert back to their previous style of engaging clients and prospects. Well, the best sales leaders know that it is critical to understand ROI in sales and how it is bringing in additional dollars.
One of the most basic factors for measuring ROI is whether or not your sales reps enjoyed it and felt the training offered an advantage. Often surveys are passed out after sales training has commenced. These surveys should allow for anonymity so that sales reps feel confident expressing their true feelings. Here are a few questions that should be included:
- Did you like the trainer?
- Would you recommend this training, why or why not?
- Did you enjoy the training, why or why not?
- Was the material relevant to your line of work?
- Did you feel it was worth your time, why or why not?
Answers to these questions will give valuable insight into whether this particular sales training program was worth the investment of time and financial resources.
Consider Improvement in Pipeline Movement
Look at how much the pipeline has moved since then. This has to be about more than just conversion rates since there are many variables that contribute to that output. Instead, look at how many more prospects have become qualified leads since then. Then, look at how many more warm leads have moved from discussions to purchases. So, you're focused in on specific points within the pipeline instead of simply looking at cold calls to conversion. After the sales training, there will be conversions simply based on past work. Where you can really see is a difference is at the prospecting stage and whether the current outcome outpaces previous performance.
Take a Look at Each Rep Individually
Are the top performers improving? What about the low performers? You want to see whether your investment in your sales reps is providing measurable ROI. Look at the baseline numbers of each rep before and after training. With regard to lower performing reps, you should not expect miracles. On the other hand, if they participated in the sales training sessions then there should be some level of improvement. Furthermore, you want to understand which reps showed the most improvement and why. How did their activity change from before sales training and after? What are they doing differently now to enhance their sales efforts and outcomes? What did they learn which has benefited your quota? With all training, it takes time to form new habits. Low performers may be the last ones to show qualified results. So, consider measuring your findings for at least a month and a half after the training session. You can use your sales dashboard to measure each rep against their quota. You want to ensure you have enough data to verify your final take on whether the training was effective and produced a profitable return.
Another method for measuring ROI in sales is knowledge retention. It would be helpful to administer a test after the sales training session to determine if the content was useful enough and whether or not it was learned. A test can also flag areas where further training and additional coaching may be needed. Since the objective is to get a measurable ROI, a simple test will help to gauge the efficiency of the training.
Watch for Real-World Application
If they have learned several new prospecting techniques or a better method for closing sales, it is imperative to determine how your sales reps are applying their lessons to real-world scenarios. Perhaps they learned that it is good to ask relevant and leading questions. So, listen in on a few of their phone calls for pertinent sales ROI. Are they asking more questions? Moreover, are they asking the right questions to take the prospect down the right path towards a purchase? Also, are they asking similar questions to what they learned in the training session? How are their commission payments? In addition, maybe they learned how to write better sales emails. So, look at the emails they have recently sent to prospects and clients. Are they aligned with what was taught in sales training? Are they written and expressed more eloquently than they have been in the past? Are the calls and emails achieving results?
Understand the Value
Before you spend $50k on training, it is important to have a grasp of the value when it comes to sales ROI and training ROI. If the value comes out to an additional $25k in sales, then the investment is moot. Not to mention, sales training can be overwhelming for sales reps--to the extent where they can't digest all of the information thrown at them. For example, you might fly the team to a two-day sales training conference. Each day is packed with meetings from morning until the evening. After that, there are mixers. On the last day, everyone has dinner then heads back home. Once they have returned, there is no post-training application or reinforcement. You can't expect to change learned behaviors overnight. This is a process that will take more than two days or a week. Where training ROI can come in is if there is an adequate reinforcement of the lessons learned at the training event. Otherwise, sales reps will forget most of what was presented and practiced.
Sales training is essential if you feel your team could benefit from an update on their current methods of prospecting and closing. On the other hand, it can be a waste of resources if lessons aren't reinforced or applied on a daily basis. As a result, it is important to measure results to ensure that there is an ROI in sales. By using the above methods, you can quickly determine whether the sales training made an impact on your pipeline, sales movement, and quota.