Was every penny you ever spent on Training a waste of money?
In Sales Training we are often challenged to explain the expected return on investment of the training we’re invited to deliver. It’s a fair question, but an incredibly difficult one to answer.
We could, of course, use the simplest of measures.
A simple division of the upfront investment into the results returned as an outcome of the training.
For example: taking the incremental revenue growth over an agreed period and divide that by the training investment. The hope being that a bigger number than the investment presents itself.
R: £100,000 incremental revenue shift / I: £10,000 training = 10X ROI
That’s risky though. There are no ‘silver bullets’. Instant gratification does not exist and if it did, it would be incredibly expensive to buy.
Demonstrating ROI continues to be a big challenge for sales management and development teams. The return, the ‘R’, is so difficult to measure and can be impacted by a myriad of factors.
Determining the investment, the ‘I’, is easy. It’s typically a fixed value. It’s been budgeted and spent. It often doesn’t include softer costs like time and resources, but even they can be calculated easily.
The ‘R’ however, well that is significantly more challenging….
It can take a while to appear. You, and your team, may want instant gratification. But that’s not how training works.
It takes time, desire and commitment, for behaviours and techniques to shift.
It takes even longer for those shifts to have a measurable impact on sales performance.
If you are in a complex selling environment, then the sales cycle is likely to be a lengthy one. Lengthy sales cycles extend the time to return significantly. The budget can be spent, the training a distant memory, the result coming a very long way down the line.
The desire is to measure the ‘R’ as an increase in sales revenue. The ‘I’ had a clearly identified financial value, why should the ‘R’ be any different?
It certainly could be measured in that way, but the case for ‘R’ by revenue alone can be tough to justify.
There are many elements that can influence revenue growth. New products, your customers, the economic landscape, competitive factors, marketing enhancements.
Everyone will try and take credit for revenue performance shifts from the marketing department to product development to the CEO. There will always be many initiatives, in various parts of the business, that can correlate to an increase in activity and ultimately in revenue.
Trying to divine the direct impact Sales Training had on an increase in revenue can be a tough battle to fight. And a battle you’ll have too fight on many fronts.
Revenue is not a comprehensive ‘R’ for determining the impact of sales training, in isolation. It’s not wrong, it’s just incomplete.
There are many other ways we can measure impact.
There are 3 strong areas of metrics that professional sales teams measure. To find our true ROI we should reflect across all 5.
#1 Business Results (Lagging Indicators)
Business results include elements like revenue, gross margin improvements (as a result of sales behavioural shift), reduced discounts, product sales goals.
#2 Sales Objectives/Goals (Leading Indicators)
Sales objectives like client-base growth, win-rates, win-speed (time to close), client development (such as growth in average revenue per client), client retention.
#3 Sales Behaviours/Activities (Leading Indicators)
Sales behaviours include making calls, qualifying leads efficiently and effectively, booking appointments, completing client development plans, attending training, presenting clean pipelines and accurate forecasts
There are 2 additional elements that are important to factor in.
#4 Personal Growth (Leading Indicators)
Personal Growth can be measured using the right tools. Assessments can help you identify strengths and areas for improvement. Re-assessing will demonstrate growth in the individuals’ competence and confidence in a particular discipline.
#5 Certification (Leading Indicators)
Sales training is an investment in people, and Sales Certification programs ensure organizations know exactly how well their investment is performing. Certifications examine individuals to prove they can apply the principles taught in the real-world.
There is a direct connection between each of these metrics.
Here are some real-world examples.
Samantha, an Inside Salesperson, is diagnosed as needing to improve her Prospecting.
Samantha undergoes a series of Effective Prospecting training sessions. As a result of the training Sam starts to make more prospecting calls and utilises LinkedIn more systematically (Behaviours).
Samantha wants to win more new customers (an Objective), that should lead to more revenue and profit (a Result).
Samantha saw a 1.7X increase in revenue in the first 12 months, post training, and continues to perform in the top 10% of her organisation. The ROI on the training investment in
Samantha was 10.7X. Samantha continues to invest in her growth working with her Sandler Coach.
John, a Key Account Manager, is diagnosed as needing to improve at Account Development.
He wants to double the revenues from his Top 10 customers (an Objective), that should lead to more revenue and profit (a Result).
John undergoes a series of Account Development training sessions. He develops Strategic Account Plans for his top 10 accounts (a Behaviour) and executes those plans.
John saw a 2.8X increase in revenue from his clientbase, in the first 6 months, and 4.8X increase by the end of the first year. John continues to perform in the top 5% of his organisation.
John now coaches all new members of the Account Development team in their first 90 days, once they have completed the same training program John undertook. The ROI on the training investment in John directly was 4.8X.
The true ROI on the training investment in John, across the organisation, now equates to more than 100X.
By combining Results, Objectives, Behaviours and Personal Growth we can more accurately reflect a Return on Investment.
For a true measure of the success of Training Investment focus first on the leading indicators; Objectives, Behaviours and Personal Growth.
If the Leading Indicators improve then the Lagging Indicators (Results) will often improve by a greater percentile.
Use Certification to ratify that investment and show the journey has been completed; from knowing to owning the training delivered. It’s the smartest way to prove the training has affected a shift. Sandler ais one of the only organisations globally to have a professionally recognised Certification program for Sales.
In the Sandler world we consistently review with our Clients their BAT-ting average.
That is Behaviour, Attitude and Techniques.
Attitude comes first. This is how we feel about ourselves, our industry, the abundance of our marketplace.
Behaviours are the actions we take in pursuit of our goals. Goal-setting (Objectives) is a Behaviour in, and of, itself.
Techniques can only be seen and brought to bear when the individual has the right attitude and adopts the right behaviours as habits.
When the BAT-ting average is up, the Results will follow.
Here are 5 Sandler Rules for Sales Leaders that reflect on your approach to measuring the results of your training investments.
Rule #11: Manage Behaviour, Not Results
Create a recipe for Success. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.
Rule #19: Train Your Team
Make sure they get the skills they need to do the job.
Make sure they are trained by someone who has done the job.
Rule #25: Don’t Let Your People Leave Training in the Classroom
Create a collaborative, equal partnership inside and outside the training room.
Managers must play an active role in any training.
Rule #26: Role-Play Creates Muscle Memory
The ears have to hear what the mouth is going to say.
Actors don’t walk on stage with their script in their hand.
Rule #48: Don’t Expect Sustainable Change from a Single Event
You can’t teach a kid to ride a bike at a Seminar.
Understand how your salespeople learn and grow.
Sales success can only be found through the consistent re-enforcement of a proven, efficient, effective, sales process.
Winging it simply won’t work.