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How To Get Maximum ROI from Your Sales Training Program

Sales Training
Chris Orlob
March 20, 2024

What is sales training ROI?

Sales training ROI (Return On Investment) refers to the profit generated for each dollar invested in a sales training program. It's a crucial metric for evaluating such programs' effectiveness and financial value.

Senior-level executives, such as sales managers and CFOs, use sales training ROI to justify training budgets, assess sales strategy, and continuously improve. However, they often struggle to distinguish between sales training effectiveness and revenue growth. 

If you’ve been in their shoes, you might relate the reasons sales training ROI is difficult to calculate. 

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Challenges of calculating sales training ROI

Here are some specific challenges sales leaders and managers often face in demonstrating the tangible value of sales training investments:

  • Intangible outcomes: Many benefits of sales training, like improved competency or negotiation skills, are hard to quantify regarding immediate revenue increase.
  • Delayed impact: It can take time for new skills acquired through eLearning or a training course to translate into increased sales figures. This makes it difficult to link training to short-term results directly.
  • External factors: Numerous factors like market conditions, competitor activity, and individual performance can influence sales efficiency, making it difficult to isolate the specific impact of training initiatives.
  • Lack of baseline data: Without pre-training data on key performance indicators (KPIs) like conversion rates or average deal size, measuring the actual improvement attributable to the training program is challenging.
  • Short-term focus: Pressure to meet immediate sales targets can lead to overlooking the long-term benefits of training and the return on investment it can provide.
  • Cost-sensitivity: Justifying the cost of training programs to budget-conscious decision-makers requires clear evidence of their financial benefit. 85% of sales leaders say they’re struggling to get a budget for headcount. 

What are key metrics and benchmarks for measuring sales training ROI?

While calculating and interpreting ROI can be challenging, specific metrics and benchmarks can offer valuable insights:

  1. Total revenue generated: This metric measures the total income generated by your sales team after training compared to before.
  2. Average Deal Size: The average value of closed deals after training compared to before. For example, public SaaS companies servicing mid-market have an ACV of about $40k. If you’re in that vertical with lower ACV, you might consider negotiation and upselling training for your reps.  
  3. Win Rate: This metric measures the percentage of sales opportunities converted into closed deals after training compared to before. Effective lead qualification and sales pitch delivery can significantly increase win rate value. 
  4. Conversion Rate: Here, you’re measuring the percentage of leads converted into paying customers after training compared to before. Most SaaS companies see a 25-30% opportunity to sales; a figure considerably lower might signify your sales team needs better sales discovery training and lead qualification techniques. 

The key sales ROI metrics above are tied directly to revenue. You can track the following sales performance to forecast sales training effectiveness:

  • Average time to first deal: Unlike lagging indicators like revenue or win rates, which take time to show results, TTFD provides a quicker indication of how effectively your sales reps apply their newly acquired skills after training. 
  • Average Time to Quota Attainment (ATQA): ATQA measures the overall time it takes for your sales representative to reach their full quota. This provides a broader perspective on the training's impact on their long-term performance and sales efficiency.
  • Overall Team Quota Attainment: Compare OTQA before and after the training program. A significant increase in OTQA following the training suggests that the program equipped the team with the necessary sales skills to achieve higher sales targets, potentially indicating a positive ROI.

9 tips to maximize your sales training ROI

Understanding the key metrics for measuring ROI is crucial, but the real power lies in taking action. The following tips provide a practical roadmap for maximizing sales training ROI. 

1. Establish a Baseline for Your Sales Team

Before implementing any sales training, it's essential to establish a baseline to accurately measure the program's ROI.

 This involves tracking key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to your goals, such as conversion rates and average deal size. 

Accurate data collection and analysis are crucial at this stage, ensuring that any improvements in performance can be directly attributed to the training. 

To do this, sales leaders should utilize CRM systems and standardized reporting formats, which facilitate consistent data collection and allow for effective ROI calculation.

Here's how to establish a solid baseline:

  • Define the timeframe: Choose an appropriate timeframe for collecting pre-training data. This could be the previous month, quarter, or even a specific sales cycle length.
  • Ensure accurate data collection: Standardize data collection practices across the team to ensure consistent and reliable data. This allows for accurate comparisons between pre-training and post-training performance.
  • Analyze historical data: If you have access to historical data, leverage it to establish a stronger baseline. Analyzing trends over a longer period can reveal seasonal variations or other factors impacting performance, giving you a more comprehensive understanding of your team's performance.

2. Divide onboarding into focused segments

Think about this, 84% of salespeople forget information within three months and 47% leave due to poor onboarding. This highlights the critical challenge of knowledge retention in sales teams. 

Yet, sales leaders often try to cover too much ground in onboarding, overwhelming new reps with numerous action items. This leads to content overload and distraction– which limits a rep’s ability to perform as expected. 

By breaking down onboarding into smaller, achievable segments focusing on specific skills or knowledge areas, you allow new hires to process and retain information more effectively. This reduces cognitive overload and fosters deeper learning.

3. Use peer learning in internal sales training 

While traditional top-down training has its merits, integrating peer learning within your sales team can significantly enhance the effectiveness and ROI of your training programs. Here's why:

  • Building trust and credibility: While senior leaders have their place, established salespeople often find training delivered by top performers within the team more credible and trustworthy. 
  • Enhancing relevance and application: Peers who have successfully applied the skills being taught can provide real-world scenarios, relatable anecdotes, and practical examples. This increases the perceived relevance of the training and helps participants visualize how to apply learnings to their daily activities. 
  • Boosting engagement and motivation: Learning from successful peers can be highly motivating and inspiring for new or underperforming salespeople. It demonstrates the attainability of success within the company and fosters a culture of knowledge-sharing and collaboration. 
  • Complementing individual coaching: While managers play a crucial role in coaching, one-on-one sessions can be infrequent due to time constraints and diverse responsibilities. Peer-to-peer training can bridge this gap by providing additional learning opportunities and support. 

4. Involve sales enablement in sales training and talent management

Effective sales training is essential for building a high-performing sales force, but maximizing your return on investment (ROI) requires a comprehensive approach. This is where integrating sales enablement throughout the entire process plays a critical role.

Sales enablement goes beyond simply delivering training. It encompasses providing ongoing support, resources, and tools to ensure salespeople can effectively apply their newly acquired skills and knowledge. This can include:

  • Curating relevant and up-to-date training content.
  • Developing engaging learning experiences that cater to different learning styles.
  • Providing ongoing coaching and mentorship to reinforce new behaviors.
  • Creating and maintaining a comprehensive knowledge base for easy access to information.

5. Consider adding productivity-oriented sales training metrics and KPIs

Don't abandon established sales metrics like revenue generated or quota attainment. Instead, complement them with KPIs that specifically measure improved efficiency and productivity within your sales team. Here are some examples:

  • Average Call Duration: A shorter average call duration, while maintaining quality conversations, suggests salespeople are honing their communication skills and focusing on key information.
  • Lead Conversion Rate: An increase in lead conversion rate indicates salespeople are better at qualifying leads and targeting those most likely to convert.
  • Sales Cycle Time: A shortened sales cycle time suggests salespeople are navigating the sales process more efficiently, potentially due to improved qualification, communication, or negotiation skills.
  • Number of Calls Completed Per Day: This KPI can be a double-edged sword. While a high number of calls might seem positive, ensure quality isn't sacrificed for quantity. Use this metric alongside others to evaluate overall efficiency.
  • Email Response Rate and Time: Track how quickly and effectively salespeople respond to emails, indicating responsiveness and prioritization skills.

By monitoring these productivity-focused KPIs alongside traditional sales metrics, you gain a more comprehensive picture of the impact of your sales training. These KPIs can also be used to incentivize desirable behaviors, encouraging your team to optimize their time and effort for maximum results.

6. Close skill-driven gaps with specialized training

Low quota attainment is a growing concern for sales teams, and the culprit often lies in a critical skill gap. The sales landscape has dramatically transformed in recent years due to a series of events that led to an economic downturn. As a result, the buying process is longer, more complex, and involves more stakeholders. 

Today's successful salespeople need a fresh set of skills that were practically non-existent five years ago.

What are these new deal-closing skills? 

  • Writing a compelling business case.
  • Selling to CFOs.
  • Building a league of champions.

If your sales training program doesn't address these emerging skillsets, you're missing a golden opportunity to transform your sales force into a high-performing conversion engine that unlocks the true ROI of your training investment.

How to Write Business Cases That Close Seven Figure Deals In Sales

7. Avoid generalizing sales training needs

A one-size-fits-all training approach triggered by a few underperforming reps can be a costly mistake. When you focus solely on a couple of underperformers, you’re ignoring the unique needs and strengths of the majority. This can lead to irrelevant training that fails to address the core issues impacting overall sales performance.

Here’s what to do instead:

  • Targeted Needs Assessment: Conduct a thorough needs assessment to identify the specific skill gaps of your team. Utilize data, performance metrics, and individual feedback to understand the common challenges faced by the majority.
  • Tailored Training Programs: Develop targeted training programs that address the identified skill gaps. This might involve creating different training modules for representatives at different performance levels.
  • Upskilling, Not Remediation: Don't fall into the trap of "managing down" to the lowest performers. Instead, focus on upskilling the majority to optimize overall team performance. For underperformers, consider individual coaching or mentoring to address their specific deficiencies.

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8. Use a variety of training methods to cater to different learning styles

To cater to different learners, incorporating a variety of training methods is vital. 

This approach ensures that every sales rep, regardless of their preferred learning style, can effectively absorb the training material.

Traditional instructor-led training (ILT) sessions, e-learning modules, and interactive scenario-based training can all play a crucial role. 

Each method offers unique benefits, from personalized feedback in ILT sessions to the flexibility of e-learning, which is particularly relevant for online sales.

Including webinars as part of your training strategy can also provide a versatile and engaging learning experience for participants.

Examples of Training Methods:

  • Instructor-Led Training (ILT): Traditional classroom sessions offer the opportunity for interactive learning, live Q&A, and personalized feedback.
  • E-Learning Modules: Online courses provide flexibility and self-paced learning. They can include interactive elements, simulations, and gamification to enhance engagement.
  • Scenario-Based Training: Putting theory into practice through role-playing, case studies, and simulations allows reps to hone their communication, negotiation, and problem-solving skills in a safe environment.
  • Mentorship and Coaching: Pairing experienced salespeople with newer reps offers valuable one-on-one guidance, real-world insights, and ongoing support.

9. Provide post-training support and coaching for reinforcement

The human brain has a well-documented tendency to forget information, with studies indicating salespeople can lose up to 84% of what they learn within just three months.  

Furthermore, transforming new knowledge into habitual behaviors takes time. Research suggests it takes around six months for new sales behaviors to become ingrained and years to become second nature.

Investing in post-training support and coaching can help improve knowledge retention, enhance skill development and guarantee long-term performance gain. 

At Pclub, we host a special bi-weekly expert series where you and your sales team get to troubleshoot your unique challenges with experts. 

Here are more ways you can offer continuous support:

  • Create microlearning modules: Develop bite-sized, online learning modules that revisit crucial training points. These can be delivered via email or a dedicated learning management system (LMS) and can be completed in short bursts.
  • Organize quarterly refresher sessions: Conduct periodic refresher sessions to revisit key training content and address any emerging questions or challenges. This helps combat the forgetting curve and ensures information stays fresh in the minds of your sales force.
  • Peer coaching groups: Encourage peer-to-peer coaching groups where salespeople can share experiences, provide constructive feedback, and hold each other accountable for applying learned skills in the field.

Sales Training ROI FAQs

What is a good ROI for a training program?

The ROI for sales training stands at 353%. That means, that for every dollar a company invests in sales training, it receives about $3.53 back.  A figure around or above this benchmark is considered a good sales training ROI. 

How much does sales training cost?

The cost of sales training varies among organizations due to diverse needs. Companies currently spend up to 1 trillion on sales training yearly.

How do you ensure ROI on training?

To ensure ROI on sales training, set a baseline before the training and track all the leading and lagging indicators as you go on. 

What does good sales training look like?

Good sales training provides practical, relevant and hands-on knowledge that sales professionals can start using to improve their productivity. 

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