4 min read

Measuring Return on Expectations Key to Achieving Sales Training ROI

A common question we often hear from staffing industry executives is, "how do you measure the effectiveness of your sales and recruiter enablement programs measuring return on expectations key to achieving sales training ROI in terms of return-on-investment?" Here is what we tell them.

You have to start the process well in advance of actually developing training content and enrolling sales reps and recruiters in your training.  We have found it to be pretty much impossible to track and measure sales training return-on-investment in retrospect.

We also tell them that some training might not always be measurable from an ROI standpoint. But, what is measurable, and what most fail to do, is track and measure whether or not the sales reps and/or recruiters are actually doing what they were trained to do.  In the L&D (learning and development) world, this is referred to as "Return-on- Expectations."  Assuming that your sales reps are applying what they learned in sales training, you can measure whether or not what they are doing is producing better results then the way they were doing things prior to training. And this can all be done by applying the same sales metrics that you already have in place. You don't have to invent anything new.  You just have to track and measure whether or not your sales reps are applying what they learned in sales training.

Related: Measuring Return on Expectations with the Kirkpatrick Model

You can then measure the value of those results against your investment. For example, if you invested $50K in sales training and you only saw $25k in new sales as a result of sales reps applying what they learned, you are out $25K.  You've failed to realize a return on your investment.

That being said, here is how and why measuring return-on-expectations is key to achieving sales training ROI. Keep these tips and best practices in mind as you develop your training services.

Does Your Sales Training Have Real World Application?

Whether your teaching your sales team a new approach to sales prospecting, a new methodology for objection handling or introducing a buyer aligned sales process, you (the sales leader and/or L&D leader) must know that what you are training your salespeople to do, ACTUALLY WORKS in real life.  I stress “real life” because far too often, something that logically seems like it should work, doesn't work. For example, I've seen clients try to implement The Challenger selling model and SPIN Selling (among others) over the years. Great books with awesome ideas!  They've been proven to work by thousands of companies over multiple decades.  Logical thinking goes "why wouldn't it work for my sales team in my company?"  The truth is, there a million reasons for why it might not work in your organization. 

We often see customers experience unexpected results in these situations.  It is critical that you closely monitor, track and measure what your salespeople are doing and what impact their activities and messaging is having on their sales results. Simply imparting knowledge and assuming your reps are applying the knowledge is not going to get you your desired results. And while your training may be awesome (it probably is), don't assume it will work. Typically you have to iterate a few times. So get into the weeds and make sure your sales training has real world application. Get feedback from your reps and customers and iterate accordingly.

Speaking of getting into the weeds....

Get Into the Weeds and Nitty-Gritty Details

When you design and develop sales training, or engage a third party in sales training or recruiter training, you need to get into the weeds and understand exactly what it is you're sales reps and recruiters are being taught to say and do. And, you need to understand what they are being taught to say and do for each stage of the sales process and recruiting process.  Most importantly, if your sales training and recruiter training doesn’t explicitly teach your recruiters and sales reps what to do when they get back to their desks, it is unlikely that they will apply what they learned. Knowledge without application has no value.  If you don't track and measure return-on-expectations, you will never realize the coveted return-on-investment or ROI.

Know Your Baseline Data
Before launching your sales training or recruiter training, you’ll need to be clear about what specific results you’re looking to achieve and how your training will impact the business, and how you’re going to track and measure it. 
The key to figuring out sales training ROI is to link it to measurable and quantifiable results.   Learner feedback surveys and course completion metrics are not enough. What you’re looking for are metrics that show an improvement in your sales team’s effectiveness and performance. To begin building your business case for demonstrating ROI, you need to identify how effectively your sales team is currently (and historically) performing.  This means you need to collect some baseline data. Consider the following data points:

  • Average deal size
  • Average time to first deal (placement)
  • Average time to quota attainment
  • Conversion rates (first connect to meeting conversion as one example)

Collaborate to Get Buy-In From Your Leaders, Sales Reps & Recruiters 

As I mentioned in my post, Formalized Collaboration is Key for L&D Leaders for gaining buy-in from executives, sales and recruiting managers and employees. You need to stack your training implementation strategy in your favor to ensure you achieve a return-on- expectations by enlisting the support of your sales manager, recruiting manager and executive leadership team.  Sales managers need to see the value of the training and know that their sales reps have an immediate opportunity to apply what they learned and make an impact.  Sales reps need to know that their managers will coach them to the training and hold them accountable to applying what they learned. 

To achieve this you need to "remove the noise." By noise, I mean anything that blocks or deters your sales reps from applying what they learned.  Common examples of this include:

  • Compensation (the wrong commission plan structure can encourage the wrong behaviors)
  • Competing priorities
  • Conflicting or confusing messaging ("too many chefs in the kitchen")
To learn more about measuring return-on-expectations and achieving sales training ROI, download our eBook, The Definitive Guide to Tracking and Measuring Sales Training ROI

the definitive guide to tracking and measuring sales training roi

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