Ask any sales training professional and they will tell you that a common question among key sales training stakeholders is “What ROI can we expect from a sales training program?”
The challenges in measuring the effectiveness of sales training for a sales organization are numerous, including defining success metrics. Effective measurement is also complicated by other factors that may influence results such as competitive, economic and market conditions.
To help answer the question as to the value of sales training, we recently sponsored a research report by CSO Insights, The Business Case for Sales Training. This research is based on input CSO Insights received from over 2,000 companies as part of their 2013 Sales Performance Optimization and Sales Management Optimization studies. The results were startling, and demonstrated how high quality sales training programs can clearly produce significant benefits for a sales organization. This study also looked at the positive effects sales managers can have on sales performance when they receive sales coaching training.
In conducting their study, CSO Insights segmented the data based on how sales organizations rated their sakes training programs. CSO Insights found that only 10.7% of the respondents rated their sales training programs as having “exceeded expectations,” while 42.5% just “met expectations.” The largest category was "needed improvement" at and 43.5%.
Here are the five ways a well-designed sales training program can dramatically improve the performance of a sales organization:
#1 More Reps Achieving Quota
The results from companies with sales training programs that "exceeded expectations" showed a 5% increase in sales reps achieving quota as compared to companies whose sales skills training programs just met expectations, and a 9% increase in sales reps achieiving quota as compared to companies whose sales skills training programs “need improvement.
#2 Higher Win Rates
Companies whose sales skills training programs exceeded expectations had significantly higher win rates (54.3%) than companies where training programs met expectations (47.3%) or needed improvement (44%).
#3 Aligning Solutions to Customer Needs
Identifying customer needs and then aligning your solutions to those needs is a foundational selling skill that is highly correlated with sales success. CSO Insights found that companies that had sales training programs that exceeded expectations did better than companies that had training programs that merely met expectations (84.2% vs. 78.8%), and did significantly better than companies that had training programs that need improvement (84.2% vs. 52.8%).
#4 Lower Sales Force Turnover
Another positive factor supporting an investment in sales training is lower sales force turnover rates. Given the time it often takes to get new sales people fully productive, high sales force turnover can have a serious detrimental effect on sales productivity. CSO Insights found that companies with sales training programs that exceeded expectations had the lowest annual sales rep turnover (15.7%); while companies with sales training programs that met expectations had slightly higher turnover rates (18.3%); and finally companies with sales training programs that need improvement had significantly higher turnover rates (25.6%).
#5 Sales Coaching
Given the importance of frontline sales managers in reinforcing sales skills training, it is not surprising that companies with sales coaching skills training programs that exceed expectations had a much higher overall revenue plan attainment than companies whose coaching skills only met expectations (97% vs. 87%) or needed improvement (93% vs. 83%).
While numerous factors can influence the overall effectiveness of any sales training program, the CSO Insights report clearly demonstrates the significant positive impact sales training can have on performance.