The ROI of Sales Training: Getting what you pay for


What is the
ROI of sales training? Like anything else, you get what you pay for.

I’m often asked, “How long does sales training take?” I could reply, “How long does it take to learn to drive a car?” The honest answer would be “not long”, if you just want to pass your driver’s license exam. But if you have aspirations of being a racecar driver superstar, there’s a lot more you need to learn and finesse.

Sales training isn’t effective as a one-off, whether that’s a two-day training or an in-depth, one-on-one program. If you want lasting results, you need to invest in training that keeps your team continually refreshed with knowledge, inspiration, and guidance. They must adapt to changes in the market, the product, and the buyers, so it makes sense that regularly scheduled coaching of your new home sales professionals is a requisite to success.

Here’s the 4-step process for successful sales training: 

  1. Train. 
  2. Practice. 
  3. Assess. 
  4. Repeat.

The Forgetting Curve

Sales training introduces the concepts, while repetition reinforces those concepts, which promotes retention. Information is lost when you don’t apply and practice it. Learners lose about 90% of what they learned within the first month. German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus researched learning and retention. His research enabled him to plot The Forgetting Curve, which shows how memory loss increases over time—and it’s not just a function of age. Practice and testing are critical to maintaining knowledge.

By testing an individual, you spark their memory and strengthen it, reducing the rate of decline in the Forgetting Curve—in other words, increasing memory retention. If you invest in sales training without a long-term plan, don’t expect as strong an ROI as you would reap with ongoing training.

66 days to change a habit

Training is a process that requires a person to be open to change. Behavior doesn’t change after one or two training sessions. These habits have built and strengthened over time so it’s reasonable that making a significant change will take time and effort. Research shows that it takes an average of 66 days to change a habit. Some people are more resistant to change than others, making it even more important to maintain a sales training regimen. It’s faster to take on a bad habit than a good one. You tell yourself it’s ok to eat junk food once in a while and eventually end up with it as a steady part of your diet. Conversely, a tougher challenge, like eating more healthy, is often abandoned in less than a month.

These are the reasons for new home sales training to continue. Now let’s look at the return on investment.

Sales training ROI

There are quantitative and qualitative key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure the ROI of your new home sales training.

  • Higher conversion rate. How have their sales numbers increased since the training? We’re in a vibrant market right now, but you should still see upticks in their conversion rate when a salesperson applies better knowledge and skills.
  • Increase in converting prospects to leads. If you have an online sales program that generates sales prospects, look at how your sales professionals are cultivating those opportunities after training.
  • Shortened sales cycle. Are they converting new home sales more quickly? Can that be attributed to their training?
  • Stronger selling skills. Measure them on the skills they’re specifically receiving in training. If, for example, you’re training them to leverage referrals, are you seeing an increase in their leads and sales as a result of referrals?
  • Improved behavior. It’s difficult to quantify a habit change, but you should pay attention to improvements, like more team collaboration, better communication, and a positive attitude. Be sure to praise them for these less calculable but equally positive changes.

Internal or external sales training?

Is it better to use your sales leaders to train current and incoming sales professionals? Does a professional trainer offer value?

You should be able to combine internal with external coaching. Your sales managers have insight into the company’s history, goals, processes, and personnel. Their team knows the skill level of their manager, so there’s that familiarity.

As much as these reasons can be positives, they also provide justification for hiring an external sales trainer.

  • Company knowledge. The sales managers obviously know the business, but they also bring the same perspective and could keep the team mired in “the way we’ve always done it.”
  • Personnel familiarity. Your sales team has experience with your sales manager. Just like a child is more likely to listen to peers and other adults than their parents, your sales professionals benefit from being trained by someone who is outside their “household”.
  • Manager’s reputation. The familiarity could create individual opinions with the members of your sales team. They might not see the skills they want or need in their manager. That perception will cloud their receptiveness to the training.

The best approach is a hybrid one. Use external sales coaching to introduce new ideas, approaches, and practices. Use internal coaching to reinforce those lessons. Communicate the expectations for sales training and tell the team how you plan to measure the results. 

Training is an investment in your sales professionals. When their needs are met, they’re less likely to move on. Be proactive with training and the return on investment will give you far more than you pay for it.

 

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