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The Sales Training ROI Question: How do you achieve ROI on your sales training investment?

The Sales Training ROI question is a common one. How do you achieve ROI on your sales training investments – especially when there is inconsistency, minimal adoption, and missing connection to value drivers? To address these challenges, an exhaustive search was conducted to determine what drives implementation and adoption. Results showed that 150 companies had “deeply embedded sales training into the DNA of their organization,” with a ratio of end-user to sales training consultants being about 2-1. The top three drivers of implementation and adoption are changing the conversation from training and methodology to strategy execution and ROI.

Senior executives know that, beyond mergers and acquisitions, a company’s growth is driven one deal at a time through the effective sales and negotiations of their direct and indirect salespeople.

That’s why American corporations spend $7.2 billion (1) every year on sales processes, account management skills, negotiation, and opportunity management training. That’s an average of $347,000 per company, according to Selling Power. But beyond proprietary (and perhaps biased) consulting reports and high-level academic papers on change, there’s little information available on whether those that invest money are achieving a return on their investment that’s at least equal to—if not better than—their cost of capital.


When we started researching the ROI challenge, we found others were asking the same question. What follows begins to paint the picture…

  • Inconsistent usage: “…more than half of firms report investing $1500 to $7500 annually per sales rep in training…only a quarter of reps consistently use their company’s accepted methodology more than half the time, only 10% resolutely (greater than 90% of the time).” (2)
  • Minimal Adoption: “Eighty-seven percent of training is lost within one month.” (3)
  • Missing connection to value drivers: “Financial and human resources are precious and constrained assets. We frequently see companies with a slew of goals that have no clear connection to real value drivers and that diffuse or dilute those assets. Organizations use up valuable resources with only modest connection to the highest impact execution priorities.” (4)

In many companies, the sales team is last in line with respect to the adoption and institutionalization of not only effective measurement mechanisms but the basic processes as well. Standards and methods are employed by every other department within a company. Manufacturing has Just-in-time, Lean and the Toyota Production Systems (TPS), Finance has GAAP, and the list goes on. Sales has a lot of catching up to do to be depended upon as a critical enabler of corporate growth strategies.”

We are aware there are many levers management pulls to execute a multi-pronged corporate growth strategy. If benchmarking is one of those levers, then…

  • Sales training, because of its potential use as a growth engine, must be thought about— and measured—differently than other types of training.
  • All sales training is not created equal, and given the demands on managers and salespeople, only those training initiatives that can be directly tied to a corporate growth strategy should be chosen for complete implementation.
  • Finally, because neither aggregating sales stories nor measuring lagging indicators alone provide meaningful data, key leading and lagging indicators must be agreed upon before, and measured after, the implementation of the initiative in order to determine both its success as an enabler of corporate growth and its real ROI.

If you want to dive into CloseStrong’s proven approach to deal negotiation and sales training ROI, read Brian’s book B2B Street Fighting. You can get a free copy of Brian’s book when you register for a demo of CloseStrong – the hardest-working, smartest deal and negotiation coach you’ve ever experienced. CloseStrong will help you multiply the effectiveness of your sales management team, deliver higher-quality deals, reduce discounts, improve pipeline quality, and increase forecast accuracy.

(1) Journal of Personal Selling
(2) CSO Insights “Sales 2.0 Whitepaper”
(3) Sales Executive Council of the Corporate Executive Board
(4) Axiom Consulting Partners, Winning Axiom #2

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