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Insights

The Business Case for Sales Training

Tuesday, February 4, 2014
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Any sales training professional 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, excluding other factors that may influence results such as competitive, economic, and market conditions. 

A recent research report by CSO Insights, The Business Case for Sales Training, addresses the question as to the value of sales training. This research is based on input CSO Insights received from more than 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 sales training programs. CSO Insights found that only 10.7 percent of the respondents rated their sales training programs as having “exceeded expectations,” 42.5 percent “met expectations,” and 43.5 percent “needed improvement.”

Here are a few highlights from the report that illustrate how a well-designed sales training program can dramatically improve performance.

  • More reps achieving quota. Companies that have sales training programs that exceeded expectations reported having 5 percent more of their sales reps achieving quota than companies whose sales skills training programs “met expectations,” and  9 percent more of their sales reps achieving quota than companies whose sales skills training programs “need improvement.”
  • Higher win rates. Companies whose sales skills training programs exceeded expectations had significantly higher win rates (54.3 percent) than companies where training programs met expectations (47.3 percent) or needed improvement (44 percent).
  • 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 percent vs. 78.8 percent), and significantly better than companies that had training programs that need improvement (84.2 percent vs. 52.8 percent). 
  • 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 percent); while companies with sales training programs that met expectations had slightly higher turnover rates (18.3 percent). Finally companies with sales training programs that need improvement had significantly higher turnover rates (25.6 percent).

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  • Sales coaching. Given the importance frontline sales managers often have 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 percent vs. 87 percent) or “needed improvement” (93 percent vs. 83 percent).

    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.

    In our next blog, we will discuss five factors that will help develop and implement an effective sales training program that will “exceed expectations.”

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About the Author

Norman Behar is chairman and managing director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.

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