How to Measure the Value of Professional Sales Training

Any business entity that decides to take on the commitment of training employees for higher levels of skill and achievement would certainly want to know that their training dollars are being well spent.  Calculating your ROI (Return On Investment) properly is not as easy as just adding up how much your profit has increased or decreased as a result of your investment in training.  Discovering whether or not you are getting value for your investment is not that easy to do from a pure accounting point of view. 

Obviously, if there is no noticeable increase in revenues over a specific period of time, it is easy to conclude that the training had no value.  But that may or may not point to any ineffectiveness in the training materials as much as to other factors.

If, however, there is a substantial increase in revenues for the department that was involved in the training, dividing that increase amount to decide the value of the training for each individual participant would be extremely difficult and unreliable without actual predictions of what the follow-up performance expectations should be.  This is known as ROE. (Return On Expectations) and can prove quite reliable when measured on a group or individual basis.

The ROE is a prediction of the trainer or training organizations approach to creating and demonstrating the organizational value of their education program.  It is what a successful training initiative delivers to demonstrate the degree to which the client’s expectations have been satisfied.

For example, to determine the actual ROI of dollars spent on training, a company would need to track how much was invested in the program and the reliability of time and effort spent by employees applying what they learned and putting it into action in their daily work.  In the case of car salespeople, or those training in our Fixed Ops courses, will they master and duplicate their training experience and put it to work in their dealings with customers when their training is completed?  If yes, there is a reasonable expectation of positive results if the training is applicable in the real world.  

I use the term “real world” because there is a vast difference in training someone in a reliable and structured proven sales process and teaching someone how to deliver a sales pitch designed to dazzle someone into a purchase they or may not regret later on when the pizzazz is gone from the moment.

Manager’s Involvement in Accountability 

Sometimes managers resist change and settle for the excuse: “This is the way we have always done it here”.  In my opinion this is the worst reason to do anything.  Regardless of where you are at the current time in your sales success, there is always room for improvement.  The old sales adage: “Do the same thing everyday anyway”, certainly applies when there is proven success from following a specific method.  However, when something is not producing good results, regardless of how long someone has been using that method, expecting a high return or an uptick in their revenues is not reasonable.  It may in fact further any disappointment they may have in themselves, their sales team or their dealership structure. 

It is very common for dealership organizations to rely on the Sales Manager or someone in a management position to handle sales training in house.  Sometimes with green peas, an experienced salesperson may be given the task of showing them the ropes, helping them get started and then turning them loose to see how they do with customers.  This is certainly a way to get status quo results from your new salespeople if that is what you are looking to achieve. 

However, if you are desirous of improving your numbers and increasing your profits above what they are now, professional sales training can be the best investment you can make toward that goal.  The success of that effort will depend upon three primary factors:

  1. The quality of the training materials and the competency of the trainer(s).
  2. Setting clear goals and objectives for what it is you want to accomplish and evaluating the current resources you have available to invest in achieving the improvements you want to see take place in your business.
  3. The commitment on the part of Management to lead from the front in support of the training program and to hold the trainees accountable for putting their new skills to work every time and with every customer. When this is achieved and properly monitored by management, you can expect the results of the ROI to be similar to those predicted by the ROE.

In reality, you can give the best training to someone who has the ability to apply what they are learning, but if they don’t put it into use, it is not the training that has failed but their lack of application.  On the other hand, investing in training for someone who does not have sufficient skills, or a definite desire and commitment to learn new things, has about the same value as throwing water in the ocean. 

Everyone Must Buy-In to the Program

Business structures are changing radically today as technology offers improved efficiency and immediate access to vast amounts of information, bringing it into their business systems through a computer sitting on top of a desk. Leadership and Management methods are evolving as well, and teamwork models are finding a growing acceptance in successful businesses today. 

Company owners, managers and team leaders who see the advantage of investing in furthering the skill levels of their employees are realizing the benefits of such an approach.  If all participants buy into this model of individual and group improvement, everyone reaps the rewards and the business grows.

When everyone is committed to be their best and are willing to put forth the effort required to achieve both self and group improvement, professional training can cause an explosion of growth in the individual and group success of your dealership.  The general work environment and the financial growth of the business and success and achievements of the individuals will grow as well in the process.  As former President John F. Kennedy was fond of saying:  “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

The key to the success of the DLA Sales Training System is based on three simple principles:

  1. A Salespersons first goal is to lower the customers fear and anxiety by eliminating all pressure and manipulation from their sales process. This is the opposite of how most people expect a car salesperson to be and when you do this you catch them Pleasantly off Guard and gain the chance to earn their business.
  2. By being ‘Unique, Different and Inspiring’ to your customers you can distinguish yourself from the competition. The customers will like you and want to deal with you as their salesperson.
  3. Shoppers and buyers are drawn to this kind of business environment and they will spread the word to help grow your business naturally in the best way: by customer referrals.

The fact is that car salespeople generally fall at or near the bottom of the list every year in the Annual Gallup Poll for “Honesty and Ethics in Professions”.  This alone is reason enough to consider continued professional Sales & Motivational training for your staff if you want to raise your dealership above the crowd and distinguish your business as one that gains a reputation with customers worthy of earning their repeat business.

* David Lewis and Associates is the most trusted source for training in every aspect of the retail automotive business.  Visit our website at www.davidlewis.com and see what we have to offer in the way of retail automotive sales education. 

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