More companies are turning to virtual or e-learning programs in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Taking your sales team away from their core job—selling—is sure to reduce productivity and affect your company’s bottom line, so e-learning is a way to provide training without affecting daily operations. However, you need to assess the true costs of e-learning before you can calculate online sales training ROI.
Calculating savings from online training costs is relatively simple. For any organization, there are obvious benefits to using online sales training:
- It’s less disruptive. Online training using an e-learning model is self-driven, which means you log in to do the training whenever you want. This means little or no time taken away from the workday, so it doesn’t disrupt the daily routine.
- It reduces travel costs. There is no need to leave the office to attend off-site training.
- It eliminates staffing costs. While you may have online training sessions that use live trainers, most e-learning packages use an automated platform and pre-recorded content, so there are no instructor fees.
For the online sales trainee, there are benefits as well:
- Better comprehension. A well-designed online sales training program provides an immersive experience, which means deeper comprehension. The ability to review a challenging lesson or to pause the instruction for a few moments to process a tricky concept, coupled with questions at the end of each lesson to check for understanding, means that learners finish each lesson with a better grasp on what was taught.
- More efficient training. Online training allows the learner to progress through the material when they are most ready to learn and at their own pace, which promotes better information retention.
- Shorter training time. Most adult learners take less time with online courses than they do with classroom instruction; it’s just more efficient.
Measuring Online Sales Training ROI
Measuring the impact of online sales training itself requires a predetermined set of criteria. Many training organizations use Kirkpatrick’s Four-level Training Evaluation Model to assess the effectiveness of online sales training programs. This model measures:
- Reaction: how the sales reps react to training (e.g., how well the training was received and whether it was perceived to be a positive experience).
- Learning: how much knowledge has increased against pre-established objectives. You should inventory the lessons you want to teach and determine where online training may have gaps in instruction.
- Behavior: how the training is applied in practice. However, lessons cannot be applied in a vacuum. The selling environment has to be structured to accommodate positive behavioral change. Management needs to be ready to help the sales team apply new skills and methods from their training.
- Results: how to analyze outcomes to assess training success. This requires establishing metrics before providing sales training and then looking for positive change using those same metrics after the training.
To these four metrics we can add ROI as a fifth: turning results into monetary value. The simplest way to measure ROI is to consider the cost of sales training versus the returns. For example, you establish a baseline of sales performance before training, see how much performance increases after training, and determine if the profit earned on the additional revenue is more than the cost of training. If the profit earned on that incremental sales revenue is more than the training costs, you have a positive ROI.
Of course, that is a very basic ROI measurement. You should also use metrics that are relevant to your operation to establish a baseline. Use input from management observation, self-assessment, skills assessment (i.e., process), and competency (i.e., execution) to create a baseline for sales performance. Set training objectives that are specific and measurable, and watch for positive changes against the baseline following online training.
No matter what kind of training you use for your sales team, its value is much less meaningful without measurement. Granted, online sales training is more efficient and more cost-effective, but even if it’s less expensive than classroom or one-to-one training, it’s a waste of time and money if it fails to yield the desired results. Understand the metrics you want to use to measure ROI in advance, and then see if online sales training will move the needle in the right direction. With the right metrics and planning, you will find online sales training can be a time-efficient and cost-effective tool that helps your organization meet and exceed its goals.