5 Key Factors to Calculate the Cost of Sales Training

30 Jan 20

What is the true cost of sales training? The answer can vary, but we've compiled 5 common factors you should take into consideration.

I’m often asked by prospective clients, “what does good sales training cost?”. Although, the correct and straightforward answer to this question is, “it depends,” I wanted to share the following five key factors that impact sales training costs.

#1 Pre-Training Consultation:

At a minimum, pre-training consultation typically involves intake interviews with key stakeholders to clearly understand the business goals and define the specific behaviors that need to change and/or improve as a result of the sales training.  Unfortunately, many training programs miss the mark either because (i) the objectives were not clearly defined or (ii) the solution was not a good fit relative to the objectives.

For more complex training initiatives, pre-training consultation may also include reviewing existing or complementary programs, riding alongs with top-performing sales representatives, intake interviews with customers, and assessments to define skill gaps.

#2 Training Curriculum:

Training materials are typically priced based on a license fee “per participant.” As the number of participants increases, there may be opportunities to reduce the “per participant” fee through volume-based licensing programs.

The quality of the training materials also impacts pricing. At a minimum, it is essential to assess quality by reviewing the skill models, application exercises, the participant workbook, application tools, and job aids.

#3 Customization:

As a starting point, it is essential to ensure that the training curriculum aligns with the training objectives. An “off the shelf” program, however, is likely to meet resistance from training participants if it is not seen as applicable to their business and industry.  At a minimum, examples and role-plays need to be custom tailored for relevancy. 

In some situations, however, sales organizations are looking for a higher level of customization that includes terminology, branding, graphics, and the addition of new or modified content. Customization is expensive, so it is essential to determine how much customization is truly necessary to achieve the training objectives. 

#4 Method of Delivery

There are three primary methods of sales training delivery and reinforcement. 

  1. Onsite instructor-led training (ILT)
  2. Virtual instructor-led training (VILT)
  3. OnDemand eLearning or videos (OnDemand)

Historically, these areas were thought of as independent methods of instruction, with ILT being the most expensive and eLearning being the least costly. That said, the best training programs now leverage technology and incorporate all of the above methods to create a holistic learning experience for participants. As an example, a well-designed training program could include ILT training for the initial onsite workshop, VILT for small group reinforcement cohort sessions, and OnDemand micro-learning videos for ongoing performance support.

For decentralized sales teams, travel costs are a significant consideration.  As a result, many organizations choose to conduct onsite training in conjunction with events where the sales team is already being brought together (e.g., quarterly meetings, annual sales kickoff…).

#5 Leveraging In-House Resources:

Another critical dependency is how much of this work will be outsourced to a third-party training partner. In many cases, it may make sense for larger organizations to consider program licenses and train-the-trainer programs so they can deliver and/or reinforce the training using in-house resources.

Don’t Forget about Value: While each of the above factors can impact costs, the overriding consideration is the value of the solution. After all, training requires a significant time commitment from participants and the true measure of success is the value the training creates for your sales organization. Keep in mind that the most successful sales training programs share the common elements:

  • Engagement and support from key stakeholders
  • Well defined training objectives
  • The curriculum aligns with the objectives
  • Customization for relevancy
  • Reinforcement plan focused on skills application and adoption
  • Ongoing sales coaching from sales managers

One final thought is to remember that training initiatives are typically not “all or nothing.” It is, therefore, essential to think through who will benefit most from the training (i.e., highest ROI) and prioritize the implementation such that you can drive incremental wins that lead to overall team success.


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