Measuring ROI in Sales Training: A Game-Based Program
Claude MacDonald, CRP and Louis Larochelle, CRP
Future-Tel, a national telecom company in Canada, invited TalentPlus, a professional services firm specializing in business development, to develop and deploy a unique simulation-based learning program. The one-day training activity, called The Solution Challenge, was aimed at enhancing the way Future-Tel's 560 sales professionals go about selling solutions to their clients. Specifically, the training program had to enhance three key competencies: 1) the ability to create value through skilled questioning, 2) the ability to qualify major opportunities and decide if they are worth pursuing, and 3) the ability to build strong business proposals.
The program was also aimed at testing, honing, and developing people's knowledge of Future-Tel's solution portfolio, as well as the key vertical markets of their clients. To evaluate the effect and profitability of the project, Future-Tel asked TalentPlus to conduct a Level 5 ROI study. Therefore, data on reaction, learning, application, business impact, and intangible benefits were collected during and after the program. After isolating of the effects and converting the data to monetary value, the ROI study showed that each dollar invested in the program brought back $1.42 in sales revenues for Future-Tel.
Future-Tel is a major Canadian telecommunications company offering a wide variety of IT and telecom solutions to private and public organizations across the country. Future-Tel has also developed industry-leading telecom consulting expertise and has adopted industry recognized assessment tools in order to measure, understand, refine, and fully implement best practices.
Thirty years of experience has enabled Future-Tel to build strong alliances with all major hardware and software manufacturers, including IBM, HP, Cisco, and Microsoft. The company has also forged partnerships with smaller, more specialized IT companies. Those partnerships allow Future-Tel to offer a broad solutions portfolio through its sales force.
After observing a decline in sales results, Future-Tel initiated a major reorganization that led to the creation of a new entity: The Future-Tel Business Market Group. The strategic objective of this new group was to improve operational efficiency and enhance customer intimacy.
As part of the overall strategy to accomplish this goal, Future-Tel decided to enhance the competencies of its sales professionals. In this context it was decided to provide all sales professionals with a Solution Selling Training Program.
A survey was conducted by the sales effectiveness team to understand what Solution Selling meant for Future-Tel's professionals. Most expressed the importance of understanding and meeting the requirements in their specific vertical markets, such as health, government, financial services, retail, and others. The data from this survey allowed the sales effectiveness team to identify the following key learning objectives with regard to the training program:
O Improve teamwork among sales representatives.
O Develop people's business acumen.
O Develop and refine vertical market knowledge.
O Improve knowledge of the Future-Tel solutions portfolio.
O Develop skills to understand the client's business challenges.
O Develop skills regarding the design and delivery of complex solutions.
In light of Future-Tel's requirements and challenges, TalentPlus was chosen to develop a one-day program, called The Solution Challenge Sales Simulator, a gamebased approach that allows acceleration of learning and increases the retention rate of participants. Three hundred twenty-one (321) individuals, including 308 sales professionals, took part in the program.
The learning was structured as follows:
Part 1 (2 hours):
O Vertical forum: most important drivers (four or five) of the vertical market clients evolve in the identification of current projects that focus on such drivers presented by each team.
Part 2 (5.5 hours):
O The Solution Challenge sales simulator, as shown in Figure 8-1.
Figure 8-1. The Solution Challenge Sales Simulator