Measuring ROI in a Sales Program: A Web-Based Learning Solution

Financial Services Company

Lizette Zuniga


This case study focuses on the ROI of an e-learning sales program. Several aspects of this project warrant sharing it with others. It includes competency modeling, competency assessment, and evaluation components for the sales academy at a large midwestern company in the financial services industry, all while undergoing a large merger integration. The learning group enlisted the assistance of an external consultant to provide consultation for the competency development and evaluation aspects. This study outlines the business need for the intervention, e-learning program, and evaluation plan, including how data were collected and analyzed. It concludes with the results from implementing the e-learning program as well as lessons learned.


A large midwestern company in the financial services industry implemented a revised sales program in its sales academy. There were three drivers for the revised program. First, the learning group identified the knowledge requirements and critical skills for their business and documented key competencies required to move the business forward. Not only did the content of the sales academy need to be revised to match the new competencies, but the time spent in training needed reviewing. Second, the former sales academy consumed three weeks of the new hires' time. A significant impetus for the e-learning version of the sales academy was the need to reduce the amount of time spent in training and get sales associates generating sales earlier in their tenure. Finally, the company was in the process of acquiring a large company and wanted to capitalize on cross-selling its products. This meant that sales associates needed to increase knowledge of all the products and develop new transactions with existing customers.

Two additional considerations were a new product launch and the fact that the call center was undergoing customer service training, which could affect customer satisfaction. An audience analysis confirmed that e-learning was an appropriate medium for the sales associates. The analysis showed that there were 3,000 sales associates scattered throughout the United States and more than 200 other countries. Many of those associates were remote employees. As road warriors, they used laptops with company intranet connections.


The learning group enlisted an external consultant to assist with competency modeling, competency assessment, and evaluation components of this project. Additional outsourcing assistance was obtained to develop web-based training.

The e-learning program was designed to improve the skills in the following seven competencies: general sales skills, technical knowledge of the products, customer focus skills, prospecting, negotiating, managing resistance, and gaining business results. A basic sales skills segment permitted the associates to test their foundational skill level. Refresher content guided the learners through specific competencies before moving into the remaining sales topics.

The assessment provided immediate input on strengths and areas of improvement for each member of the sales team. This information was tracked in a database and triggered an automatic individual development plan to improve skills in the seven competencies. The skill-gap assessment, coupled with the e-learning design, allowed individual sales associates to customize their learning experience. If the sales associate already had strengths in negotiating skills, then the program allowed the learner to bypass negotiating skills and focus on specific areas needing improvement.

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