Measuring the ROI in Selling skills training

Catherina Opperman 

Nedbank Case Study 

Nedbank is one of the leaders in the industry regarding their strong focus on developing their employees to learn new skills and acquire competencies to operate in a very competitive environment. Millions of Rands are spent annually on training. The question is: “what is the value of the money invested in training?” Measuring the value of the money spent on training is the clearest statement an organisation can make to measure the impact of training and the return on their investment in training.  

Without measuring the return on investment (ROI) in training, how will an organisation know what the benefit is of the investment in training? How will they be able to determine the relationship between training input and employee output? Will they be able to make a clear conclusion regarding the impact of training? 

When measuring ROI, it is possible to answer these questions. If there is a benefit greater than the cost or investment in training, then training is worthwhile.  To draw this conclusion, the benefit of training has to be determined in rand value to be able to measure the return on investment. Many organisations do not measure the return on investment and therefore do not determine the direct relationship between training inputs and bottom line profit and outputs. This is partly due to some of the challenges in measuring the impact of training. These challenges could be a lack of clear objectives of training, the difficulty in obtaining data, and not determining the influence of non-training issues; for example the influence of a peak business season could have an influence on increased sales after employees attended training.  

The good news is that ROI can be determined through a scientific method. ROI is the measure of the monetary benefits obtained by an organisation over a specified period in return for a given investment in a learning programme. In other words, it is the extent to which the benefits (outputs) of training exceed the costs (inputs). 

 
ROI is a key financial metric of the value of training investments and costs.  It is a ratio of net benefits to costs, (investment in training) expressed as a percentage. 

The formula can be expressed as:

 

[(monetary benefits – cost of the training) / cost of the training] x 100

 

ROI (%) = (benefits – costs) x 100
       
------------------------
costs

 

ROI measurement entails the three ‘c’s of ROI; cost, change and calculate, i.e. determine the cost of learning, measure the change in behaviour as a result of learning, and calculate the benefits as a rand value. 

What is Nedbank’s business rationale for their investment in training?

Specific measures are used when measuring ROI to demonstrate the link between training and tangible measures in the form of for example, increased output, fewer errors, improved quality or higher level of customer satisfaction. Positive behaviour as a result of training could be reduced absenteeism or lower staff turnover, or increased sales due to higher motivation.  

Some of the constraints to measure ROI are the difficulty to collect data and the lack of sufficient training records. A business approach to ROI highlights other issues such as the linking of training to the organisation’s strategic objectives. These objectives are indicated amongst others, on the Workplace Skills Plan. Individual performance and the relevant training needs required to achieve strategic objectives should be linked to the Performance Management system of the organisation. One integrated process is then applied to identify individual competencies needed to achieve organisational effectiveness and these competencies are recorded on the individual’s Personal Development Plan. This ensures that learning is integrated into the overall business strategy. 

Nedbank decided to measure the benefits of their 5 Point Plan that focuses on advanced selling skills and techniques. The goal is to equip employees with the necessary skills and knowledge to be able to successfully complete and submit a quality credit application based on the 5 Point Plan which will result in increased approvals in the Small Business Services (SBS) area. Clear objectives were identified before the training intervention that could result in improved outputs. Specific areas that were targeted are the background of SBS clients, the financial position of SBS clients, determining the needs and income of SBS clients, and an understanding of securities when applying credit to SBS clients. 

 

Employees who service SBS clients are responsible for high value portfolio management in the various areas of sales including home loans and vehicle finance. Based on feedback received regarding the value of training and an increase in sales figures after training, it was decided to measure the impact of training for this area.

The impact of training was measured and an ROI was calculated. The results were astounding! The measurement focused on the increased amount of sales due to a clear focus based on the 5 Point Plan in selling skills. Increased sales were due to focusing on the key points that resulted in the conclusion of high quality credit applications. The training costs were factored in; these included facilitation fees, learning material, and meals. Salary costs for the time while attending training were also included as well as loss of income. No fixed costs e.g. floor space was included as this forms part of the overall monthly overhead costs.

The effect of non-training variables that could have an influence on the measurement was factored in. This could be the assumption that the increased number of sales could be as a result of a very intensive marketing campaign during the training period, as well as fluctuation in the interest rates and high motivation due to management support. The ROI figure was adjusted to incorporate the possible influence of these non-training variables. It was estimated that these non-training variables had a thirty one percent influence on performance. The ROI in training was adjusted and yielded 263%!  

From the above measurement it is evident that a clear benefit could be assigned as a result of attending the course on the 5 Point Plan Selling Skills.