As published on Forbes.com
Though many know me through keynote addresses I deliver at events, I also conduct many workshops that my clients call “Sales Training.” I’ve been asked “How much does sales training cost?” more times than my children have asked “Are we there yet?”
There are many factors that can impact your cost for sales training. For this article, we’ll focus on public vs. private programs, and the often-overlooked hidden costs.
Public vs. Private
A publicly available program will often range from one to two days and cost $500 to $5,000 per participant. The lower cost programs are generally designed to attract large audiences who the organizers can up-sell other offerings. There are some excellent public programs designed to immerse you into a selling system. If you are a small company and lack a selling system, this can be a very cost-effective approach. By their nature, public programs are “one-size-fits-all.”
Private programs, when done properly, create a foundation of principles, and then hold the participant’s hand from concept through how to apply the concept to your business. Private programs can range from $3,500 per day on the low end, to $25,000 per day on the high end (I fall in the middle). As you’d imagine, a more experienced facilitator with a track record of results can demand a higher fee than someone who is new to the field. Sales training from the low bidder is like getting dental work from someone with bad teeth.
Whether public or private, the cost of the facilitator is often just a piece of the puzzle. Let’s say you have 25 reps and planned a retreat (private) in Phoenix for a sales meeting. What costs might you incur for a three-day event? Feel free to adjust the numbers based on your team:
- Airfare – Average of $800 per person
- Hotel – 3 nights @ $200 per night $600
- Meals – 3 days @ $150 per day = $450 (assumes some catered meals at a hotel/resort)
- Labor – Let’s call it $500 per day (assuming $125k/yr) = $1,500
- Transportation – $200 per person across 3 days
- Group Activity – $300 per person
- Cost per person: $3850 per person = $96,250 for 25 people
- Add the Room Rental of $2500 per day for three days = $7500
- Total Potential Investment before a facilitator = $103,750
For a group of 25 people, your cost would be close to $100,000 before you hire someone to facilitate the program.
Why Invest In Sales Training
There is only one reason to invest in sales education for your team: Grow your business. But, how much should you invest? Do not invest more than 2% of your annual sales. So, a $1,000,000 business might not want to invest more than $20,000. Those selling big-ticket items might want to invest more to maintain a competitive edge. If your competition moves forward while you stand still, you just fell behind.
If seeing an average of 5% improvement from your team would not pay for the training, then don’t do it. Though I am thrilled to see clients who have doubled within eighteen months, plan on 5% and be pleasantly surprised when you exceed the numbers. Keep in mind that not every participant will see results.
Wash, Rinse, Repeat
I don’t care how good the facilitator thinks they are, you will waste your money if you do not have a plan for reinforcement in place BEFORE the workshop occurs. I would encourage you to take two steps: 1) Schedule a call 30 days in advance of the workshop to plan for success, and 2) Schedule a call roughly 45 days after the workshop to hold participants accountable and make any adjustments they might need. Those who don’t share experiences or have questions on the 2nd call are probably not doing the work, and are just falling back on old habits. If you don’t have a plan to regularly reinforce and discuss the concepts, then you will have wasted your money. You should be able to do this on your own.
Who Should You Hire
Here are some factors for success.
Get someone who knows your industry. For example, I deliver the best results for companies selling B2B services and/or technology. Get someone who specializes in your industry and has plenty of content available so you can confirm if their philosophy aligns with yours. For example, if a company is not committed to selling with integrity, I know we won’t have a good fit.
Experience Matters – Ideally, the person conducting your workshop will have sold products or services at a similar price-point and to similar customers as you. You can’t fake authenticity. If you could, they’d call it something else.
Mix It Up – Sometimes your team needs to hear a different voice. For my clients who want to bring me in year after year, I often suggest that after two years, they bring someone else for at least one session to give their team a different perspective.
Hopefully this sheds some light on the various factors that impact your cost for sales training, and also gives you guidance to ensure that your investment produces results – for results are all that matter.
It’s Your Turn
Please share your successes and failures with sales education at your company.