Top 10 Training Metrics

Is it time for you to measure the effectiveness of your training programs? If you’re not sure where to start, these Top Ten Training Metrics can help.

Measuring the effectiveness of training is a very difficult task, for stakeholders, training departments and end users. If you are a training manager or company stakeholder looking for ways to measure the effectiveness of your programs, these ten metrics are a great place to start.

One: Increased retention. Most Human Resources departments measure the rate of retention in all or various jobs. Many times, the front line, high turnover jobs are the ones that receive the most attention. If newly trained employees feel ill-equipped for the job, they are more likely to leave within their first 90 days. When you measure training success this way, higher retention points to a successful training program.

Two: Increased sales. Many organizations can track efficiency based on sales. If training is heavily geared toward a sales or customer service force, an effective program will eventually increase sales numbers. You can also measure product knowledge training as part of a sales number – poorly educated sales people usually do not make the sale. Dollar figures and unit sales make good metrics, but be sure to balance any metric with other factors that can influence sales numbers.

Three: Increased operational efficiency. In highly regulated or production-oriented businesses, managers look for more efficiency, which raises the bottom line. If your training programs teach skills, look to management’s efficiency metrics, as a baseline, before and after the training intervention. If you are building a new program or product, look at the efficiency numbers to obtain direction on training course content.

Four: Customer service results. Any organization can link training to customer service, which can be both internal and external. Customer service is also one of the easier place to start: one well-written survey can identify a host of customer related issues that can be addressed by training programs. Remember that training may not be the only solution to those issues. If your organization already has a customer survey in place, use those metrics to cross check your programs. When your programs impact the survey items, you can correlate an increase in customer satisfaction back to training.

Five: Company-defined scorecards. Training outsourcers tend to use client-defined criteria to determine training effectiveness. If your organization has a wide variety of possible measurements, sit down with management, and stakeholders, to create a custom scorecard based on expectations and the training programs that need to be in place.

Six: Cost of training. This is an internal training department measurement. In high turnover organizations, lowering cost per student can be used as an effectiveness measurement. Cost of training could also relate directly back to retention – if you’re spending less on new hire training, your retention may be higher. Work with your stakeholders and the HR department to determine training costs and where you want those numbers to be.

Seven: Return on Investment. ROI has long been a “catch all” metric. In some cases, it’s easy to define ROI, but in more cases it’s increasingly difficult. If you deliver soft skills training, it’s hard to put a dollar figure on the return. There are numerous ROI calculations available, so if you’re thinking about using an ROI metric, look for the formulas and plug in what you can. If you are part of a numbers-driven organization, you’ll be able to make friends with the stakeholders by defining and measuring concrete ROI.

Eight: Revenue generation. This metric appears most likely as a combination of sales numbers, operational efficiency, and customer service. If an organization shows increased revenue, a solid training program can be part of that increase. If your organization is rolling out a new revenue generator, such as a product or service, that is generally the best time to use revenue generation as training metric.

Nine: Instructor performance. Instructor evaluation is an important internal measurement. The results can come from student and manager evaluations, and must take into account the instructor’s presentation skills, knowledge of the subject, projection of organizational values, and adherence to instructional guidelines. The good part about instructor performance as a metric is that it can also be used as an external measure. When training is under discussion, training managers should be the first to praise their instructors for delivering quality instruction in every course – and instructor evaluations provide the supporting evidence.

Ten: End-user satisfaction. Your audience can measure effectiveness quicker than anyone else, both immediately following training and after a given time period, such as 30 or 60 days. The immediate results, sometimes referred to as “smile sheets”, can give you a picture of what happened in the classroom. The delayed results can tell you if the material is useful or not. Plus, end-user surveys are great tools for proving effectiveness with management.

Remember that training metrics may take time to put into place and show results. It’s also important to obtain buy-in from your stakeholders while you’re determining how to measure results. Use these metrics to start with – and use them whenever you’re developing or revamping training programs. Once you can prove bottom-line effectiveness, your credibility will go a long way.

Fixed Training Costs Vs Variable Training Costs

The current economic client makes it difficult for training departments to obtain any extra funds, much less normal operating funds. Many times departments must “make do” with the budget they’ve been handed. But once you have a budget, no matter how large or how small, you should have an idea of what costs are fixed and what costs are variable.

Fixed training costs are simply the ones you can count on at any point. You’ll budget for these costs and be able to rely on the fact that they will most likely stay the same. For example, the salaries of the training staff are relatively fixed. When you work on your budget, for whatever time period, you know if you’ll be able to add staff, which we will discuss in a moment. You’ll also know how much to budget for increases based on the average from the last year. But altogether, you’ll be able to count on salary as a fixed item.

The equipment you use routinely for training is also a fixed cost. In fact, much of the equipment training departments use is bought and paid for at one time. These items are every day use items such as copiers, computers, laptops, overhead projectors, LCD’s, screens, automatic whiteboards, and any other equipment that is routinely used in the classroom or in the administrative office. But don’t forget that you’ll need to fix the cost of the upkeep on these items. Light bulbs for overheads and LCD’s are fairly expensive, and must be replaced with an item that is approved by the manufacturer. One way to fix these costs is to know how long these items last and plan for their replacements accordingly. One of the biggest shocks to a training budget is when all of the LCD’s burn out at one time, leading to an expense item that can add up to thousands of dollars.

Overhead is also a fixed expense. As a training manager, you know how much it costs to maintain your location or locations. These costs include the rent or mortgage payment, the expenses that accompany the locations, such as office supplies and paper, and also any income that comes in from other departments or companies renting space in an owned building. You can also include utility costs as fixed overhead, but be careful when the weather becomes extremely hot or extremely cold – one way to do this is to ensure that engineering installs timed thermostats. Many organizations waste overhead money heating and cooling spaces that are empty overnight or over a weekend, so the training department can continue to prove its worth by turning off the utilities when they are not in use.

Finally, fixed or planned programs are also fixed costs. For example, if you know how many people will be in leadership development over the budget period, you can plan for the materials and outsourcing costs right away. The best thing to do with planned programs is stick to them unless changes become absolutely necessary.

On the other side of the budget, variable costs are the ones you’ll need to plan for more carefully. Do you pay usage fees for bandwidth or online courses based on the number of users? If so, this is a variable cost. You can look at average usage from the previous year, or you can simply purchase an advanced number of users for online courses in order to manage this cost. But don’t end up in the position of turning people away.

Your materials costs can also be variable. Think about which programs are not “fixed”, such as new hire training. You know what the organization’s turnover is, but can you anticipate large jumps in turnover? You also know the organization’s vision and business plan, so use that to plan your materials cost. One of the best ways to deal with this cost is to purchase materials as needed and plan as you go. There’s nothing worse than ending up with boxes of an outdated manual.

Finally, large variable costs can include mergers, acquisitions, expansions, and reductions. You should have an idea of where the organization is headed as far as mergers or acquisitions – and plan the budget accordingly. But there could be unexpected changes such as reductions or expansions that cause you to have to fork over money for space reconfiguration or additions to staff.

The management of variable items depends in a large part on the kind of budgeting system your organization uses. If budgets are fixed, there is not much leeway. But if budgets are “rolling” budgets or “pro-forma” style budgets, you can manage money a little easier as the variable costs swing from one side to the other. For fixed budgets, the best way to handle variable expenses is to look for ways to pay for them out of fixed costs. When variables come your way, find out how the organizational budget is handled and ask for help from the financial managers.

Now that you know which training costs are fixed and which are variable, you’ll be better prepared to manage the money as issues arise.

Sales and Training – Train Yourself to Use NLP Techniques for Handling Objections

There is no doubt that sales and training are two inseparable processes. With the competitive market environment changing constantly and with the individual needs of customers becoming more specific, you need to learn new sales techniques and methods all the time.

Neuro-linguistic programming, for short NLP, is one of the most recently developed methods for selling. It is based on the principled of covert hypnosis. In its essence, this method is about identifying the desires, emotions, values and beliefs that are specific to the prospect and using them to close sales.

Many large multinationals and smaller businesses rely on NLP sales and training for improving their performance. You can do it as well. Now I will show you a number of effective NLP techniques for overcoming objections.

Before I get to the actual techniques, I want to focus on the basis of NLP sales and training and this is getting the right state of mind for selling.

When it comes to objections, you have to keep one a number of rules in mind. Rule number one is “Objections are not rejection.” You should never assume that just because the prospect customer is making objections he does not want to buy.

Rule number two is “Never take objections personally.” The product does not personify you. The objections are not made to hurt or to insult you. They are simply statements that you can counter, when you are familiar with NLP sales and training.

The third rule is “Never interpret objections yourself.” A statement made by the prospect customer may mean a lot of different things. There might be a number of different reasons behind it.

Instead of making assumptions, the in NLP sales and training, you simply have to ask “why”. What you have to do is find the reasons behind the objection.

Now that you know how to get the right mindset for handling objections, you can readily learn and master the NLP techniques for doing it.

Counter Objections in Advance

Before you begin the sale, you should definitely have an idea about the most likely objections the prospect will make. Identify them and prevent them from being made throughout the sales process. The best method for prevention is to use story telling.

I will show you an example. “X, an owner of a company the same size as your, was concerned with the size of the investment he had to make to use the product. This was because he couldn’t grasp the size of return he would get. Now he is enjoying a Y% return plus a whole lot of other benefits. You certainly want to be in his place, right?”

This approach is really effective in NLP sales and training, as it automatically leaves no room for objections.

Reframe

This is one of the simplest techniques for overcoming objections. You simply have to put give a different context to the objection.

For instance, “The large investment is not the important thing here. The important thing is accomplishing your goals and having high return on investment at the end of the first year.”

Frame the Objection Out

This is a more deeply psychological approach from NLP sales and training. It allows you to get the reason behind the objection and the actual criteria the prospect is using to make it.

By identifying these, you will be able to use other NLP selling methods for countering them.

For instance, you can readily ask a prospect, who objects the price, “Do you see an issue with the value of the product or with your ability to afford it?’

You are framing his words out and getting to the “bottom of things”. In turn, you can take action to explain the value of your product or offer the prospect a way to afford the product.

Use Agreement Frame

Another way to counter objections is to just agree with the prospect. This will virtually complete the thinking pattern that he has in his mind. In turn, you can create another pattern by asking a question.

For instance, “I agree (the price is high). How much do you expect to get from using the product?”

This will automatically make the prospect think about the benefits, including monetary ones, from using the product instead of the price.

You have learned a lot about NLP sales and training. Keep expanding your knowledge to improve your sales further.