How to Unlock Your Company’s Employee Development Budget

It takes people to drive profits. The smarter your employees are, the higher level of profits your company will achieve. This reality pervades any market and triggers fierce competition especially among high-performing businesses to find, develop and retain top talent. Because forward-thinking organizations recognize the importance of employee development, their growth strategies always include ample budgets to fuel their learning and development (L&D) programs.

A mind-opening study by LinkedIn Learning Solutions found this incredible stat:

Nearly 70% of L&D professionals believe talent is the number one priority in their organizations, with 27% expecting employee development budgets to increase in 2017.

How Much Are Companies Really Spending On Employee Development Training?

On average, large companies (10,000+ employees) spend $13 million per year on employee training while mid-size (1000-9999) and small (under 1000) businesses allocate respective annual employee development budgets of $3.7 million and $290,000, according to Brandon Hall Group, a human capital management services company.

And because sales receipts help pay the bills and keep companies running, organizations spend an average of $954,070 on sales training every year, according to ATD research.

Employee development programs help keep sales professionals sharp and adequately skilled to solve emerging challenges and transform opportunities into closed deals faster, more efficiently, and with greater impact.

However, even as businesses set budgets for employee development, training doesn’t always come automatically for everyone. In many cases, employees have to volunteer, request or establish sound justification for inclusion in specific employee learning and development programs.

How Sales Pros Can Convince Their Boss To Get Them Into a Training Program

In his aptly titled article on Forbes, Deloitte’s Josh Bersin explored how the learning curve defines a person’s earning potential.

Quoting the multi-awarded French economist Thomas Picketty, Bersin identified “skills and knowledge” as the only predictable factor that influences how high an individual’s earnings can go.

This factor provides a two-pronged boost. A significant improvement in skills and knowledge not only upgrades an employee’s earning potential. It also delivers a corresponding ROI for the company who stands to benefit from a skilled employee’s higher productivity and better performance.

With sales teams serving as the main profit-generating arm of any business, it’s no wonder employee development programs focusing on sales competencies and sales skills are sprouting like mushrooms everywhere.

Some are training programs developed in-house while others are designed and offered by third-party providers.

Many are run-of-the-mill affairs, but some — such as those offered by Sandler Training and Vantage Point — are excellent career investments, with fees ranging from a few hundred to several thousand dollars.

Meanwhile, newer players like GoSkills also offer valuable but more affordable employee development courses.

Here are some steps to get you closer to the employment development goals you’re aiming for:


1. Demonstrate Your Desire To Learn

Begin by researching your company’s guideline on employee development and training. Inquire if there are internal workshops or other in-house resources available and get involved in relevant offerings. Check if there’s a budget for third-party courses. Identify courses that will generate the best value for you as well as the company. Be informed about the course details, especially those factors (pricing, certification, provider brand, etc.) that will help persuade your boss to let you participate.

2. Prove That You’re An Employee Whose Actually Worthy Of Enhanced Training

There are many people in the team. Why would your boss select you for training instead of another? Provide a definite answer to this question by being the most worthy candidate. In addition to researching about policies and available courses, be ready to confidently answer all questions about your professional development goals and the courses you intend to attend.

3. Articulate The Benefits Of Your Desired Sales Training And It’s Impact On Your Professional Development

Discuss improvements in motivation, productivity, performance and leadership skills. Present scenarios wherein the skills you expect to learn will help solve complex challenges at work.

4. Discuss The Benefits Of The Employee Development Program To Your Colleagues

Provide reasonable figures to simulate your expected ROI, following improvements in productivity and performance. Offer to teach other members of the team whatever you learned from the course so that a multiplier effect applies to the benefits. Whenever possible, explain the cost of lost opportunity if your boss withheld your participation in the training or employee development program.

5. Send A Formal Request Letter

Nothing says you mean business more than expressing it through a formal letter. Make a solid pitch by summarizing applicable points in the foregoing items. In a clear and compelling way, justify the cost of participation vs. the ROI for the company. Make concrete and reasonable forecasts on which metrics will be improved when you complete a specific training program.

Request Letter Template: Convincing Your Boss That Your Employee Development Will Not Be In Vain

Here’s a sample letter you can use as reference to persuade your manager to allow you to join a specific sales training course. You may chose to present it as a memo for formality.

TO: [name of your manager]

FROM: [your name]

DATE: [make sure to make your request well in advance of the course or training date]

SUBJECT: [example: Enrollment in course title]

I sincerely request your approval to join Sales Hacker University’s [course title] course. I am certain this course will help me learn new skills and improve my performance in the following areas:

  1. Area A
  2. Area B
  3. Area C

I seek to take advantage of this opportunity not only to upgrade my professional credentials but also to directly benefit the company by delivering

1) significant improvements on [specific metrics] and

2) sharing whatever I’ve learned with the team via presentations and one-to-one mentorship. I believe this will have a multiplier effect on the benefits slated for the company.

The course covers emerging fields and strategies such as

[example: data-driven selling techniques, etc] that will likely help us achieve new targets, increase efficiencies and revitalize our pipeline.

The course series costs [$ cost] which is a pittance considering the value it can generate for the company. Moreover, most of the offerings at {DESIRED TRAINING COURSE} can be taken on the go and at any time, which allows me to learn (during my free time) without pulling back on any of my current responsibilities.

Based on reviews, brand recognition, and demonstrable outcomes, I am certain that enrolling in the course will be a wise investment for the team.

The course also aligns well with the roadmap HR follows for its employee development goals. More importantly, it presents an opportunity for me to act on your fervent advice regarding continuous self-improvement.

Looking forward to your reply. 


Employee who wants to learn. 

Max Altschuler is currently the VP of Sales Engagement at Outreach. He is as passionate about the sales profession as they come. He created the premier B2B Sales media company for all things sales innovation, Sales Hacker, and ramped them up to over 150,000 monthly visitors before joining Outreach through acquisition. At Outreach, he leads all things marketing, along with the continued evolution of the Sales Hacker community. Max is a highly regarded sales thought-leader published by Forbes, Time, Inc, Harvard Business Review, and Quora. He wrote the book on modern sales called Hacking Sales: The Playbook For Building A High Velocity Sales Machine, which was published by Wiley.

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