Online sales training courses have become a popular alternative to the traditional two-day in-person workshops that used to be the industry norm for sales training. It shouldn’t be much of a surprise, given that they offer more flexible timing and delivery, and are typically more cost effective than in-person classroom training.
When our clients have evaluated and implemented online sales training with their sales teams, they tell us that there are three main factors that make the biggest difference in effectiveness. Those three benchmarks of a highly effective online sales training course are:
- evidence-based curriculum
- training reinforcement
Let’s be clear: all sales training, whether online or not, should have training content with a high pedigree that can offer proven results. An effective online sales training course is certainly no exception, especially the origin of the skills and techniques taught. This means ensuring not only that you are choosing the right training focus, but also ensuring the quality of your training content.
Whenever possible, curriculum in your online sales training course should be evidence-based. There are numerous programs that have been developed based on one sales person’s personal selling experiences and/or theory. As a result, this material may only work for certain sellers, personality types, industries or sales models.
To determine the pedigree of the online sales training course, ask where the content is coming from. Case studies and client referrals are valuable and should be regarded as such, but it’s important to ask for more detail on the origins of the content.
The second element of a highly effective online sales training course to optimize for is the interactivity of the training and platform. Sales leaders don’t want their sellers to be watching instructional videos or lectures for on hours’ end without applying what they are learning. An effective online sales training course shouldn’t include just videos, but also prompts for the participants to put newly learned skills into practice, ideally with real prospects.
In addition to videos, effective online sales training courses have reading exercises, open-ended questions, quizzes/assessments, opportunity to provide feedback and real-life, recorded examples of actual salespeople applying the techniques on actual sales calls. There should also be opportunities for participants to meet with their peers outside of the sales training platform to work through scenarios and different questions together.
Participants having the ability to interact with the material in different ways and their peers throughout the online sales training course helps to ensure that the new skills they are learning become habit.
A Way to Reinforce Training
The last hallmark of a highly effective online sales training course is reinforcement. Any training – whether in an online format or in-person – needs to be reinforced to ensure that the material taught actually sticks and your sellers don’t revert to old habits.
When it comes to online sales training, don’t mistake simply having access to the material as a form of reinforcement. That’s like saying you exercise just because you have a gym membership, even though you never go to the gym. To properly reinforce training, sellers need to be actually reviewing the material and be assigned reinforcement activities – both inside and outside the online platform.
The best online sales training has a reinforcement plan that shows you both the what and the how. Inside the platform, ensure that the course has reinforcement activities built in, and sends out automatic reminders to participants for them to complete their reinforcement assignments.
Outside of the training platform, you want to make sure managers are provided a reinforcement plan and activities that you can be doing on an individual, team and peer to peer level that doesn’t require access to the platform. You also want to ensure that the reinforcement materials provided are flexible enough that they can be implemented at your organization in a minimally disruptive way.