If you’re a sales leader who’s decided your team’s current status quo is no longer working, and sales training is the recourse—you’re in good company. According to LinkedIn’s 2018 State of Sales report, in the US alone, companies spend $15 billion a year training sales employees. The next decision you'll need to make is whether to enroll your sellers in an online sales training course, traditional in-person classroom training, or a hybrid of both.
Of course, with proper reinforcement and a targeted definition of success, any sales training initiative, regardless of how your reps are taught, can be extremely successful. However, optimizing the tools used to train your sales team for their unique needs and circumstances will generate better results, faster. There are three main points to consider when determining if online training is the right choice for your team: logistics, learning styles, and learning objectives.
The first factor to consider is the location of your team, and the logistics of their office. Remote sales roles are becoming more popular, and if your team is scattered across the country or globe, the cost of travel, hotels and further expenses will be necessary for a two day in-person training workshop.
With in-person sales training, you will also need to secure a physical venue – at your office or off-site – to hold the training workshop. This is not a concern for some organizations, but is worth mentioning. Finally, there’s a cost associated with flying-in a facilitator to work with your team, in addition to the logistics of providing Wi-Fi and phones for live calling exercises.
These logistical challenges of an in-person training are not at all difficult to overcome, however, they do take time to coordinate – time that C-level sales leaders rarely have. Perhaps most importantly from a productivity standpoint, your sellers also have to take entire days off from selling duties to attend in-person training. If these logistical constraints of in-person training are prohibitive, online sales training may be a good fit for your team.
The second factor to consider about online sales training is how your sellers learn. No matter how the training content is taught, every sales training initiative should incorporate all three main types of learning: audio, visual and kinesthetic. The same lessons should be covered in ways that accommodate different learning styles.
Proximity to the training instructor has an important connection to learning styles too. In-person training gives your team direct and immediate ability to ask questions and react to what they are learning. Alternatively, an online sales training course, with the exception of webinars or live virtual trainings, will force sellers to wait for a response from the instructor.
Another aspect of the way learning styles can impact training are through training duration. Online sales training is paced over time i.e. participants are learning in the training platform for 30-45 minutes per day, allowing them to learn smaller, focused lessons and still fulfill their normal selling activities for the rest of the day. With in-person training, your sellers will likely be in seven hour workshops for two consecutive days learning the material.
So, if your sellers prefer smaller lessons spread out over time, and don’t mind having to submit questions to an instructor for feedback, then online sales training may be the right choice.
The last element of online sales training vs. alternative training methods to consider is exactly how much your team needs to learn. This entails being aware of your seller’s proficiency level and weighing the difficulty level of what they are being taught.
With online sales training, sellers are quizzed, assessed, and evaluated by questions throughout the course. As a sales manager, you are able to receive those results almost immediately to gauge how well your team is building new skills. With in-person training, it is very difficult, if not impossible, to get comparable insights into your sellers’ performance this quickly.
Since online sales training is also self-paced and requires only 30-45 minutes of attention per day, your sellers are able to take what they learned during that day’s lesson and apply it immediately to their selling efforts. During in-person training, your sellers may have a small or limited window of opportunity to immediately practice what they just learned before moving on to the next technique.
Online sales training is a great medium to ensure your sellers are developing the correct sales techniques and habits. However, it’s important to choose a training method that will set your team up for the most success possible. If online training is conducive to the logistics, learning styles and objectives of your sales team, it can be an immensely powerful way to increase revenue.