“Which is better for Sales Training? Classroom or Online?” – A summary of 100 responses in LinkedIn

“Which is better for Sales Training? Classroom or Online?” – A summary of 100 responses in LinkedIn

I have posted the discussion question, “Which is better for Sales Training? Classroom or Online?” in LinkedIn groups earlier this week. There were more than 100 responses. I thought the combined wisdom of 100 of us should be shared.

To give you an idea of who responded, there were learning consultants, training managers, corporate trainers, directors, instructional designers, business analysts, product managers, software developers, training leaders and strategists, computer specialists, training & education executives, eLearning managers, instructors, marketing managers, writers, authors, speakers…

…from industries such as Information Technology and Services, Oil and Gas, eLearning, Training, Education, Communication, Government, Pharmaceutical, Media, Banking, Internet, Retail, Machinery, Arts & Craft and so on.

Here is a snapshot of the responses:

Each response was great, reflecting the unique expertise of the respondent and his/ her willingness to share it.

Here are some ( according to me 🙂 ) relatively more detailed/ incisive/ educative responses in verbatim:

In favor of Blended Approach:

  • The answer to that depends on the size, nature, and distribution of the sales force. If it is large, turns over rapidly, and is geographically disperse, then getting people together for leader-led training is cost prohibitive. The best program to have is a combination of leader-led, online, and performance support tools. The proper utilization of leader-led training, where the leader is more of a facilitator as opposed to a trainer, can and does result in improved job performance though.

  • The US Dept of Education recently released a report which showed some interested findings related to just this subject. They found that the best results came from a blended approach which involved both online and class-room, instructor-led scenarios. They also found that online learning proved to have better results than just class-room learning. Address more of this report at http://www.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf

  • From my experience a combination of both online/audio in the car and classroom works really well. I use online/audio in the car to teach the theory and then reinforce and integrate it in classroom by doing exercises that apply it to their job and give them experiences. I have then set it up with their managers to provide ongoing reinforcement of the new behaviors being trained.

In favor of Classroom Training:

  • I used to deliver sales training in a classroom which included making live sales calls in a “virtual office” environment. Although most trainees were apprehensive, being in a group environment helped them to develop and learn from each other. It is essential get sales people out of their comfort zone to ensure they develop and you cannot really do this online.
  • I have taught sales for years, and taken many sales courses myself. I firmly believe the classroom/one on one is THE best way to go. Online is fine for the basics, but nothing can beat the classroom/one on one to produce a successful salesperson. Personalize the sales process, with the basics kept in view, and the sales person and company succeed. Sales is not a cookie cutter venture, but needs to draw and amplify the salespersons own character.

  • I think that training sales should be done better in a classroom. This give an opportunity to some employees to ask any question they have. Also they can get better understanding on processes and procedures.

  • Classroom training (with role plays as the major component) is far superior to online training. Selling is about communicating effectively. In order to learn effective communication skills, you need to be face-to-face.

  • Classroom training is the best and will always be the best. The clients will learn and retain the most with a live person physically in front of them.

In favor of Online Training:

  • All depends on the intensity and subject matter. Virtual classroom training can be very effective. Allowing people to ask real time questions and get answers. Independent (on demand) training can also very effective, Training at sales kick-offs for the introduction of new products, major announcements, etc….

  • Online shall be preferred and it should be treated as case study example.
  • Online training is great! Makes distance shorter, less time pressure…great for IT training, software implementation, procedures, accountancy.

  • We just delivered technical training for learners around the world successfully for a very large financial institution. ILO is definitely one of the major waves of the future for learning. It’s been a mainstay for us for over 7 years as the right investments in infrastructure and workflow is KEY.

What do you think? Thank you for reading my blog and I welcome your comments and sharing of experiences.

RK Prasad


  • Do you do blogroll exchanging? If you want to exchange links let me know.

    Email me back if you’re interested.

  • I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work 🙂

  • The very best is one to one or small group, so time can be spent on the all important role play or rehearsal sessions. Doing it this way, the skills are learned for life.

  • Apres Ski

    This just makes my argument even stronger for online & classroom learning. I use online more and more because of traffic and weather.

    But I will refer back to this article because it’s so relevant in today’s market with all the layoffs, downsizing and jobs being moved to other countries.

    People need to realize they need blended learning with any software program they are learning now. It doesn’t matter if the person is a beginner or advanced. Blended learning is the way to learn all this technology and software.

  • We are sales consultants. One component is training. Lately we have focused on compliance training for state enforced sales and marketing laws (Pharma and Med Device). We have found that the interactive nature of the classroom environment is extremely important to understanding complex issues regarding interactions between reps and physicians. We also believe that live webinars are useful for widely dispersed field sales forces.

  • Great information. I’m in the classroom camp. I noticed that a number of those supporting online were using it for NON sales training – topics that have structure and can be delivered en mass. Sales training needs to be in the class for the role plays and the give and take interactions as Tom and Paul say. I just started doing webinars on sales topics. It works well for straightforward theory, but doesn’t work for role plays. As an ex New Yorker, you know the answer to the tourist’s question to A New Yorker on the street “how do I get to Carnegie Hall?” PRACTICE!!! But I love the data and will use it to help clients weigh the relative merits of the different approaches. Thanks for doing the research. Sam

  • RK,

    First, I would like to thank you for such a timely blog post. This information is very helpful.

    We are currently considering offering online training/blended training and of course, one of our concerns is the very issue of finding a great balance between convenience and effective delivery of material.

    Combined with online video, I think the real issue will be tweaking the content to the medium. Much in the same way a live demonstration is different than television. Both are great mediums but the technique is slightly different.

    Again thanks for the post.

    Jason Rosen, Partner
    Rosen Professional Services

  • Thanks folks for your kind words.

  • I suppose a fantastic on line trainer could be better than a mediocre live trainer, but as I said before, role play and practice are the way to get good. I am a sales trainer, and this afternoon I have been out cold calling selling chip and pin machines – to keep me sharp, and so I know what REALLY works not just theory. I am in the Uk. want some free sales tips ? Google “pauls sales tips”

  • T.T.

    I stumbled upon your website today. Your body of work looks very impressive.

    I am not a HR manager, but I have one question. In the current economic situation, with a continuing Recession and all that, what role can E-Learning play?

  • T.T – Thanks for responding. I think in the current situation, elearning is the most cost effective method for learning/training. It will reduce your training costs. If you have something more specific in mind, please contact me at [email protected]

  • Great mini study, sheds light on the varied opinions of learning professionals with regards to sales training. From the qualitative responses, its evident that there will always be classroom as well as online learning loyalists. The neutral ground, incorporating the best of both worlds, is what the majority seems to have gone with (65% blended learning).

    Interesting read =)

  • Hi,
    Online education can definitely beat classroom study but it will depend on number of factors. It includes accreditation, syllabus quality, scope of practical training and your daily schedule.