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.