Online Sales Training vs. Classroom Sales Training

It would be wrong to suggest that the use of technology in the delivery of learning is a new phenomenon, there are of course a plethora of options across numerous curriculum areas. However, in person classroom sales training courses remains as popular as ever and has not died the slow death that some predicted.

A critical question that must be asked by buyers in the corporate sector though is what is going to be best for my own learners. Certainly, having an online library of available courses and content is great to make available but it doesn’t necessarily guarantee that learning goals are met or for that matter learners are motivated to use what is available to them.

It is understood that many corporate L&D departments attach the use of learning to performance appraisals and have other reporting models to measure both use and effectiveness, but there is always a danger that the available library becomes a superficial, and therefore costly, means to demonstrate that there is a philosophy of continual development in place. Having one and using it effectively are 2 different things.

So how do we go about measuring what is best and what are some of the key factors that should be taken into consideration?

Cost is clearly an important element, and there are many online only providers that will suggest that they are able to reduce the costs of courses and remove the indirect additional expenses like travel and subsistence. Work productivity is also often highlighted as another element that benefits from an online methodology; train when you want and where you want. There are also some interesting studies that would show that being trained in a drip feed method over time supports learning retention, particularly if you are able to utilize the skill nuggets taught in conjunction with the learning process.

But let’s not forget about some of the benefits of the classroom. Bringing people together in common roles does create a collaborative effect and helps build a team-based approach. Time away from the daily workload also supports a level of focus to learning that is not always prevalent when the learner is left to their own devices to self-study. And let’s also not forget the most important aspect to a classroom learning experience, the instructor or trainer, that learners have exposure too. Remember the instructor’s role is not just to teach, but also to inspire, entertain and create a desire to learn, in addition to providing direct feedback and assessment.

Choosing the most appropriate delivery method can be as difficult as selecting the provider or curriculum however there is also an alternative option available and that is the blend between 2 models. Live online instructor led programs are potentially the best of both worlds, encompassing many of the benefits that each method provides and in many instances the cost effectiveness that online sales training suggests. This third option is one that has all the makings of being a dominant force in the corporate L&D environment, it is already well established within the academic sector to great effect.

What is vital though is that any selection should be based on experience, measuring effectiveness, learner attitudes and motivation and above all success in the knowledge transfer process. There is no evidence that supports a “one size fits all” strategy and being mindful to this will help design an L&D approach that does what it sets out to do, create business benefit, through people and talent.

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