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First Contender: Live/ Instructor-led Sales Training
Strengths of Live Sales Training:
1. Instructor-led training is the most common method of sales training delivery. Instructor-led training is perceived to be the most effective method in providing content due to the interactive environment, and an expert sales training instructor can offer the best insights and instructions to the learners.
2. Many sales training consultants agree there is no piece of software that can replace the experience and professional insight of a live instructor. Being able to stop and ask questions, clarify misconceptions, role play, and have an open dialogue with a seasoned sales instructor is a valuable resource to have.
3. Over the years within corporate training, it seems role-playing in sales training has become a staple in more businesses' sales training curricula, and for good reason. Research shows, sales teams that continually engage in role-playing are more likely to outperform their non-role-playing competitors.
4. A live sales training instructor can adapt to specific problems the learner may be facing. An expert instructor meets the learning needs of different learners and does not try to force a blanket solution to learning styles. Live sales training instructors can hone in on any problem areas by tailoring the lesson plan to the specific training needs of the classroom. The cookie cutter approach used by many online training programs doesn’t lend itself well to alterations in material.
Weaknesses of Live Sales Training:
1. Reports have shown, a core component of sales training solutions and best practices is ongoing reinforcement. This includes additional skills training, online-based, as well as sales coaching that is designed to ensure the learning happens over an extended period of time. Therefore the learning will have the greatest impact. This can be challenging when it comes to conducting live Instructor-led training (ILT) to a geographically dispersed sales team.
2. ILT training takes employees away from the job. Learners now-a-days either do not want or can’t afford to be absent from their jobs even for a day to attend training. In addition, those who are of the millennial generation do not generally have the patience to sit through traditional ILT training formats.
3. Since learning leaders' demands for proving the impact of training is increasing, many leaders have become preoccupied with ILT training cost-inefficiencies. In addition, since much of the training cost is “indirect” and difficult to identify, quantify and allocate, managing it has grown increasingly frustrating more now than at any other time.
Second Contender: eLearning for Sales Training
Strengths of eLearning for Sales Training:
1. eLearning provides flexibility to sales training. With the right authoring tools, employees can access the latest lessons and modules online at their own pace in their own free time. The company can still set deadlines, but employees have the option to work on their lessons whenever they want within the expected completion date. This way, productivity increases and employees do not have to travel to training sessions, or miss work to complete it.
2. eLearning delivers information to employees faster, and even in real time if necessary. This is especially useful for sales people at the forefront -- those who present to audiences, talk to clients, follow up on deals, etc. When companies make updates to their products or services, it's important that the sales team have the latest news at their fingertips so that they can readily answer questions from clients. Through eLearning,companies can deliver just-in-time product and pricing updates or success tactics easily, thus keeping sales people up to date with product and market updates.
3. eLearning enables employees to be able to access accounts using desktops, laptops, tablets, and smartphones -- gadgets that most sales people have. By training the sales teams with eLearning, companies are maximizing training attendance and training people in multiple locations inexpensively. Since employees are able to complete training from their homes or desks rather than travel to another location, more employees are able to attend, and at a much lower cost to the company.
Weaknesses of eLearning for Sales Training:
1. A lot of questions are answered easier when face- to- face with an expert instructor and you can guarantee an instant answer. eLearning often doesn’t allow the flexibility of having questions and concerns answered during working hours. The sales team typically consists of extroverted employees and the feeling of isolation can often demotivate them and make them feel as though they don’t have the support and reassurance that the physical presence of an instructor provides.
2. Making the learner responsible for their own learning can also lead to some disadvantages. Firstly, eLearning is more reliant on the learner’s motivation and time management than ILT training, so those who struggle in these areas can fall behind. There are also more distractions and opportunities for procrastination than in an ILT environment.
3. eLearning relies on the learner having access to certain technology, whether it’s a reliable internet connection, a particular mobile device, or Flash. The problem is the sales team is typically geographically dispersed and may or may not have the access they need to participate in the eLearning properly. It’s also important to take the learners level of computer skills into consideration. Content that the learner struggles to access and use is just another barrier between them and the sales training that needs to be delivered, which reduces the effectiveness of your overall course.
Which contender wins?
The answer is simple, both.
A blended approach has proven to be the most effective when it comes to sales training. Although traditional live instructor-led training is an effective way to train them, it often doesn't provide a lot of reinforcement of knowledge after the session is complete. With the help of blended learning, the behavioral aspects of selling can be taught in an ILT format and the reference materials and job aids/videos can be made available in the online learning for support.
Keep on track with the training – With an LMS, integrated blended learning approach provides the learners who are geographically dispersed with access to courses without any time limitations, and the instructor can track the details about the learners and provide other learning materials if needed.
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