Sales training has never been more accessible. Thanks to modern technology, staff can further their learning anywhere, anytime.
There are thousands of online courses, podcasts, video series, articles and other interactive media which all promise to help people take their sales skills to the next level. The only question is: does online sales training work?
If only the answer was a straightforward ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The truth is, it depends. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to sales training – every course is different. Some online courses are hugely effective, while others barely scratch the surface of what’s required.
It also depends on your goals. What works for one company may not work for another. Whether online training is a good fit for your sales team will come down to many factors, including your budget, how much time you have and perhaps even the industry you operate in.
Blended learning has its benefits
One straight answer we can give is this: online sales training rarely works in isolation. If it’s the extent of your training strategy then it’s likely to fall short. Online training works best when combined with other techniques, such as face-to-face learning and on-the-job training.
Think of sales development as a puzzle, made up of several small pieces which all need to fit together to create a comprehensive strategy. Even if just one piece is missing, the result is far from perfect. To get the best results, it’s advised to take a ‘blended learning’ approach, incorporating a variety of training types.
Online training reinforces face-to-face training
When viewed as part of a larger sales development strategy, online learning definitely has its place. It’s best introduced at the latter end of the sales training process, after some face-to-face time. This is because online training is a great way to reiterate and reinforce techniques that your staff are already familiar with.
For example, if you’ve had a face-to-face session about handling rejection, you could then direct your staff to complete an online quiz on the same topic, which will serve to keep the ideas fresh in their mind and allow them to further explore what they learned in their own space, in their own time. When approached from this perspective, online training can be incredibly powerful.
The goal is to create lasting, enduring change that goes far beyond a quick team talk or 30-minute training session. Online quizzes and tests can be made available for as long as your staff need them, and can be taken at various times throughout their training cycle, as to continually reinforce the most important messages.
Identify and grow your top performers
Another benefit of online training is that it requires your staff to be self-motivated learners. You may be wondering, is this a good thing? Can I trust my team to complete these tests? The truth is, the best salespeople are extremely motivated and are always on the lookout for ways to improve their skillset.
If they are not completing the online tests, then this could be a red flag that perhaps they don’t have the right mindset to excel in a sales position. In this light, online training can be a way for you to separate the serious from the not-so-serious – helping you to get to know your team better, and promote the right people and perhaps let go of those who aren’t a good fit.
Overall, online training is an important piece of the sales development puzzle – providing you build excellent face-to-face and on-the-job training foundations. It’s not effective in isolation, but it works well as part of a wider strategy.
Want to know how to create a successful sales development plan? First, let’s look at what not to do.
Traditional sales training techniques don’t work as well as you might have thought. Check out our free guide to learn more: