Due to a shift towards remote selling and more salespeople working from home, sales leaders are asking “does online sales training work?”. We know that best in class companies (and indeed the most successful salespeople) are constantly seeking ways to improve sales performance. So, both coaching and sales training must adopt to the reality of more online learning.
It may take some time to accept that online sales training is not just an alternative to classroom based sales training but could be THE sales training channel as we enter the middle digital sales era. Apart from emotions, there is little to suggest that classroom training is more effective online training for salespeople. Maybe the question is not whether online sales training benefits your sales force; but whether sales leaders can afford not to join in the trend.
Over 70% of companies believe that Online Learning gives them a competitive advantage
The quote above should not really come as a surprise if you think about it. Any form of online learning will provide a flexible tool for employees to use that supports their own ownership for self-improvement. Today, keeping salespeople updated and refreshed on selling skills can be a significant challenge for many companies.
Modern buying practices and complexities in the sales process means it can be difficult for a salesperson to keep up. Sales leadership now need to find ways to constantly bridge knowledge gaps, as and when they occur. Salespeople need flexible training resources that they can use in their own time and on demand to help improve their sales performance. Any company that can provide their sales force with 24/7 access to sales training surely must have some competitive edge over their competitors.
Online Sales Training Facts
In research from Adobe, revenue generated per salesperson is over 26% higher in those companies that provide sales training using technology, including online. The reason is simply, it enables salespeople to train more frequently and more conveniently. Remember, over 25% of all employees leave their job because of lack of development opportunities.
Another survey identified that nearly 65% of companies plan to increase their investment in sales training alternatives (while their in-class training will remain flat or decline.
According to another study carried out by Brandon-Hall, learning via online requires on average 40 to 60% less time than learning the same material in a classroom setting. This is because the training can be taken whenever a person needs it without their day being interrupted. Also, the same survey pointed out that the time saving did not impact learning quality, in fact it showed the opposite.
In another piece of research in online learning retention, the Research Institute of America found that online learning has a retention rate of between 25 to 60% compared to face-to-face training with 8% to 10%. The reason behind these numbers is that online students have more control over their own learning process, can learn faster plus the opportunity to revisit the training as required.
The Major Benefits of Online Sales Training
Here are some major benefits of online sales training plus hopefully the answer to “does sales training work? alongside the advantages for both company and of salesperson.
Effortful retrieval is the term applied when a salesperson is given the opportunity to recall the new information they have learnt. In neuroscience, learning is called “encoding.” This is a one-time process that stores the new information into the brain. To improve retention levels, the salesperson only needs to retrieve that information.
Repeatedly watching a video, reading the material, or thinking about the subject serves to boost the brain which resets the forgetting curve in a person.
Let us take the example of a golf player. They need to access to a golf range to practice constantly and for many hours, because they know that true skill retention and transfer requires learning, practice, and repetition. It is pretty much the same for most professions. They need the ability to access learning material, then practice, and repeat to ensure they stay on top of their game. We already know that access, practice, and repetition is needed to learn new sales skills, so should not sales leaders apply it to sales training as well?
- Self-Paced Sales Training.
More and more salespeople favor self-paced, flexibility, and convenient access to training that the more traditional, time-bound classroom training struggles to deliver. Learning and refreshing their sales skills can adopt to their schedules, so they can easily access the sales training materials to improve critical selling skills. Best of all, this learning method does not interfere with the day-to-day demands.
- Practice over Luck.
Practice makes perfect will never fade, otherwise we need to rely on luck. Trainers know that one of the key factors in creating change and instilling deep sales skills knowledge comes from the opportunity to practice. The use of an online training channel shows that salespeople typically practice the sales skill six times before moving on (driven by the ease of access, the repeat factor and zero judgement). This number is way more practice than any salesperson will ever get in an instructor lead sales training environment.
- More Meaningful and Targeted Sales Coaching.
Classroom training makes it more difficult for both the coach and salesperson to have meaningful and targeted feedback based on the individual salesperson’s needs. Competition for attention, fear of judgement and retention levels become roadblocks to learning outcomes. Assigning online sales training tasks and getting salespeople to write down learning and self-critic brings a more open, transparent, and safe environment in which to learn. The sales coach then becomes a true coach in responding to the salespersons needs over the classroom needs.
- Demonstrate Self-Motivation
Salespeople undertaking online training are demonstrating that they can practice time management and are self-motivated, which are among the top 10 employability skills companies want to see in new recruits. By completing online sales training, a salesperson can prove that they can undertake multiple tasks, set priorities, and adapt to changing sales world.
A Changing Sales Training Imperative
Does online sales training work? It is becoming clear that current world events and the digital era is utterly disrupting the sales environment and by default sales training. A sales training system that many experts have stated that was already losing its relevance in the modern sales world.
Ask ourselves, can the move to online sales training be the catalyst to create a new, more effective method to train salespeople, a method where they assume responsibility for their own self-improvement? While some sales leaders will undoubtedly worry that the hasty transition to online training may have hindered some aspects of the business, others plan to make online sales training part of their ‘sales transformation’ after listening to the logic over emotion.