Whether you are training new sales consultants or just want to upgrade your sales team’s skills, deciding between online and instructor-led training can be a challenge.
In the end, the decision boils down to four factors: content, quality, effectiveness and cost. Online computer education can be cost-effective, but if you are looking for personal hands on how-to attention and an industry specific approach to learning, instructor-led training course is your best bet. And, it has to be meaningful. Not the flimsy manufacturer’s stuff they make your people attend for a fee. I think these are just another profit center for them and most of the material is pure 1989. They build vehicles, not work your floor.
Want to attract some awesome new talent to the industry? There are thousands of college educated unemployed folks out there who could possibly become your next great super star but you better have a solid and professional training agenda made part of your hiring package or you won’t get close to attracting them.
The most notable benefit to classroom instructor lead training is the direct and personal exposure to a subject matter expert (SME), a professional trainer or an in-house manager who has the ability to connect the material clear and understandable. Then, practice with the team through role playing exercises.
‘Perfect’ practice makes perfect. Depending on the topic you study, having a qualified instructor at your disposal can make a tremendous impact on the learning. If the topic you study has been well-documented through online tutorials like manufacturers’ product knowledge, an online course may be sufficient. But when the topics become more complex, such as learning relationship communications, enhanced phone skills or the fine art of negotiations for example, it will require frequent and elaborate explanations and practical exercises including role playing practice sessions.
In such cases, opting for an instructor-led course yields much more bang for your buck. An experienced instructor or one of your managers can help guide a team in learning the appropriate best practices and help them avoid mistakes that an online course most often overlooks.
Instructor lead training also needs to be tailored to the store which means the instructor has to have the ability to adapt and be flexible to different store cultures. Obviously one of the best instructors is one of your own managers who not only knows the store culture but also knows the personalities of the sales team. This approach will only work if they have leading edge current curriculums to deliver to their team.
An online course can be developed and delivered much more rapidly than instructor-led training. The students have the choice of accessing the material at times convenient to them, eliminating the overhead of travel and scheduling if training is not an in-house instructor lead training course. Learners can selectively pick the content they deem relevant and skip that which they do not, improving the effectiveness of the training and reducing its cost. The problem with sales consultants picking and choosing can be risky because many think they know everything and just may forego the lessons they most need.
One of the drawbacks of online education is the lack of live feedback of your team’s curriculum absorption, understanding and progress. It is similar to emailing your prospects; you cannot receive correct feedback as to whether or not the prospect is actually interpreting the information properly. The instructor-led training provides your team with an unparallel opportunity for the team’s individuals to share their experiences with other team mates and receive tips on how to improve their learning progress from others. Utilizing your team’s experiences is such a valuable asset when they are in your training room together working towards ‘team’ skill improvements. Most online courses today lack the live instructor’s presence. It is the one-on-one personal attention that often differentiates a “good” online training from a “great” instructor-led one.
Computer training opportunities abound, yet the instructor-led classroom training provides a number of benefits over online education. It is important to recognize the trade-offs between online and classroom training and choose the option that best fits your budget as well as your individual learning style and objectives.
Who should take charge of your in-house training program? Obviously one of the best options is one of your managers. But, you need to recognize the differences in managers and leaders then choose the one who best possesses the skills to lead your team and overall business into expanded greatness. If you would like to receive a definition and clarity between these differences and a couple of ideas on various curriculums send me an email and I will forward you something I put together addressing both.
“The only thing worse than training your people and having them leave your employment is not training them and having them stay.”