I recently re-watched the George Clooney movie Up In The Air. It’s a great movie, and there is a lot to identify with if you have been a frequent traveller. Within the movie however, there is a battle to move everything online – in this case, it was firing people remotely. Within the sales training world, it is conducting sales training over the internet to deliver the same content, but at a fraction of the price.
The concept is great – you don’t have to take your sales people out of the field and you save a bundle on travel. In addition, the course is often significantly cheaper, especially if it is a pre-recorded course with some simulation and evaluations.
The obvious primary question is whether the sales person actually absorbs the content. Many courses handle this through evaluations and simulation – pass the test, you have learned the content.
What about workshop-style training? You know the ones where your sales team is broken out into groups and role-play scenarios including developing group strategies and presentations. This is also done online – via forums, e-mail threads, and occasionally Skype. Outside of the sales training world, it’s quite common to see this in Executive MBA courses.
But there is a much larger downside to moving all sales training online, and that is the value in bringing your sales team together. Even outside of the sales training content itself, getting your team together is a fantastic opportunity for them to share what is going on and help each other out. They’ll often share strategies that have worked in similar situations with each other, and this type of communication often doesn’t happen unless the team is face to face.
In our SalesWays OPM course, we typically have each sales person pick a couple of opportunities they are working on. We ask them to choose a couple of difficult situations – for instance, a highly competitive situation which would be a nice win for the company. Aside from the value of doing a “deep dive” on those situations, in almost every case another member of the sales team (often from a different region) will pop up and offer a strategy they used to great success in a similar situation.
Proper sales training is absolutely essential to any productive, high performing sales team. It prevents your company from the groundhog day syndrome while competitors evolve. Yet there is more to sales training than the content itself. This is the collaboration and dynamic strategizing that happens naturally during the course of an interactive sales training course or workshop.