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Can On-Demand Sales Training Replace Classroom Training?

By Norman Behar

On this Q&A episode: "Can on-demand sales training replace classroom training.

If you can't see the video thumbnail below, click here to watch the video.

*** Enhanced Video Script ***

There's certainly been a lot of improvements in technology that relate to how training can be delivered—particularly, as we think about the popularity and the convenience of on-demand training programs.

But my initial answer to the question about on-demand training for selling skills as opposed to classroom training is, on-demand training by itself is not a substitute for classroom training.

The reason is because when you think about training sales professionals, it's important not only to cover the skills but to focus on skills application and skills adoption. So, I like to think of sales training and the development of selling skills as a process that includes the knowledge (learning the key skills), the application (applying what you've learned), and then adoption so that you're using these skills on an ongoing basis, as you interface with customers.

The key component in traditional classroom training is the skills application. Classrooms provide a great opportunity for peer-to-peer learning, discussions, questions, answers, getting some coaching from the facilitator, and role playing. Those are all key components of a classroom experience.

Now, these same types of interactions can also take place in a virtual classroom. This is something that we do a lot where we might take a day of classroom training and chunk that into two hour live online sessions where you do have a facilitator. You still have the peer-to-peer learning and discussions but it's not the same dynamic as being face-to-face. However, it does cut down on travel expenses and bringing decentralized groups together.

Then as we think about on-demand training, the experience is getting a lot better. You could use it to front end a sales training program. For example, you could use that for the knowledge stage. That's very popular in terms of creating video snippets. These video snippets can be two to five minutes in length. You could use those to flip the classroom and provide that information in advance of a workshop that focus on skills application.

There's also a number of new sales enablement tools that allow you to add on to the self-paced experience through weekly sessions with training cohorts, maybe groups of 6 to 12 participants, where you start to discuss the skills that were covered, then you create some simulations that you could use of some skills application.

So, when you think about the training experience, can on-demand by itself replace classroom? I don't think so. But the real key components are, do you have a good way of conveying the knowledge?

I think that could be done on-demand in a classroom or in a virtual classroom. And if you have an operative skills application, that's best in a regular classroom. Probably second best in a virtual classroom. But it could also be done through small group cohorts.

Then program adoption, what we're seeing as the most popular type of programs are blended programs. Blended programs have a beginning, where you have some involvement with key stakeholders, you focus on what those key objectives are. Hopefully, some customization for relevancy.

Then you have a learning component. That learning component can take place in the classroom, it can take place in a flipped classroom where you're using video snippets, skills application, reinforcement, ongoing coaching.

Hopefully, this gives you a little bit of sense of kind of the key elements for success. And we see on-demand as playing a key role in the future, but not replacing classroom training.

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About Norman Behar

Norman Behar
Norman Behar is Chairman and Managing Director of the Sales Readiness Group (SRG). He has over 25 years of senior sales management experience, and is recognized as a thought leader in the sales training industry. His blog posts and whitepapers are frequently featured in leading sales enablement publications including ATD, TrainingIndustry.com, and Selling Power.

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