Face-to-Face Sales Training vs Online Sales Training

2 Minutes

When it comes to sales training, different people learn in different ways. With a plethora of options available to business leaders, how can you choose the best possible training for your team? Whether you think your team would benefit from traditional classroom learning or online, both come with their advantages and disadvantages.

Sales training is a core aspect of any sales team's success. It can help upskill or reskills your salespeople, allowing your sales reps to learn new skills, improve their existing skills, and stay up-to-date on the latest trends in sales.

There are two main types of sales training, face-to-face and online, and in this blog, we'll delve into both. We'll explore the advantages and disadvantages of face-to-face and online sales training and help you determine which approach would be best suited to realising the potential of your sales team.

Face-to-face sales training advantages and disadvantages

Face-to-face sales training is conducted in a physical classroom setting and is led by a course instructor or development coach, and can be conducted one-to-one or in larger groups. If you’re considering offering face-to-face sales training to your team, you’ll want to know the advantages and disadvantages of both. Let’s begin with the advantages of face-to-face sales training.

3 advantages of face-to-face sales training

Face-to-face sales training comes with a range of advantages. From allowing for more interaction between the development and your salespeople to opening networking opportunities for your sales team, let’s delve into the three advantages of face-to-face sales training.

1. A more interactive approach

Face-to-face sales training allows for a more interactive approach between the development coach and the salespeople. The physical classroom environment will enable delegates to interact with the learning materials provided by the instructor, making it easier for everyone involved to communicate and contribute to the session.

As well as being interactive, face-to-face sales training allows the instructor to provide in-person feedback to each trainee. Whether this feedback is provided face-to-face in a one-to-one environment or in groups, it can help students identify areas where they need improvement and get support from their coach on developing strategies for improvement.

2. Builds working relationships

Building working relationships is essential within any business, even more so in a sales team. If your salespeople get on with one another and have the ability to work together effectively, this can only lead to positive outcomes for your company. By enrolling your salespeople in a face-to-face sales training course, they will learn how to bond and improve their teamwork skills while also learning more about the world of sales.

Face-to-face training is especially useful for onboarding new salespeople into the business and for bringing sales team members who wouldn’t usually interact together in a safe environment that will develop their skill sets. As well as building working relationships, group sales training can lead to increased motivation and collaboration when it comes time to close deals.

Additionally, face-to-face sales training can be an excellent opportunity for your sales reps to network with other sales professionals. Here, your salespeople will pick up new skills, learn the latest industry insights and bring new ideas and perspectives into your organisation that you were previously unaware of or didn’t know you needed.

As your salespeople network whilst on a face-to-face sales training course, they will learn from others within the industry, which helps to enhance their skill sets and careers, and it also allows them to build potential relationships that could benefit your business. These networking benefits could result in your business forming new partnerships with other companies and potential clients while also introducing you to new candidates that your sales team have interacted with.

3. Provides an opportunity for hands-on learning

Additionally, one highly beneficial advantage of face-to-face sales training is the hands-on learning it provides. Hands-on sales training can help students better understand the course material and know how to apply what they have learned to real-world situations.

For example, the face-to-face sales training course may involve role-play scenarios, where delegates must practice pitching and selling to a client or customer. Here, the coach and other salespeople on the course can provide instant feedback, find opportunities to improve and take away skills that can be applied to their role within your sales team.

3 disadvantages of face-to-face sales training

As we’ve established, face-to-face sales training is a great way for your sales team to learn new skills and improve the sales performance of your business. However, there are potential disadvantages you should know before choosing this approach.

1. Can cost time and money

Face-to-face sales training can be more expensive than online training because it accounts for the costs of physical space, instructors, travel costs, the time your salespeople our out of the office and other physical resources. However, costs can be reduced if you already have a physical space within your office to conduct sales training and dedicated and qualified coaches within your organisation.

Sales training in a face-to-face setting can be more of a time commitment as it requires your salespeople to attend classes during regular business hours. To avoid this, consider conducting sales training sessions outside of working hours or setting aside time for training and development; this could be one day per month, for example. Ultimately, if you want your sales team to realise its potential and stay ahead of the competition, you need to find time for training.

2. Potentially less flexible

Face-to-face sales training has the potential to be less flexible. This disadvantage is more likely to occur if the training is done externally, where it's harder for the provider to cater to everyone and has to schedule one date at a set time and location. If members of your sales team cannot attend the scheduled training, they could miss out on development opportunities.

Of course, this is easier to avoid when training is done internally, as you can find a time that suits the majority. Also, providers will often re-do the training session at a later date to allow more people to attend in the future.

3. Group training may lead to a lack of personalisation

Although most instructors will find time to offer face-to-face feedback during and after delivering the sales training programme, there is always a chance this personalisation may not be offered or is limited. This disadvantage can be the case if the sales training occurs in large groups where the coach is limited to interacting with a large group of students.

However, if communicated to the instructor, your sales team can request feedback from the development coach - even if this is provided at a later date.

Advantages and disadvantages of online sales training

Online sales training is a type of training that is delivered through a web-based platform or virtual setting. Similarly to face-to-face training, online sales training comes with various advantages and disadvantages, and in this section, we’ll explore the top 3 of each. We’ll start by looking at the advantages of online sales training.

3 advantages of online sales training

Online sales training is accompanied by a broad range of advantages, including the cost-effectiveness and flexibility of the solution to personalised feedback and opportunities for online interactions. Here are the top 3 advantages of online sales training.

1. More cost-effective

One of the main advantages of online sales training is that it’s typically less expensive as it doesn’t require the need of a physical space to conduct the session and other physical resources like providing food and transport that you may offer in a face-to-face sales training with everyone present in the same place.

Something we’ll touch on later but is also relevant here, as well as online sales training being flexible with it being conducted anywhere. It’s, therefore, more accessible for businesses to find time for their salespeople to complete the training and better manage the costs their absences could have on the sales team.

2. Boosts the productivity levels of your sales performance

Another advantage of online sales training is that it can help boost the productivity of your salespeople. How, you may ask? Well, with online sales training, you can gain instant access to real-time data to track the progress of your sales team. This data can help you identify how productive your individual salespeople are on the course and where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

You can then use this data from the online training modules and programmes to determine what areas of sales your reps should focus on and take next steps to help them progress. Additionally, you can use this data to decide whether it makes financial sense to keep an employee with your business or if it is worth investing in more training to help them realise their potential.

All of the above will go a long way to helping to boost the long-term productivity levels of your sales performance as you can plan more efficiently around which training programmes best suit your sales reps, who engaged the most in them and what further training is needed for your team. Another way this will boost productivity levels is because your salespeople will know their training progress is being tracked and will be more motivated to achieve the best outcomes.

3. Online sales training is a flexible solution

As we briefly touched upon, online sales training is a flexible solution and here’s why. Sales training in a virtual environment can be accessed by anyone, anywhere and at any time, as long as they have access to the internet. This type of training also doesn’t require a tutor to run the session, and online courses can be completed with the assistance of articles, tutorials and video demonstrations.

Online sales training allows your salespeople to complete the programme at their own pace and in their own time to not disrupt their day-to-day work. As virtual courses are often accessible 24 hours a day, this approach is incredibly beneficial if your sales teams work remotely across different locations and in different time zones or are too busy to attend traditional in-person training classes.

3 disadvantages of online sales training

Online sales training courses can be an excellent option for many sales professionals. Still, it's important to be aware of the potential disadvantages before deciding if it's the right fit. Here are some of the disadvantages of online sales training.

1. Can lead to a lack of interaction

One of the biggest disadvantages of online sales training is the potential lack of interaction with the instructor and other students. In an online training environment, you are limited to interacting with the instructor and other students through discussion forums, chat rooms, and video conferencing. Additionally, due to training taking place remotely, there’s potential for more people to enrol on the training, which can limit interactions between the delegates and the development coaches.

All of this can make it challenging for your salespeople to stay engaged and get the most out of the training. However, any good online sales training provider will be aware of this and do their best to ensure interactions during the session.

2. Requires self-discipline from your salespeople

Online sales training requires a high degree of self-discipline from your salespeople. Your sales reps need to be able to stay motivated and on track, which can be difficult without the structure of a traditional classroom setting and can lead to more procrastination and lack of care and attention.

However, as remote sales training courses can be tracked with data, your salespeople should be focused on completing the training and giving their full effort. If your sales team struggles to stay disciplined with completing the training, ask them what they’re struggling with. It could be that they’re not enjoying the training, they find it too easy, or they’re finding it hard to balance their daily work with the sales training.

3. Technical issues can occur

One final disadvantage of online sales training courses is that technical issues can occur and cause problems that disrupt or prevent your salespeople from attending virtual sessions, saving their work and hitting their course assignment deadlines. Your sales reps should be encouraged to test their devices and internet connections prior to the session to minimise the chances of issues occurring.

It’s also worth noting that not everyone has access to a personal computer to complete the sales training remotely from home. Of course, this can be avoided if you can afford to provide the resources to your salespeople or allow them to use the company's tech during the training sessions.

Which type of sales training is right for you?

Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of face-to-face and online sales training courses, the next consideration to make is which one is right for you, your business and your sales team.

The best type of sales training for you will depend on your specific needs and budget. If you’re looking for a high-touch training experience that will help your salespeople build relationships with their colleagues, then face-to-face training may be the right choice. Whereas, if you’re looking for a more affordable and convenient option, then online training may be a better fit.

Alternatively, you could opt for a third option and offer your sales team a combination of both face-to-face and online sales training so that your team can reap the benefits of both methods. This is where blended learning comes in.

Blended learning combines both digital learning and traditional classroom methods. While students still attend a "brick-and-mortar" classroom with a trainer present, this face-to-face training is supported by E-learning and digital follow-up.

Based on the advantages and disadvantages we’ve discussed in this blog, you could make an argument for choosing either method or a combination of both. Whichever type of sales training you decide to offer, the most important consideration you should make is how the training will affect your sales team and your business. Weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of both, get the opinion of your sales team and choose a solution best suited to the needs of your salespeople.

Here at Pareto, we’re passionate about delivering the best quality online and offline training. That’s why we offer a blended learning solution tailored to each business to ensure maximum ROI. Our offering is made up of a combination of face-to-face and online courses led by an experienced trainer and supported by a digital offering. But don’t just take our word for it; check out what our clients say.

Our sales training will realise your sales team's potential

If you’re interested in upskilling or reskilling your salespeople, we can help. Find out more about our approach to blended learning and sales training by exploring our broad range of sales training courses. Alternatively, get in touch with our team to discover how we can help realise your sales team's potential and enhance your business's sales performance.

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