Managers dislike Live-Online Learning. It’s true.

Well, maybe not all managers, but some. And it’s with good reason, although it may have very little to do with live-online learning per se.

I met with a DSM (District Sales Manager) at a large Pharma yesterday and had a very interesting interaction. Being a person who likes to know what someone’s pain points are (particularly as they relate to live-online training), I asked him. He was forthright and honest and pointed to his single biggest issue with live-online learning:  He now has to do more work – and he’s already overloaded.

Why would live-online learning cause him more work? Simple – he now has to manage his reps closer to ensure they have the skills they need. Where before he felt the trainer handled that, it now falls to him. How could this be?

In an in-person setting for sales training, an instructor can and will work one-on-one with a rep to do role playing or just take the temperature of how confident and knowledgeable a rep is with the materials. Whether in a breakout session, in the hall, or during a formal evaluation period, the instructor can quickly and effectively determine where the rep is, capability-wise.

In a live-online learning setting, there is a higher barrier to in-class on-the-fly evaluation of a rep’s skills. This barrier is due to a couple of different things. First, because of the intimate nature of the environment, learners are often hesitant to raise the flag and say they don’t understand. Likewise, since learners are afraid to “hold-up” the class, they won’t ask for more help. And similarly, due to the risk of people fading out, facilitators may be reluctant to take the time to make sure learners are fully absorbing the materials.

Also, in online settings, there may not be the informal time built in for checking in on skill assessment. And, in today’s technology landscape, the tools are not yet mature enough to facilitate informal interaction effectively.

So, what do we do to make DSM’s happy and relieve them of the training burden? Live Touch Points with reps on an ongoing basis with small groups.   It’s an instructional design technique that is actually independent of the technology, but leverages the capabilities of distributed learning.

Training departments have been looking for a way to increase the volume and effectiveness of their training while decreasing impact to the field.  Do this:

  1. Conduct a Live-Online Learning session as a precursor to an in-person class.  Do didactic work or something else.
  2. Run an abbreviated in-person class to work on soft-skills.
  3. Conduct a pull through Live-Online Learning session for things that were missed or not fully grasped.
  4. 45 – 60 days later, begin 3 month “Live Touch”  30 min/1 hour sessions Live-Online for competency reinforcement.


DSM issue is solved, costs are reduced, learners are better prepared and marketing messages are reinforced.

Posted on April 28, 2011 in Updates

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