4 Reasons Instructor-Led Training is Killing Your Sales Potential

If you want to earn, you’ve got to learn. Staying on top of market trends, needs, insights, and news is key to maximizing your organization’s sales potential. As a result, sales teams weak on knowledge don’t get far – even if the rest of their skillset is outstanding.

For this reason, most sales-oriented businesses invest in employee education. You probably do too. The problem is that there’s a lot to learn and the world is constantly changing… especially in the digital age.

Knowledge-wise, 100,000,000 new blog posts and articles get released each day. Skill-wise, things are moving so fast that 38% of all U.S. jobs are expected to become obsolete or automated by 2030.

This creates a unique set of problems for modern organizations; Namely, keeping up with this pace of change is demanding. The average sales person only spends 32% of their time selling – and a lot of the remaining 68% are dedicated to learning.

That might sound rather ineffective – and it is. Selling less than 1/3 of the time is suboptimal to say the least, and it kills your organization’s potential. So why are things this way?
The question is a complex one with multiple answers, but a major culprit is instructor-led training or moreover the lack of applicable skill as a result.

What is Instructor Led Training?
Whether you know the term Instructor-Led Training or not, you’re well-acquainted with ILT. It’s the standard learning environment with one teacher or instructor and a group of students.

This is how we learn in school – and, later, in a corporate environment, where 59.4% of all companies still use this as their primary teaching and learning method.

The problem with ILT is that it’s rather ineffective. That’s a sweeping statement – but once you read the following facts, you’ll likely agree.

  • Schools are moving away from ILT and towards on-demand learning materials. Case in point: 1 in 3 U.S. teachers is a member of a “Curriculum as a Service” platform that “upgrades” ILT with e-learning.
  • In a traditional, ILT learning environment, 80% of learners say they forget what they’re studying within 30 days.
  • Organizations save between 50% and 70% when they replace ILT with various kinds of e-learning (more on this later).

Looking at these figures, it’s fair to say that instructor-led training is outdated and ineffective. However, what you may not realize is that ILT is killing your sales potential for several other key reasons – starting with…

1. Forcing everyone to study together

Instructor-led training is “one size fits all” by definition. Everyone studies the same stuff, at the same speed, from the same teacher.

This means that some people will inevitably…

  • Get bored
  • Fail to keep up with the instructor
  • Slow the class down because they need extra attention
  • Hear things they already know

It also means that people have opportunities to distract others and get distracted.

The result? Employees lose dozens and hundreds of working hours to inefficiency. That’s weeks and months of wasted productivity – and who knows how many lost opportunities to make money?

The above wouldn’t be problematic if ILT was extremely effective… But 79% of employees admit to having a significant retention and engagement problem in group learning environments.

Of course, a lot of this has to do with…

2. Boredom and Overwhelm

To the average kid, is anything less exciting than school and university classes? Probably not.

In fact, a classroom is the epitome of the word “boredom” – as exemplified by Britney Spears’ facial expression in the clip, “Hit Me Baby”.

Now, the unfortunate truth is that corporate ILT training should be better but just isn’t. All too often, instructors make the same mistakes as public school teachers. For example:

  • Talking at students instead of interacting with them in earnest
  • Failing to make the material practical and interesting
  • Assuming that listeners should be interested in content simply because you’re their teacher
  • Believing that ILT alone, even if delivered exceptionally well, is adequate on its own without properly spaced reinforcement training.

These mistakes lead to wasted time, learning inefficiency, and – ultimately – lost revenue.

That’s the second way ILT kills your sales potential. Number 3 is…

3. Overwhelm

The “optimal” time for a single session of learning or working varies depending on who you ask. Hiroshima University researchers say 52 minutes; others say anywhere between 45 and 90.

One thing everyone agrees on (except for instructor led trainers), though, is that humans weren’t made to study for hours at a time.

Binge Learning doesn’t work any better than Binge Eating

See, instructor-led training tends to be delivered all in one big chunk and even some multi-day seminars aren’t uncommon. And unlike a regular work environment, where you can go to blow off steam by the watercooler or take a 5-minute break when you’re burned out, there’s no way to get time off during training…

Learners end up feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and – eventually – disconnected from the process and the ability to retain and apply best practices. Obviously, this is not conducive to you optimizing your sales.

Even worse, it causes…

4. Demotivation and powerlessness

ILT doesn’t treat individuals like individuals. Again, think back to school; unless you’re one of the lucky few who “gets it”, it’s easy to feel marginalized; underestimated; unappreciated.

ILT mimics this, because it pre-supposes that everyone can benefit the same from a one-size-fits-all solution. It also encourages instructors to talk “at” people because of the physical impossibility of giving everyone the 1-on-1 attention they need.

In the end, some people learn effectively; feel empowered; get motivated.

Others become frustrated and disenfranchised, feeling that the whole thing is a waste of time. And if the ILT is part of your new hire on boarding program, the employee likely has a few toes out the door already.

This wouldn’t be a problem if we were talking about a small minority…

But in the end, only 15% of learners end up applying what they learned via ILT in their job.

Now, let me ask you this.

Can your organization afford to waste time and resources on a form of training that only works 15% of the time?

You probably know the answer to that question. Right?


So I’ll tell you what I’ll do. Going into the “upgrades” and alternatives to ILT is beyond the scope of this article – but I don’t want you to walk away empty-handed, so to speak.

That’s why I want you to download this free factsheet about micro-learning: the most modern and effective form of e-learning available today:

5 Things Every Organization MUST Know About Micro-Learning

Microlearning can be used alone, or as a blended solution to “neutralize” the shortcomings of ILT. Either way, it’s how to guarantee your sales team is highly skilled, on top of all trends and – best of all – empowered and motivated.

Best part?

Unlike ILT, microlearning doesn’t require your team to go anywhere they may feel unwanted, frustrated, or distracted.

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