Building a Virtual Training Program That Actually Works

Download Now: Free Sales Training Template
Rebecca Riserbato
Rebecca Riserbato


In the past, onboarding involved sitting in a room and listening to your manager explain the role. Perhaps you’d take coffee breaks and grab lunch, but you almost always had to be on-site. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has changed. Virtual training has often become the default.

woman attends virtual training sessions

There have been many benefits to this change — there are no geographic restrictions for who you hire and no need to pay for travel. Plus, you can be more inclusive, eliminating physical challenges that may affect employees. However, questions about effectiveness remain.

Sales is a famously extroverted job. But today, there are many ways to close deals in person, over the phone, and virtually. So, what type of training makes sense? Let’s review what virtual training is, the best practices, and how to run a virtual training program.

Download Now: Free Sales Training Plan Template

Table of Contents

What is virtual training?

Virtual training is the process of training your employees online. They can be anywhere in the world. As long as they have the tech equipment and Wifi, they are able to log on and go through your training program.

Virtual training is done through an online platform that is meant to replicate the in-person experience of training. You can do synchronous or asynchronous training sessions, some of which are live video or recorded presentations.

Many virtual training programs include both elements for self-paced learning and coaching that take place when you’re being trained by a sales manager.

For example, at HubSpot, self-paced online courses are assigned at the start of the onboarding period. There are also in-person classes with live speakers. Here, participants can ask questions and meet others in their cohort.

In virtual training classes, you can be as interactive and engaging as you need. You can start discussions, ask for audience participation, share sales strategies, practice sales calls, and answer questions.

Implementing a virtual training program can seem like a daunting process, so we’ve listed some best practices and a step-by-step guide below.

Virtual Training Best Practices

1. Be prepared.

Before a virtual training session, you need to prepare. Knowing your content backward and forward will be the first step.

Virtual training also requires technological preparation as well. Get familiar with your learning platform and learn all its bells and whistles. Your training won’t be effective if you don’t know how to go to the next slide or put everyone in breakout groups.

Lastly, prepare to answer common questions. Almost every synchronous session will include time for questions. You’ll want to provide answers whenever possible.

2. Have a backup plan.

As much as you prepare, you can’t be ready for every possible hiccup. That’s why you should have a backup plan for common issues — whether it’s getting someone in the Zoom call, having a backup internet plan, or having chargers for your technology.

Think about common issues that might come up and create a backup plan for those scenarios. Then, have that information readily accessible.

3. Open with energy.

Let’s face it — training can be boring, whether it’s virtual or in-person. Your instructors must be energetic and charismatic from the start. The right host knows how to handle awkward silences and sets the tone for interaction. Your trainers should be passionate and lively to keep attendees’ attention.

4. Make it interactive.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been in awkward Zoom meetings with complete silence. It’s easy for participants at home to turn off the camera and barely pay attention to your training session. The best way to capture attention is to make it interactive and engaging.

Think about your content and how you can make it interactive — include polls and virtual quiz questions, call for discussion, and start breakout rooms. Open-ended questions will be your best bet here.

5. Give your audience all the information they need.

Before signing on to a virtual training, communicate with participants about any expectations. Should their cameras be on or off? Should they prepare anything? Do they have to be muted? Will you be using the chat or hosting a breakout group session?

When your audience is prepared, you’ll set your training up for success.

6. Use several content styles.

We know that trainings aren’t as effective when they’re text-heavy, lecture format presentations. That’s why you should implement several different content styles. It makes it more engaging for the audience, and they’re more likely to remember what you’re teaching them. You should include images, videos, and examples (maybe sharing your screen) to keep things interesting.

7. Gamify if you can.

67% of learners agree that gamified learning is both more engaging and motivating than traditional classes. This might mean hosting live challenges and offering prizes to the winners.

You can gamify training by asking a question and saying the first person to answer will get a prize. You can play training games, roleplay sales calls, and improv different sales methodologies.

At HubSpot, we have a getting to know you game. Here, there’s a virtual game board. People are given points for answering questions about themselves. This incentivizes a transparent, open environment.

8. Schedule breakout sessions.

With virtual training, there’s no limit on the number of participants you can include. That said, the more people you have, the harder it will be to encourage participation.

To mitigate this challenge, schedule breakout sessions for high-quality group discussions. With 10-minute breakout sessions, you can have participants solve a problem and complete activities.

9. Include a Q&A at the end.

No matter what type of virtual training you’re doing, it’s important to leave a space for audience questions. You should encourage attendees to write down their questions in the chat. You can also encourage participants to ask questions as they come up, fostering great live conversation.

10. Ask for feedback and iterate.

Always ask for feedback from your audience. Then, use that feedback to iterate on your training. Usually, this will mean going over something more in-depth or feedback about the platform itself. You won’t have an effective virtual training session if you don’t ask for feedback.

Now that we have an idea of what your virtual training session might look like, let’s go over our guide on how to do virtual training, step-by-step.

How to Virtually Train Your Team

1. Brainstorm the structure of your session.

Before you can create the content of your virtual training session, think about how you want to structure the topic. Think through the subject and write down ideas on the best way to communicate that type of information. This will be the outline of your session.

Be sure to include an introduction, and then you can think through what type of interactive questions you want to ask. Decide what breakout sessions you want to host and how you want to distill the rest of the information.

Lastly, write down a time estimate for each section, so you know how long the session will be.

2. Create high-quality content.

Once your outline is created, it’s time to create that high-quality, valuable content. You might need to create videos, design worksheets, and craft discussion questions. Then, you’ll need to build out the slide deck that you’ll use to navigate all of that good content.

Remember, slide decks should not be text-heavy. You can write out what you want to say in the “Notes” section below your deck.

3. Include breaks in your agenda.

In your outline, if you didn’t include breaks, add those in now. Offering ten-minute breaks after an hour and a half is a best practice. Many training sessions last all day, with back-to-back presentations. Give attendees an opportunity to get up and stretch, get a snack, and use the restroom.

4. Prioritize engagement.

Once your content is created, run through the session. See how interactive and engaging the material is. There might be sections where you can add more opportunities for engagement. Take note of these areas. If a particular section of your training doesn’t seem to hit the mark, think about interactive tools that you can use to make it more interesting.

5. Upload and build with a virtual training platform.

Once this is all done, it’s time to upload your training to whatever virtual training platform you’re using. If you aren’t using a learning management system (LMS), and are instead just presenting in Zoom, you might be able to skip this step. This step will depend greatly on the LMS you’re using.

6. Promote your virtual training program.

Now that everything is built out, it’s time to promote your program. Whether it’s an internal or external virtual training, you either need to communicate to mandatory attendees, or try to get sign-ups via email and social media.

Getting Started

Virtual training isn’t going anywhere. These sessions can be even more interactive than in-person sessions, enhanced by technology that makes your sessions fun and interesting. Start planning your virtual training today, and soon, you’ll have a top-notch program.


Topics: Sales Training

Related Articles


Use this template to set up a 30/60/90 day sales training and onboarding plan.


    Powerful and easy-to-use sales software that drives productivity, enables customer connection, and supports growing sales orgs