U.S. companies spent 20% more money in 2017 to train their salespeople than they did to train workers in all other functions. Given that level of financial commitment, organizations need to ensure they’re investing in the best sales training and maximizing their ROI.

The best sales training should inspire, ignite, and even invigorate; helping your organization build a company-wide sales culture where team members speak the same language and relationships form easily across sectors, departments, and divisions.

While some training leaders believe they must choose between a custom-built program or an off-the-shelf solution, we believe in combining the strengths of both into one powerful program.

So, to help you select the best sales training for your organization, we’ve broken down the comparison between the two into five simple categories:
• Time
• Cost
• Content
• Behavior focus
• Delivery methods

Let’s explore each to see how the two compare.


Implementing off-the-shelf sales training is often a quicker fix than creating something custom, meaning you’re able to start delivering training sooner.

In contrast, creating custom training means a few additional weeks of lead time before the program can be rolled out. The tradeoff here, though, is that custom-built programs typically have 3X the longevity when compared to off-the-shelf options.


With a lower initial price tag, off-the-shelf solutions are appealing for many when comparing the higher up-front cost of custom sales training.

However, it’s important to be mindful that off-the-shelf training typically comes with recurring subscription and licensing fees, meaning that over time, your total expense is likely to match that of a custom option. With custom training, you aren’t subject to those recurring costs as you’ll own the training outright.

Here are some quick numbers as an example. An off-the-shelf solution may cost $50,000/year, which sounds like a deal compared to the $125,000 price tag of a custom-built program. But remember, a custom program typically has a 3X longer shelf life when compared to off-the-shelf sales training. All of a sudden, the cost of the off-the-shelf solution has exceeded the cost of the custom-built program. It’s something to consider as you plan and budget.


The beauty of off-the-shelf training solutions is that they offer a one-size-fits-most option, addressing needs and skill sets common to most sales teams.

Custom training takes things one step further with content tailored specifically to your organization’s business needs, products/services, brand, and culture. The benefit is learners see themselves in their training and will be better prepared to apply what they learn to their day-to-day.

Need proof? Read about how 98% of reps at Berkshire Hathaway Media Group agreed their sales training was immediately useful because it was custom-built for them.

Behavior Focus

While there is no denying that knowledge and skills can take you far in the world of sales, not all team members are natural-born sellers. Sales behaviors, though, can be taught and refined—making them a critical tool for developing and enhancing your team’s performance while improving the customer experience and positively impacting your bottom line.

Both custom training and off-the-shelf content can address this, though their approach and level of depth differ.

Delivery Methods

Although custom training more often uses modern delivery methods like interactivity, video, gamification, and social learning, some off-the-shelf solutions do incorporate some of these options as well.

However, you likely will find that the training delivery methods used in custom-built programs generate higher levels of engagement, satisfaction, and training completion than those in their off-the-shelf counterparts.

For example, AppNexus employees enjoyed their custom-built employee training videos so much, completion rates exceeded 70%. Oh, did I mention the training was optional.

What’s the Best Sales Training For Your Organization?

Here’s a quick recap.




  • Quicker to implement
  • Shorter shelf life
  • Longer to build
  • Longer shelf life


  • Less up front
  • Ongoing subscription and licensing fees
  • Higher initial cost
  • No subscriptions or licensing fees


  • Addresses needs common to many organizations
  • Built to match your company’s culture and goals

Behavior Focus

  • Focuses more on knowledge and skills, broadly addresses behaviors
  • Focuses on developing great behaviors in addition to building knowledge and skills

Delivery Methods

  • May not incorporate as many interactive elements
  • Incorporates modern methods of eLearning to drive higher engagement

Bottom line: training drives results.Whether you opt for a custom-built solution or an off-the-shelf option, you can’t go wrong. Consider your timeline and specific needs to identify the best sales training for your organization.Not sure where to start? Let us help! We have nearly a decade of experience delivering client-driven sales training solutions. Connect with us today to see what we can do for your team.