Identifying some “predictors” of sales people’s ability to learn from the use of e-learning, i.e., a sort of “e-learning readiness” indicator in the sales areas, and experimenting our research approach, this research focused on a quantitative analysis of the learning performance of a sample of FIAT Group’s salesmen in France, normally involved in e-learning programs.
The data collected came from different sources: FIAT France, ISVOR (FIAT Group’s management education branch), and a questionnaire delivered by phone to 224 salesmen and saleswomen.
After having analyzed the data with different statistical methodologies, we could mainly find a confirmation of several positive research findings about the e-learning users’ satisfaction and their perception of the usefulness of the technology. However, we were able to only marginally reach the major objective of our project, i.e., finding meaningful predictors of the users’ ability to learn.
This was certainly due to a number of limitations, including the small number of meaningful independent variables considered (also because of external constraints), and the impossibility of better controlling the research context (especially the delivery of the e-learning packages and the related tests).
However, we think that some significant contributions to knowledge can be credited to our work, including:
• The investigation of the e-learning readiness issue in the important area of sales in the auto industry, not yet explored in the literature, with a number of useful guidelines for the implementation of e-learning programs in large organizations;
• The identification of some relevant research issues and directions, and the suggestion of several original synoptic tables for the analysis of previous research studies.
We therefore believe that this experience and the awareness of its limitations could be helpful not only in view of future research endeavors but also in terms of contribution to the improvement of managerial practices in the growing and tumultuous field of e-learning.