So far in this blog series, we have explored two ways artificial intelligence (AI) will change how we sell; reducing tedium for salespeople and optimizing how they engage clients. We also looked at how AI will change who is successful at selling. The last area we need to consider is how AI will change how we train and support sales teams.
AI’s Impact on Training
AI is already changing the landscape of how companies educate sales teams. Solutions exist that can walk a salesperson through a web-based course, have them then record sample sales calls using the recently learned skills and messaging, and then have the application score each call. The advantage to this approach is it is scalable, as it can score hundreds or thousands of test calls in seconds, and do so using a consistent methodology.
Another emerging trend is combining AI with virtual reality (VR). At a recent technology conference, I saw a prototype of how this could work. In the example, a salesperson puts on a pair of VR glasses and sees the personas of three different buyers. The system then takes the salesperson through a test case situation where they interact with the buyers. The key advance of this is that the course is tailored based on how the salesperson is performing. If the seller seems to have mastered messaging on the product, the training course goes into a different type of experience, such as presenting objections or questions. Here again, salespeople can practice their skills in a real-world environment in order to master them before they go out and sell in the marketplace.
AI’s Impact on Training Reinforcement and Coaching
AI’s impact can go beyond the classroom environment and help training teams and sales management assess how effective salespeople are at applying new skills and techniques in real-life situations. It does this in a couple of ways. First, it will review all the activities salespeople are engaged in with customers — looking at emails, calendar events, CRM records, etc. — to see what types of discussions sales professionals are having with clients. For example, the system will assess if salespeople are trying to sell new products or are they staying in their comfort zone and selling what they already know.
Second, AI can also review voice recordings of calls to see if salespeople are following the recommended sales process, using the right value messaging, effectively answering prospect questions, etc. When the system detects areas that need improvement, it can serve up additional training modules. If they are still having issues after taking those training modules, AI can signal the appropriate trainer or sales manager to get involved in a one-on-one basis, providing insights into the specific areas the salesperson needs to work on.
With the rapid rate of change we will continue to see in the world of selling and buying, we are going to have to find new and innovative ways to continuously educate our sales teams. AI will be a must-have as part of that training equation to cost-effectively achieve a company’s training goals.
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