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Flexible, Dynamic, and Tailored: How AI Transforms Sales Training

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Flowers are in bloom and it’s time for your company to do some spring cleaning—get rid of your outdated sales training techniques and make way for new, innovative methods. In times of constant digital transformation, sales reps face new challenges.

The Objective Management Group—a leading company in sales force evaluations—identified shortfalls in sales reps’ effectiveness, execution, and realized potential. While 60% of sales professionals show weak levels of responsibility, 65% feel uncomfortable discussing money. Controlling emotions is a struggle to 64% of all salespeople, and only 53% are marginally able to sell value. It comes as no surprise then that around 25% need to improve their presentation and relationship building skills.

One Might Say, Training Cures It All

But, it’s not that simple. Although U.S. companies invested $87.6 billion in sales training over the last year, a recent study by the Association for Talent Development found that the real barrier to successful training is a lack of time: 43% of participants admit to suffering from time constraints and scheduling conflicts in their daily routine. Given the importance of training, this is problematic. Studies show that sales training is necessary to improve sales force motivation, effectiveness, and performance.

Especially in today’s digitized market, sellers face a new reality. On-demand purchasing behavior and an excess supply of goods require sales reps to find new ways to own the sales process and to stand out. At the same time, another challenge to overcome is the increasing customer expectations for personal communication. The pace of change is high, and the pressure to keep up weighs heavily. Time is running short for training practices. According to Fatemi (2018), 50% of sales managers are too busy to train and develop their sales teams on top of their daily management tasks.

Unfortunately, this results in a lack of qualified, tailored and consistent feedback, necessary to engage salespeople and foster fruitful growth. In this regard, one-size-fits-all does not work. Training needs to be flexible and repetitive to ensure lasting behavioral change. Thus, many companies have already started turning to AI and data-based online coaching solutions.

Artificial Intelligence – A Better Way to Train?

Artificial Intelligence, abbreviated as AI, is more than just a buzzword. Based on stored data about each individual sales rep’s communication skills, performance, and personal learning curve, an AI-based training solution can overcome time and quality constraints.

Through AI, salespeople’s training experience can become more flexible and optimized. It can be as simple as uploading a video of a pitch or role-play exercise. Thanks to intelligent video analysis, AI gives tailored feedback on pitching skills, including aspects of communication and personality, together with individualized recommendations for improvement; this makes training much more personalized and valuable for continued growth. Moreover, information and recommendations are data-driven and non-biased, whereas human managers can be prone to regency or confirmation bias when providing employees with feedback. Also, AI-based training is not tied to a specific time or space; it can take place anywhere with an Internet connection and at a time most convenient for the sales rep. In contrast to yearly appointments with managers, sales reps can access the learning solution anytime, receiving instant and consistent feedback whenever needed.

Managers can assess and monitor these data and, with more time at disposal, focus on unsolved and long-term communication struggles of their reps. Moreover, they can develop best-practice approaches to improve the overall sales performance of their team. In the end, AI-based sales training solutions not only save time but also reduce costs.

AI Will Play a Vital Role in the Future of Sales Training. Are You Ready for It?

Retorio is an AI-based software that can be used as a communication coach to help your employees improve their soft skills and become top sales reps. Retorio makes sure that your salespeople effectively communicate with potential clients by analyzing their personality, facial expressions, and body language. Our AI automatically compares their performance to your predefined soft skills criteria. Your benefits: promptly monitor, self-reflect, and detect possible weak points of your employees early on so you can quickly derive tailored means for them to improve. Never before has an increase in sales and communicative performance been easier.

References:

“Sales Coaching by ATD Research: Building a Successful Sales Force.” Sep 2018, ATD Research, https://www.td.org/research-reports/sales-coaching [28.12.2018]

Attia, A. M., Honeycutt Jr, E. D., & Leach, M. P. (2005). “A three-stage model for assessing and improving sales force training and development.” Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 25(3), 253-268.

Attia, A. M., Honeycutt, E. D., & Jantan, M. A. (2006). Global sales training: In search of antecedent, mediating and consequence variables. Industrial Marketing Management, 37, 181-190.

Attia, A. M., Honeycutt, E. D., & Fakhr, R. (2013). “Sales training evaluation: An integrated framework and research agenda.” Journal of Selling & Major Account Management, 13(1), 33-44.

Bari, H. “Why Sales Coaching is So Hard and 6 Ways AI Is Making it Easier and Better.” Customer Think, 30 Nov 2018, http://customerthink.com/why-sales-coaching-is-so-hard-and-6-ways-ai-is-making-it-easier-and-better/. [15.04.2019]

Fatemi, F. “4 Ways AI Is Transforming Sales Organizations.” Forbes, 28 Feb 2018, https://www.forbes.com/sites/falonfatemi/2018/02/28/4-ways-ai-is-transforming-sales-organizations/#39ac18885942 [28.12.2018]

Liu, S. (1996). “Motivating salespersons in Hong Kong and People's Republic of China.” International Journal of Management, 13(2), 179−183.

“Selling Competencies.” Objective Mangement Group. https://stats.objectivemanagement.com/529 [29.12.2018]

Pelham, A. (2002). “An exploratory model and initial test of the influence of firm level consulting-oriented sales force programs on sales force performance.” Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 22(2), 97−109.

Piercy, N. F., Craven, D. W., & Morgan, N. A. (1998). “Sales force performance and behavior-based management processes in business to business sales organizations.” European Journal of Marketing, 32, 79−100.

Posted by Blog Team on Feb 15, 2019 8:00:00 AM

Topics: PersonalityAI, AI, Personality AI, Machine Learning, Retorio, Sales Training

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