Cracking the Code for AI Sales Training
June 14, 2024
The Cringe Podcast - Episode 2 - Matt Cameron

Sales leaders have all faced the practice problem: sellers avoid sales training and sales call practice as if it’s a trip to the dentist.. Why? Because training often feels like a painful  experience. But here’s the kicker: practice isn’t just important; it’s crucial. It’s the secret sauce to consistently hitting targets. So, how can we get sellers to embrace it? This is where AI comes in. Here are five strategies to harness AI and turn practice skeptics into closing champions.

 

1. Personalized Coaching with AI

AI-driven coaching platforms analyze each seller’s performance and offer tailored feedback. No more generic advice that gets lost in translation. Instead, sellers receive specific, actionable insights that speak directly to their abilities and areas for improvement, which provides an environment of psychological safety. It’s like having a personal coach who never sleeps, is always paying attention, ready to watch a role play, and you can count on them to offer immediate and constructive feedback.

 

2. AI-Powered Role-Playing

What about those awkward role-playing exercises that sellers practice with each other, or with managers who *try* to make time for each month? AI can take them to the next level. By simulating realistic sales scenarios, sellers can consistently practice their conversations in a risk-free environment. The Rule of 30 tells us it takes about 30 role play conversations to see a significant step change in performance. AI makes it possible to get that many practices in and adapt to have a meaningful conversation based on the seller’s responses, making the practice both dynamic and engaging. Sellers can practice what works with the right feedback, rather than wasting time on outdated methods like role playing with someone on the team who doesn’t know what good looks like, or with a manager who doesn’t really know what an effective conversation sounds like.

 

3. Data-Driven Learning and Decision Making

AI can crunch numbers faster than we ever could. By analyzing data from past conversations, AI can track the learning journey of each seller, each team and break it down by regions, trainers, sales enablement leaders or any way you would like to slice the data. Doing so provides insights on what is working and where gaps in training exist. Learning and development leaders and managers can inform their training with the performance reports. Sales leaders can identify which sellers are most ready and who will have the greatest opportunity for success in the sales meeting. 

 

4. Create a learning journey with AI Insights and adaptive game mechanics

AI doesn’t just provide one-time feedback. It offers continuous learning opportunities for sellers. As sellers progress, AI tracks their improvements and identifies new areas for growth. This keeps the practice fresh and relevant, and sellers stay motivated when they see tangible results directly related to their success on the job. With adaptive game mechanics such as what you experience with RNMKRS, it meets the seller where they are, offering coaching early on during conversations, offering advice and correcting bad behavior as well as providing new challenges along the way as sellers improve.

5. Use of Gaming Mechanics Can Accelerate Training Success

Gamification has a bad rap in training circles because it was used incorrectly. At the end of the day, sellers do like a good competition. AI can gamify the training process, turning practice into a game with leaderboards, badges, and rewards. This can make training more enjoyable, and also drives sellers to improve their skills consistently. It helps sellers understand where they stand against their peers when it comes to practical application of skills, rather than gamification you see in many organizations when sellers complete activities just to get them to comply. It also gives managers a way to incentivize meaningful application of what they’ve learned,and encouraging them to put in the inputs to get the results they want. This is especially important when onboarding new sellers or shifting the conversation to a new ICP.

Okay, you’ve gotten skeptical sellers to practice, but how do you drive repetition?

Sellers often resist training because they don’t see the immediate benefits to their lives or success on the job. Here’s how to change that:

Respect the Science of Learning: ensure training and practice aligns with the real world experiences of sellers. The buyers should sound like real buyers, the training should move the needle on real world sales performance. If it feels like compliance, it won’t be taken seriously and it certainly won’t be repeated.

Show, Don’t Tell: Demonstrate how AI has helped other teams improve their closing rates. Real-world examples can be powerful motivators to help people see the vision.

Involve Them in the Process: Get sellers’ input on the AI tools and training methods used. When they feel involved, they’re more likely to buy in with their new found sense of ownership. When you are setting up scenarios for practice, get their feedback on that too. Where do they feel stuck? Getting their perspective goes a long way.

Highlight Quick Wins: Use AI to identify opportunities and celebrate quick wins. When sellers see immediate improvements, they’re more likely to commit to ongoing practice. Recognize when sellers hit training input and performance milestones. Celebrate high performers and recognize your team and leaders using data visualization of learning.

Create a Culture of Learning: Make practice a core part of your development in a healthy sales culture. When everyone is on board, it becomes the norm rather than the exception. When the team values putting in the work and sees learning gains, your team will spend time away from work training and practicing because it is part of their DNA. In a study of more than 3,000 individuals training for sales roles, ‘opportunities for professional development’ were the most important to new job seekers, even more important than compensation. New sellers do want training and opportunities to develop through their career. Organizations should get on board to create a culture that supports this.

Lead by Example: As a sales leader, show your commitment to continuous improvement. If you’re actively engaging with AI and evaluating and communicating about the inputs in and outputs from practice, you will show your team that you value the investment of time and resources. They will too.

Embracing AI is not about replacing the human element, it is about enhancing it. By integrating these strategies and respecting the science behind how sellers learn, you can turn even the most skeptical sellers into practice enthusiasts, ultimately boosting your team’s closing rates. Practice won’t make perfect, but with AI, it gets pretty close.

This content was created by Stefanie Boyer

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