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4 reasons why AI makes sales training and coaching more effective

The time when AI was a promise of the future has long passed. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have entered virtually every business process, with over half of companies reporting AI adoption in one or more functions.[i] The world of sales is no exception. According to Gartner, 88% of chief sales officers have already invested or are planning to do so in AI analytics tools and technologies.[ii] While most use cases focus on areas of sales operations and customer experience[iii], the growing complexity of sales processes, driven by remote sales, hybrid work environments, and distributed teams, makes it important for sales training and coaching to be more effective and relevant. This requires higher granular level data gathering and analysis along with more flexible and personalized learning paths, all of which necessitate the use of AI-enabled tools.

Why sales training and coaching tools need AI

At first glance, sales training and coaching may seem to be highly in need of the human touch, and automating parts of the process may seem to undermine sales rep engagement. However, training and coaching programs are often ineffective precisely because of the limitations of in-person human interactions. Here are four reasons AI enablement makes sales training and coaching more effective:

  1. AI can efficiently integrate learning into sales reps’ workflows:

    Given that most sales reps spend too much time on non-revenue-generating activities[iv], training events that pull them into the classroom (physical or virtual) aren’t practical. AI-enabled training tools allow for seamless integration of on-demand training content with reps' workflows, suggesting learning collateral to reps based on where they are within any given sales conversation. Whether it's a quick rehearsal of battle cards before an important sales call or a late-night practice on objection handling before meeting a challenging buyer the next morning, AI-enabled just-in-time training is always available where and when reps need it and keeps in the flow of work

  2. AI can tailor training for each sales rep’s specific needs:

    Each sales rep comes with different levels of background knowledge and skill sets, learning styles, and learning pace. All of this means a one-size-fits-all training manual is woefully inadequate. But AI-powered learning platforms can create multiple versions of training elements and provide personalized learning paths to suit the needs of individual sales reps based on their roles, responsibilities, territories, personas or industries

  3. AI can ensure a scale of learning delivery and assessment that humans can’t manage:

    The average sales rep has to handle hundreds of sales conversations across different product lines, verticals, customer segments, and sales stages. Fluency in the sales conversation needs more than learning a single script by heart. It requires mastery over multiple discrete knowledge and skill elements that must be agilely combined for each sales interaction. To be able to adapt their sales pitches to each specific sales conversation, reps need to break down the sales pitch into specific scenarios such as cold call opening and objection handling, work on them iteratively so that each micro-skill can be deployed as and when required, and regularly record and share their practice pitches with managers for their assessment and feedback. Unfortunately, managers and coaches just don’t have enough hours in the day to manually assess and provide each rep with in-depth feedback for every practice attempt. Fortunately, AI tools can provide quantitative,unbiased feedback at scale - saving sales leaders hours of time every month. When integrated with traditional LMS solutions, they can simultaneously assess hundreds of rep pitch practices across multiple factors and provide immediate feedback on skill gaps and areas for improvement that reps can work on.

  4. AI can provide consistent and unbiased feedback:

    Managers and coaches typically come with biases drawn from their own past experiences in sales. Even where such bias is minimized, human beings are inconsistent, picking up on different signals at different times due to the influence of varying emotions and points of attention. AI-enabled tools, on the other hand, are driven by algorithms and respond the same way to an input every time. This means that AI-based assessment and feedback are highly objective and unbiased. Further, AI tools can provide immediate feedback across a wide range of factors unlike managers who can only focus on a few factors at a time.

What challenges you could face

While AI offers great potential for superior sales training and coaching, it's essential to have a realistic picture of what AI enablement can do. Here are some challenges you might need to address:

a) Not all AI is equal.

Just because a training or coaching platform is AI-enabled doesn't mean it will fulfill an organization's specific requirements. Companies must carefully assess platforms to ensure that they fit the company’s use cases and strategy and provide the benefits required.

b) AI implementation is not always simple.

An AI-enabled tool’s performance depends on how well it’s integrated with the existing technology or LMS platform of the company. Hence, companies must choose vendors who offer sufficiently mature technological integration and change management processes.

c) AI will not replace people entirely.

Despite doomsday scenarios, AI tools are unlikely to replace humans any time in the near future. Studies show, for instance, that a combination of AI and human coaching is far more effective than either AI-based or human coaching alone.[v] Companies must focus on how AI can be used to augment people's skills and talents rather than seeking to entirely automate training and coaching processes.

How can help

By providing the tools to conveniently create and share pitch practice and demo videos, empowers sales reps to take ownership of their own practice and skill development. Using AI, provides objective, unbiased analysis, scores, and quantitative insights at scale, assessing reps’ pitches for a wide range of indicators such as tone and speed of delivery, topic coverage, keyword usage, alignment with base pitch, and so on, as well as rank each rep’s performance against average and top performers. This aids reps in understanding skill gaps and areas for improvement that they could act upon immediately for improving their performance and helps managers assess which reps are sales ready and which need more training.