Carving out the time and budget to invest in training is one of the biggest obstacles sales teams face. The high costs of course fees, personnel and travel—not to mention the fact that time spent in training is time not spent with customers—can take a major toll on productivity. As a result, many teams don’t receive the level of training they should in order to perform at their best.

E-Learning Helps, But…

E-learning has resolved some of those obstacles to delivering timely, affordable sales training. But even this convenient delivery method comes with its own set of challenges. It’s tough to know whether learners are fully tuned in or if environmental distractions are stealing their attention.

Are they engaged, or playing games on their mobile phone? What about retention? Do they remember—and, more importantly, use—the content and skills being presented? Or is it forgotten the moment they complete the module?

VR and Bots: The New Frontier That Fills Gaps

The use of VR technology and tele-present robots promises to transform training from a static, linear process into a dynamic, immersive experience that combines the high-level engagement of in-person training with the low cost, remote access and convenience of e-learning. By incorporating a VR headset with a stand-in bot (picture an iPad on wheels), this new approach puts trainees virtually in situ, which provides for a deeper, more relevant and more meaningful learning experience.

VR and bots will transform sales training in the very near future by:

  • Providing an engaging, immersive experience: The use of VR and bots adds depth to training environments, which makes for a more authentic experience. By putting trainees into the space where they feel like they’re actually in the room with customers, VR creates a more realistic scenario, as though they are there, without the time and expense of physically getting them there.
  • Making training more affordable: U.S. companies spend over $70 billion on training, with the average annual budget for sales training coming in at over $750,000. The use of VR and bots can dramatically cut that cost, and thanks to the proliferation and access to affordable, high-quality equipment, companies can deploy this new solution using off-the-shelf equipment. In early implementation, we’ve seen companies save as much as $19,500 per employee in onboarding costs alone.
  • Improving retention and impact: On average, half of the content of a sales training event is typically lost in fewer than six weeks. Many participants simply slog through the required training just to check the box and then continue to operate the same as they did before. By virtue of the immersive experience they create, VR and bot technology make for a more impactful presentation, allowing learners to actually practice new procedures in a virtual environment, which solidifies the behavioral change.
  • Shrinking onboarding time: The use of VR has already shown to reduce onboarding time as much as 50 percent by focusing training on actual events rather than potential scenarios. This new focus helps get new team members up to speed and in the field faster with improved customer interactions based on real experience, rather than hypotheticals.
  • Enabling personalized instruction: Students are in the driver’s seat when using bots in a training environment. That means they can interact with the instructor and other participants in a more personal manner and customize the experience while remaining at a remote location.
  • Speeding time to productivity: The immersive experience of VR shortens the learning curve, which enables employees to use their newly acquired knowledge more quickly. Giving reps an in-the-moment experience helps them to internalize the content faster and more thoroughly, so that they may get out in the field to apply it immediately with customers.
  • Enhancing recruiting efforts: The use of cutting-edge training technology sends a signal to potential new hires that your company takes a serious approach to innovation. In a competitive employment market, this can make a big difference in attracting top sales talent to become a part of your forward-thinking team.

By creating an experience that’s nearly real-life at an affordable price, VR and bot training technology will give sales teams much greater access to top-notch learning experiences that would have otherwise been out of reach due to budget and time constraints. As this virtual technology becomes more mainstream, we can expect sales teams in every industry to reap the benefits of enhanced skills, increased productivity and better performance.