Learning and development (L&D) leaders face a plethora of challenges when planning, designing and developing sales enablement initiatives. Products and services are evolving faster than ever. Technology like artificial intelligence (AI), sales analytics software, customer relationship management platforms and sales collaboration and workflow tools are more entrenched across the sales cycle.
In addition, workplaces are becoming more diverse, as well as more geographically dispersed. Sales teams are also busy and always “on the go,” with less time to dedicate to L&D. And sales interactions generate massive amounts of data.
Add to that mix the staffing crunch and budget constraints faced by sales L&D teams, and we’ve got a perfect storm of challenges that impedes sales enablement training. The evolution of AI-enabled immersive learning can help L&D do more with less, to exponentially improve sales enablement.
How has Sales Enablement Training Evolved?
The L&D landscape, especially with relevance to sales and marketing training, has changed dramatically since 2020. Now, there’s a greater emphasis on virtual training, with a focus on digital marketing and sales. The sales team is now adapting to be more customer-focused than product- or service-oriented. Sales enablement training now includes the effective use of sales enablement platforms. And training providers saw the value in offering more adaptive learning technologies, such as AI and machine learning (ML).
Sales-oriented organizations quickly pivoted their sales training strategies to address those changes. As organizations evolved to adopt remote sales training, they searched for ways to deliver more personalized, data-driven, immersive learning experiences for their sales teams.
More recently, AI-driven sales enablement platforms are gaining traction. These platforms provide remote and on-site sales teams with convenient, on-demand access to centrally hosted immersive sales tools and resources, such as video-based learning, simulated case studies, and customer success stories. Powered by AI, the future of sales training lies in highly immersive, personalized and relevant learning that meets each learner’s unique needs.
New Vision With Old Priorities for the Sales Organization
AI is set to redefine sales enablement training in ways that many in the L&D industry might not have envisioned just a year or so ago. While learning priorities for sales teams might remain the same, injecting AI into the sales L&D process will give fresh impetus to those priorities, including:
- Personalized Learning: The use of AI-powered adaptive learning tools and techniques will more rapidly and readily assess knowledge and skills gaps within a sales team. The tools will use intelligent, data-driven skills evaluation metrics to do so, and will then provide personalized recommendations and tailored learning content to bridge those shortcomings.
- Enhanced Customer Experiences: AI-driven, intelligent customer insights will improve sales enablement by assisting sales teams implement more effective mega-data-driven marketing and selling strategies. AI engines can assess data on demographics, geographic norms, past purchase patterns, online behavior and advertising preferences to compile invaluable customer profiles. Chatbots and virtual assistants will compile further insights into customer preferences, patterns and topics of interest to help sales teams deliver enhanced customer experiences.
- Better Sales Team Communication, Collaboration and Performance: AI-enabled sales platforms will use sales performance analytics to analyze team performance and offer strategic insights into a win/lose behavior. Intelligent sales automation and workflow management processes will seamlessly disseminate those insights across the organization to help refine and optimize the sales process. AI-infused sales assistants will take over routine tasks, such as managing schedules, making follow-up calls and compiling reports, freeing teams to focus on sales enablement strategies and personalized client engagement.
Immersive Learning Strategies for Sales Training
Leveraging AI to enhance the performance of your marketing and sales teams requires the use of the most appropriate training tools and techniques. Sales enablement training can help to better empower the team through a range of immersive learning strategies, including:
- Gamification and Simulation: Gamification makes sales training more immersive, fun-filled and engaging. It does so by using game-like features within training modules, such as leaderboards, points and badges, to incentivize competition among sales teams and motivate them to “play and learn.” Immersive, AI-based learning also uses adaptive algorithms to customize simulation exercises tailored to each salesperson’s needs. Whether it’s negotiation skills, handling objections or enhancing product/service familiarity, simulated sales enablement training allows teams to practice and enhance their selling and marketing skills in a safe, controlled environment.
- Virtual Reality (VR) Training: Sales enablement happens through iteration. L&D teams can use VR-based training, augmented with AI, to help salespeople enter a virtual selling environment and repeatedly practice a set of skills until they perfect their abilities. For instance, AI can simulate variations of a difficult call to help the salesperson iteratively improve their customer engagement skills. This occurs without real-world consequences for the salesperson or the organization!
- Mixed Realities (MR): By merging real-world environments with computer-generated ones, training teams can help deliver more effective sales enablement training to their learners – MR includes a range of technologies, including virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and hybrid reality (HR). Salespeople can interact with physical (real-world) and virtual (online) objects that coexist in MR environments. AI-infused sales training, which uses learning and performance analytics data, can then deliver realistic product visualizations, real-world-based simulations, use cases and scenarios to help sales teams excel in their roles.
AI Tools and Technology
Integrated AI-based training and ML technologies help sales-focused organizations quickly analyze large amounts of sales-oriented datasets. They then identify patterns of activities and knowledge and performance gaps to develop personalized profiles for training their sales teams. Customized sales enablement coaching and training recommendations can potentially assist with lead qualification, product demonstrations and customer engagement. Incorporating AI-generated salespeople enables companies to optimize time and resources, as well as enhance customer service and engagement.
Some AI training tools, technologies and techniques used in sales enablement training include:
- AI and Role-Playing, Coaching and Mentoring: AI-powered virtual coaching, VR and AR help create highly immersive, real-world-based simulations to bridge knowledge and performance gaps. Whether it’s learning about new product features, understanding client needs, delivering a sales pitch, managing interpersonal conflict, mastering the art of negotiations, handling difficult prospects or troubleshooting and problem-solving, AI-enabled role-playing helps sales teams refine and enhance their capabilities.
AI tools have also changed how mentoring and coaching take place. Armed with AI-generated salesperson capability profiles, sales leaders (Managers, Supervisors) now use virtual tools for personalized one-on-one coaching sessions. AI-based collaboration and feedback features help mentor sales teams without the typical unconscious biases that can exist in such sessions. This delivers more effective sales enablement and reduces coaching/mentoring time.
- Effective Measurement with AI Analytics: The marketing and sales processes are data-intensive, but manually analyzing such massive data doesn’t offer actionable insights. Integrating AI and ML into sales training allows sales teams to analyze performance patterns, identify knowledge gaps and generate personalized coaching and training recommendations. Such training may also include custom scenarios and simulated exercises to help sales teams refine specific performance-enabling skills.
Finally, it’s important to realize that trainers can’t be available on-demand to train or coach sales teams in the moment or at the place of need. L&D teams can use AI as a great sales enablement training tool to serve salespeople with a plethora of interactive, immersive training resources for any specific learning need. Salespeople can define the “need” (e.g., “How to do …”; “What’s the best way to…”; or “What to add to a proposal for…”) and the AI tools will search the sales enablement platform to provide the most appropriate training and support resources.
Over the past couple of years, the sales and marketing domain has seen a marked increase in the use of AI-driven sales training solutions. Unlike traditional “one-size-fits-all” sales training, AI uses a data-driven, needs-based approach to personalize learning for each salesperson on the team. The use of such sales enablement learning technologies will allow salespeople to refine their skills in an immersive, virtual environment, leading to improved sales performance and organizational growth.
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