sales coaching

How To Level Up Your Sales Coaching with Artificial Intelligence

  • Shoaib
  • Artificial Intelligence, Business, Digital Transformation, Technology
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Sales coaching has always been an essential part of running a business. It can make a massive difference in your company’s overall performance. Coaching also improves the well-being of your sales representatives. It can inspire them to grow past their limitations to achieve new success levels for the organization and in their personal lives.

However, sales coaching isn’t as straightforward as you’d wish. Although many organizations have mastered the basics, the landscape is constantly changing. The digit-first economy, in particular, has made the market unpredictable.

Challenges in Traditional Sales Coaching

The following are some of the issues that make this kind of coaching in the traditional setup a significant challenge for organizations;

  • Time challenges: Sales coaching is a time-intensive undertaking. It takes a lot of time. What’s more, it eats up both the management and trainees’ time. This can often mean that managements try to limit as much as possible the time spent on coaching because they also need to work other revenue-generating aspects of the business. Moreover, the coaching schedules can conflict with time for other sales activities.
  • Feedback challenges: The quality of training feedback that managers can provide is directly related to the amount of time they can allocate to the training process. It means that takeaways from coaching sessions typically vary from one session to the next and from one learner to the next, making consistency very difficult to achieve.
  • Personalization challenges: In an ideal world, this kind of coaching should be personalized to address the challenges faced in individual roles and at a personal level. That’s because each role has unique challenges. Also, each sales rep has unique strengths and weaknesses. The best coaching is that which takes these unique scenarios into account. It isn’t easy to achieve this in the traditional coaching setup.
  • Ad-hoc coaching: Finally, conventional coaching approaches also create a scenario where you may end up coaching for its sake. Think about it – why do many organizations coach in the first place? It’s rarely because they’ve noticed a skills gap. Instead, they coach because they feel they should coach or because it’s the time of the year when they usually coach. This intuition-driven coaching approach has little impact on the bottom line.

Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven Sales Coaching

AI promises to resolve the above and many other challenges associated with sales coaching by addressing three key areas;

  1. Introducing a data-focused approach 

By collecting and rapidly analyzing vast quantities of data related to the sales pipeline and sales rep performance, AI makes it possible to determine where reps are struggling. This information can then inform and influence sales coaching.

For instance, after extensive analysis, AI tools may reveal that a particular representative struggle with selling a given product at a particular sales cycle stage. It may also reveal that the rep struggles even more when facing competition from a specific brand.

With this information at hand, the coaching process can focus on the relevant product and competitor. You can help the rep understand more about the product and how to position it when selling. You can also help them know more about the competitor, including their strengths and weaknesses so that the rep is prepared and armed with the right information as they go out there.

sales coaching

Remember that the same AI tools can be used to make a more accurate sales forecast by analyzing all sorts of variables around the product. The result is a significantly increased chance of selling.

  1. Deliver smarter, more in-depth training

In addition to providing the platform and tools to crunch data to extract insight, it also provides a smarter, more impactful channel to deliver the information. You’ll still rely on traditional training approaches, such as targeted training paths. But you’ll also now have a new channel known as cognitive analytics to help you convey the message in a more impactful manner.

Cognitive analytics is a branch of AI that mimics’ processes in the human brain to gain insight into unstructured data. The easiest way to explain how such analytics would help in sales coaching is to imagine a sales coach training rep on presentation skills where part of the session involving recording participants giving a presentation. Cognitive analytics can augment in-class feedback from the facilitator with an extra layer of coaching, without necessitating additional effort.

You can even run the videos through machine analysis to give instant, unbiased, and detailed feedback on eye contact, voice tone, emotion, language complexity, etc. in real-time.

  1. Simulate real-world face-to-face scenarios 

Finally, the face-to-face role-playing is currently the most effective was to prepare salespeople for the task ahead. The sessions usually comprise the sales rep, a second person playing the part of a buyer, and the coach. When done properly, these role-playing sessions help the agent master the art of engaging targeted customers in specific environments.

Unfortunately, as the name suggests, they are only simulations, which often means that neither of the parties (sales rep or acting buyer) would be serious. This presents a few limitations considering that some things are only learned in the real world by making mistakes and learning from them. Yet, it’s also not a very good idea to practice in the workplace as the costs could be too steep for the company.

When used together with Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), AI can create real-world coaching scenarios without the traditional costs. These three technologies allow you to recreate a real-world-like setting where reps can interact with avatars designed to behave like actual buyers – asking questions, voicing objections, etc.

Summary

If you’re currently thinking about ways to improve your sales coaching, you can see how incorporating AI into your training activities would enhance your sessions. From collecting data and analyzing it to provide key coaching points to guiding the actual coaching process, it makes your sessions much more productive.

Author: Shoaib
Shoaib Chaudhary is an entrepreneur and influencer with over 13 years of experience in the technology industry. He’s influencing global leaders to exceed company goals while advancing social responsibility. Shoaib is a certified Salesforce Consultant and professional with years on helping businesses achieve their digital transformation goals.