AI-powered sales coaching: hands-off virtual training | Tech Rasta


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A growing number of sales managers are shifting their sales training responsibilities to artificial-intelligence-powered sales coaching, which allows salespeople to continuously practice their skills on photorealistic, virtual “customers” until they perfect the pitch.

This novel approach to training is particularly effective with individuals who have grown up with computer gaming and are accustomed to interacting with on-screen, computer-generated characters that challenge thinking, strategizing, and “rolling with” situations and reactions. Unusual or unexpected.

Although the use of AI in sales training is still fairly new to trucking, there are some industry players preparing to give the technology a try — or at least open to the idea.

Joe Dysart

Dysart

Ed Ackfeldt, director of sales and program management at Yellow Corp., said the truckload carrier is working with Salesforce to bring an AI-powered sales training system onboard.

Called Einstein Conversation Insights, the software uses AI to listen to sales calls, analyze what’s going on, and then provide sales staff with pointers.

“AI is going to play an important role in our growth. As younger generations enter our sales force, the need to rapidly train is more important than ever,” says Ackfeldt. “In the LTL industry, all the information and technical data a great salesperson needs to know is important and necessary to be successful.”

Ed Ackfeldt

Ackfeldt

Traditionally, according to Ackfeld, that training often required sales trainers from Yellow to travel to different parts of the country to bring new recruits up to speed on the company’s sales philosophy and techniques.

But with an AI-based system, much of that journey can be eliminated, he suggests.

Using AI, “we’re able to identify which part of the sales process a person could use additional support and provide one-on-one training prior to the sales call,” Ackfeld said. “We’re told it takes a year for a new salesperson to become highly successful in an LTL sales position. AI accelerates training and helps experts reach faster. Our goal is to reduce the success time to 60 days.

Jennifer Corpus-Romain

Corpus-romaine

Jennifer Corpus-Romain, executive director at the Transportation Marketing & Sales Association, also sees real value in AI-based training, as long as companies see the technology as a value-added element to fully improve the skills of their sales staff. replacement

“Adapting training to include AI allows sales reps to use the technology through their initial training, so sales managers can focus their training efforts on more complex, out-of-the-box scenarios,” says Corpus-Romain. “When we think of AI and technology as complementary — and not a substitute for operations — we can really begin to break down how business can function optimally.”

Geoff Musig, executive vice president of Pitt Ohio Transportation Group, said he’s also open to the idea of ​​using AI to help improve marketers’ pitches.

But Muessig added that any AI system the company considers will need to be highly customizable to ensure it has the Pitt Ohio approach to sales.

I … need to know from our salespeople that they want to be trained using AI.

Jeffrey Mussig is an executive vice president at Pitt Ohio

Geoff Mussig

That sales style, Muessig says, is 80% listening to what the customer wants and 20% assuring the customer how Pitt Ohio can specifically meet those needs.

“I also need to hear from our salespeople, who want to be trained using AI,” he added.

It doesn’t make sense to bring in AI training without buy-in from the sales force, Muessig said.

Pitt Ohio Transportation Group is ranked No. 50 on Transport Topics’ Top 100 list of the largest rental carriers in North America.

Corporate Visions, a sales training firm for business-focused industries such as trucking, said it has already added AI sales coaching that includes photorealistic “customers” that salespeople can practice pitching to.

The move was a no-brainer, according to the company’s chief strategy officer, Tim Reisterer, after confirming that AI sales coaching can get more salespeople up to speed simultaneously than traditional methods.

Corporate Visions uses Second Nature AI sales coaching software.

Tim Reisterer

Riesterer

“Previously, our expert consultants used to assess the vendor’s skills and document the feedback manually. It’s very effective, but many of our clients need to do it at speed and scale, mastering thousands of reps in days,” says Riesterer. “With Second Nature, we train the AI ​​with the best examples of a client’s message delivery skills, and it does the rest — capturing performance, measuring effectiveness and providing coaching.”

One of the main reasons second nature and AI systems have become so big is their emphasis on customization.

Rather than selling their services as the be-all and end-all of any type of salesperson, software manufacturers work with company sales managers to incorporate the skills, approach, tone, and other characteristics of salespeople into their software. A manager knows what works best in his or her particular business.

For example, AI-based sales coaching software for a company that sells medical diagnostics software to neurosurgeons will be customized very differently than AI sales coaching software for a business that sells bungee cords to amusement parks.

Either way, once the AI ​​software is customized for a particular business, it’s just a matter of changing the system for the sales staff to work its magic.

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In practice, pitching with Second Nature is like trying to sell a product or service over a Zoom video call.

As a salesperson, you are pitching “to the customer” on your computer screen, creating your best lines, monitoring what the customer is saying and studying how the customer is responding to you so you can revise your pitch at any time.

But unlike a live sales call on Zoom, the “customer” you want to use with Second Nature and similar systems is actually an AI-powered, photo-realistic representation of the customer — a “virtual being” programmed to respond. Just like a real person reacts to your pitch.

So when you make your pitch to an on-screen ‘customer’ in an AI-based sales coaching system, the same questions, comments and dashes of doubt you would encounter with a human customer are expressed and emoted through the virtual. customer.”

Multiple personas can be created to mimic customers across the demographic spectrum. Moreover, the character can also dream up multiple personalities to mimic quirks, mood swings, unexpected questions, and similar character traits, which are only deeply limited by the imagination of the customizing company sales manager.

Another powerful part of AI sales coaching: As you deliver your pitch to an AI-powered virtual customer, the system is also recording your every word, movement and emotional cue — using that analysis to report back to you on your performance, second-by-second and the overall quality of your pitch. The system tells you how to improve the moments in your pitch that seem weaker than others.

The result? Salespeople who use AI sales coaching can practice with AI-based customer personas over and over again until they perfectly match each of the core personality types that their sales manager believes they have.

Additionally, the 24/7 availability of these AI-powered sales trainers ensures that salespeople can train with these systems at their own pace and on their own schedule.

Sales managers, too, are finding that these systems are changing their day-to-day lives in very positive ways. By customizing an AI system to sell using a specific formula that works for their company, for example, sales managers find they can “program once” and train endlessly.

Additionally, sales managers looking to get a feel for how well a new hire is progressing no longer need to listen in on a live call or observe how a new hire performs face-to-face.

Instead, for a status report on pitching performance, a sales manager might say to a new hire, “Show me your best pitch ever on video.”

Using AI means sales managers don’t have to deal with new hires or others who react negatively to constructive criticism of their pitching ability — or who feel the sales manager is unfairly criticizing them. With AI sales coaching, no one gets angry — just a standard to achieve.

Another major benefit of AI-based sales coaching: By updating the AI ​​system and sending it to the sales force, the tech allows the sales manager to update the entire sales force on how to sell a new product or service.

Granted, polishing your sales chops by pitching a robot can seem counterintuitive in a profession where the art of developing and nurturing a relationship is the beginning and end of everything you’re trying to accomplish.

But when you consider that a robot has the ability and sophistication to assess those relationship skills from every aspect imaginable, AI sales coaching makes more sense.

Joe Dysart is an Internet speaker and business consultant based in Manhattan. Voice: (631) 438-1142. Email: joe@gurutechalert.com

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