Over the past few years, artificial intelligence’s power has radically transformed how many business processes are approached. AI has been a boon to companies of all sizes, from automation to greater insights. AI technology has been changing the face of sales departments for years. And now, the ability to improve sales training has an AI solution. In this post, we’ll show you what you need to know to bring the power of AI to your sales training and help your sales staff close more deals.
How AI is Changing Sales
Before we get started, let’s take a quick look at how AI has evolved over the years as a partner to sales teams. Simple AI algorithms have been around for as long as computers have, streamlining processes that once had to be performed manually. Over time, the sophistication of these algorithms has grown exponentially, especially in the modern era of deep learning.
- Automation – Early computers could automate the most simple tasks and were beneficial to businesses. As AI algorithms grew more advanced, the ability to automate increased. Now, computers are better at pattern matching than humans are and can streamline everyday tasks such as data collection, routine engagement with prospects, scheduling, and other administrative tasks.
- Prospecting – The pattern matching ability of computers shines when evaluating prospects. A sales staff doesn’t have unlimited time to follow up on leads and needs to prioritize those most likely to convert. AI algorithms can determine how likely this is and qualify the best leads more accurately than humans can.
- Content evaluation – Good copy sells better than lousy copy. That much is obvious. But it isn’t always easy to determine what makes copy good or bad. AI can evaluate aspects of your sales copy and other elements, such as design decisions. Sales teams can then examine how well different strategies perform in a very granular and objective way.
- Training – One of the newer areas where AI is beginning to aid in the sales process is improving training. As with content, AI examines what makes a good sales pitch or a bad one. By evaluating an individual’s performance against those established metrics, AI can provide helpful insights to improve performance.
How AI is Improving Training
Since this is a post about ways AI can make your sales team sell better, let’s take a closer look at which AI technologies are used to create a training platform that can aid sales staff. Then, we’ll take an even closer look at how it all fits together, providing you with a comprehensive strategy for developing an AI-powered training program.
- Analyzing successful conversations – When fed thousands of examples of video, audio, or transcripts of a sales effort, the AI can learn which patterns of behavior are most associated with a successful attempt and which are more often associated with a failed attempt. AI can pick up on correlations that humans simply would never see. The result is a highly granular analysis of the sales performance, which already provides significant insights into improving a sales effort.
- Rating employee performance – Once the AI has been trained on its data, organizations can feed it any random sales performance, say a video of one of your staff members attempting to close a deal. The AI can rank your employee’s performance across several key metrics using what it learned about good versus wrong sales attempts. This will give an objective scoring of the sale attempt’s performance.
- Providing quality feedback – The logical next step is for the AI to provide actual feedback about a given sales attempt. Because it knows which strategies work and which don’t and how a given example attempt compares to those strategies, AI can hone in on which aspects of the sales attempt need improvement. When incorporated as part of an iterative process, this provides an excellent guide for sales staff on how to perfect their technique.
Eight Tips For Integrating AI into Your Sales Training and Empowering Your Sales Team to Sell Better
Now that we’ve seen how AI can provide the various components of a sales training methodology, it’s time to look at a blueprint for adapting AI into your sales team training efforts. Many of these tips build upon the others, allowing you to create an effective training program piece by piece. Together, they’ll give you a complete picture of how AI can make your sales teams sell better. Armed with that knowledge, you can craft a customized training system that matches your organization’s needs.
1. Evaluate initial performance
For every member of the staff, you want to know what the starting point is. This initial performance evaluation can be most accurately completed by having the AI examine the sales calls each employee has participated in. Alternatively, you can have all employees engage in a simulated sales effort and evaluate them based on that. The goal here is just to give management an idea of how their overall sales team is performing and each team member an idea of how much they need to improve.
2. Identify top performers
Since the AI will objectively be rating employees, it’s easy to compile and sort a list of the scores to determine who the highest scoring members of your team are for each area that’s measured. This is a crucial step because it allows you to choose which of your current staff should be held up as an example of how to excel at a particular aspect of the scoring criteria. Looking at what these employees are doing right can incorporate their strategies into your training materials.
3. Develop a standard to strive for
Employees should always be trying to improve their performance, but very few of them will be able to achieve a perfect score. As you train your sales staff and watch their scores improve, you need a way to determine if the team member is up to the minimum standards you expect. This can help you decide when to let them run sales calls independently or whether they might not be a good fit for the role. The objective nature of an AI sales performance score makes it easy to assign and measure these minimum standards.
4. Examine weak spots
With your initial evaluations out of the way, you can now have each employee examine what the AI says about their performance. The results will give them a list of areas where they aren’t entirely performing well. This will provide the employee with a focused list of items they need to work on to improve their sales performance. It will also give them a list of things they are doing well, which will help them better understand where their strengths lie and adapt their sales strategy to rely on those strengths.
5. Continually monitor sales calls
The training process shouldn’t be considered a one-time thing. By routinely having the AI examine actual sales calls that each staff member participates in, they can have an ongoing view of their performance and how it’s improving over time. This valuable additional feedback will give members of staff insights into whether or not their attempts at refining their strategy are effective. As time goes on, your employees will collectively be able to find and share methods for improving scores.
6. Track employee improvement
In addition to providing your employees with continual assessments of their performance, you should be tracking it yourself. Just as each employee can benefit from seeing what works for them and what doesn’t, the design of your training program and methods can benefit from a company-wide look at how the techniques and processes you experiment with impact how staff learns and improves. It also provides a convenient dashboard for creating performance reviews or identifying which staff members may benefit from specialized coaching.
7. Update training materials
This new, AI-fueled way of examining staff performance at an individual and company-wide level will provide insights into what works and doesn’t. This is true of the skills that staff uses while on a sales call and the techniques they use to improve those skills. From these insights, you can update existing training materials. This can include an updated list of best practices, strategies that have worked for other employees to improve their skills, and an examination of what makes your top performers successful.
8. Reduce reliance on traditional training methods
One of the most significant advantages of this type of AI-based training is that it provides the opportunity for continual improvement from the real-world work the employee performs. This means that employees can continually learn from their successes and failures without sitting in a boring class and following a less individualized training method. While those other training sessions might not be entirely replaceable, reducing reliance on them saves time and money while providing a more engaging training experience for staff.
We built Quantified to be an AI-powered sales coach. The platform has learned from a large communication dataset to determine what factors impact sales and customer perceptions the most. It will evaluate your salespeople across various metrics and provide informative feedback about how they can improve their sales performance. To learn more about Quantified, request a demo today.