According Salesforce’s 2023 “State of Sales” report, today’s selling environment is particularly challenging: almost 70% of sales professionals say that selling is harder now than it used to be. As the report notes, the sales landscape has become “both more competitive and resource constrained” due to factors such as supply chain disruptions, global inflation, and headcount restrictions in companies’ sales organizations.
One result is that buyers have become more sophisticated and more demanding of the salespeople they interact with. The Salesforce report puts it this way:
“Reading down a spec list or script won’t cut it with buyers, who — contending with the same tough market as sellers — seek personalized advice tailored to their specific circumstances.”
That means sales reps, if they are to be successful, must be better prepared in terms of their knowledge and skills than ever before.
But at a time when salespeople are already so weighed down with administrative and other responsibilities that they spend only about 28% of their time actually selling, how can sales leaders even begin to address the necessity of devoting more time and organizational focus to training and equipping their sales force?
It’s in exactly this area that today’s advanced AI-based sales enablement solutions are becoming game changers. ChatGPT, which has quickly gained worldwide attention with both business leaders and the public at large, provides a great example of how a state-of-the-art AI platform can lift an organization’s sales training program to new levels of effectiveness.
The ChatGPT Revolution
November 2022 marked what may well be seen historically as an inflection point for the acceptance of artificial intelligence in our society. That’s when OpenAI announced ChatGPT, which is, in its own words, “an advanced, AI-powered chatbot that can generate human-like responses to natural language queries.”
The impact of that announcement, and of users being allowed free access to the platform online, was immediate—within a week of its debut, ChatGPT had gained over a million users, a total that over the next two months rose to more than 100 million worldwide.
ChatGPT (the GPT stands for Generative Pre-trained Transformer) is a large language model (LLM) deep learning neural network that uses natural language processing (NLP) to converse with people in a very natural way. It was trained using huge amounts of data (from no later than 2021) gathered from the internet.
That information was used to adjust more than 175 billion parameters based on patterns the chatbot discerned in its training data. Those pattern-sensitized parameters, along with the context of the current conversation, allow ChatGPT to predict what the next word in a sentence should be.
That’s really all ChatGPT does—it uses AI to predict the next word based on patterns it identified in its training data. But that ability enables it to answer questions, create emails, letters, scripts, and other documents, code software, carry on purposeful conversations with users, and perform a wide range of other tasks, all at a very human-like level of proficiency.
ChatGPT’s abilities are so impressive that it’s already affecting almost every aspect of our culture, from academia to healthcare to commerce. It is, in effect, the herald of an AI revolution that business leaders cannot afford to ignore. As an article published in the Harvard Business Review declares,
“This is a very big deal. The businesses that understand the significance of this change — and act on it first — will be at a considerable advantage. Especially as ChatGPT is just the first of many similar chatbots that will soon be available, and they are increasing in capacity exponentially every year.”
The promise of ChatGPT and other AI-based solutions is especially evident in the area of sales training and coaching.
How AI Is Making Sales Training and Coaching More Effective
According to both research and experience, the most important factor for increased sales success is helping sales reps improve the soft skills that determine how they relate to customers during sales calls. Soft skills, as defined by HubSpot, “are the combination of people skills, social skills, communication skills, emotional intelligence, and personality traits that make it easy to get along and work harmoniously with other people.”
The problem most sales managers have is that there simply aren’t enough hours in their work week to give each of their reps the one-on-one, interactive coaching that’s so critical for soft skills development. But the advanced AI-based sales enablement platforms now available can give reps the individual attention they need and do so at scale across an entire sales organization.
AI coaching assistants review video or audio recordings of salespeople in real or simulated selling situations to assess the reps’ behaviors and communications as compared to those of top sellers in similar scenarios. The AI provides on-the-spot, objective, quantitative feedback and suggestions that reps can immediately use to gain skills and build lasting habits that lead to increased sales success.
A sales manager will normally set up the AI coach to provide realistic simulation scenarios based on the needs and learning style of each individual. Reps can then engage in AI training on their own schedule, whenever and wherever they wish. And they can do so in private, repeatedly practicing new soft skills until they are mastered, without the intimidation factor of having a sales manager looking over their shoulder and noting every shortcoming or failure.
How ChatGPT Can Improve Sales Training
When provided with detailed and sharply focused prompts that define the contextual framework of your requests, ChatGPT can deliver a wide range of information and analytics to boost the effectiveness of your sales training and coaching program. Let’s take a look at some specific ways ChatGPT can do this.
1. Administrative Support
By providing administrative assistance with mundane and repetitive tasks, ChatGPT can free up time that sales reps can use for improving their skills and knowledge. For example, ChatGPT can help with creating outreach emails and sales reports, entering data into a CRM system, making travel and accommodation arrangements, preparing proposals and contracts, and much more.
ChatGPT is great at providing ideas and suggestions that reps can use as starting points for writing sales copy. The key is giving it detailed prompts that help it understand the product, the market, and exactly what needs to be said. A rep can then edit or build on the text ChatGPT generates to create customized content.
3. Sales Strategy and Pitch Refinement
Sales reps can use ChatGPT to analyze their selling history and identify market trends, the most responsive and profitable customers, and the most effective sales strategies for that customer base. Reps can then tailor their sales pitches based on the needs and preferences of each customer.
4. Objection Handling
By analyzing the historical information in its training data, ChatGPT can identify objections buyers commonly raise and suggest both generic objection-handling best practices and individualized strategies keyed to specific sales scenarios, customers, or industries.
5. Feedback to Reps
ChatGPT can provide reps with specific feedback detailing the strengths and weaknesses of sales copy content, or of a sales strategy, pitch, or objection response, along with precisely targeted suggestions for improvement.
6. Customer Feedback Analysis
By analyzing information obtained through various customer feedback channels, such as emails, chatbot conversations, online reviews, or social media mentions, ChatGPT can help sales reps identify the issues that are of greatest concern to customers.
It can also employ its advanced natural language processing abilities to develop sentiment analyses that characterize customers’ emotional responses to a company’s products and services, or the customer service experience it provides. Reps can use this information to refine their sales presentations.
7. Competitive Analysis
ChatGPT can help analyze the competitive landscape sales reps face by identifying competitors and their products, market share, marketing tactics, and even their marketing strategies. Such information can help sellers determine where they have a competitive advantage and develop strategies to maximize that advantage.
8. Sales Training Resources
By providing prompts that detail a sales rep’s strengths, weaknesses, learning style, and areas where improvement is needed, sales managers can use ChatGPT to generate or identify precisely targeted learning resources such as tutorials, articles, videos, etc. (A word of caution here: ChatGPT sometimes confidently names articles, web sites, and other resources that don’t exist). It can also create individualized role-play scenarios to help reps improve in their areas of weakness.
Using ChatGPT with a Dedicated AI Training Platform
By pairing ChatGPT with a modern AI sales enablement, coaching, and training solution, an organization can materially enhance the effectiveness of its sales training program.
For example, ChatGPT can streamline the process of generating customized simulation scenarios for the training platform to enact based on the individual needs and goals of each rep. And the quantitative metrics the AI trainer generates as it analyzes a rep’s behavior during simulations can serve as ChatGPT prompts that provide the factual and contextual basis for accurate responses to requests such as those detailed above.
The Quantified Simulator is a state-of-the-art AI sales training and enablement platform that can work closely with Generative AI platforms like ChatGPT to maximize the effectiveness of both. Using scenarios prescribed by a sales manager or suggested by AI, Quantified creates highly realistic simulated sales experiences keyed to each trainee’s needs and learning style.
By employing advanced AI algorithms to analyze each rep’s behavior and communications during real or simulated sales calls, the Quantifiied simulator produces precise performance metrics that GPT can use to create enhanced feedback for trainees and sales managers.
If you’d like to explore how today’s advanced AI solutions can substantially improve your company’s sales processes, contact us today to see how we can help.