Can AI Really Unlock Sales Coaching Opportunities?
At its core, sales coaching focuses on getting the best out of an organization’s sales reps. It involves continuously supporting sales reps’ teams in their crucial revenue-generating tasks. But it has no real “endpoint”- leaders complete employee onboarding, and there’s always more training and coaching to do.
Even if your sales reps are well trained to the point where they have mastered the landscape, including all sales tools in the tech stack, it is never the end as there are always new methodologies, tools, wisdom, and techniques to pass down to your sales teams.
Sales coaching requires continuous support, and sales reps need and deserve all the adequate help they can get. Enter Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Over the past decade, AI has rapidly become mainstream in our everyday life. Siri and Alexa are popular digital assistants in our homes, smart spell check is in our word processors, and social media feeds are on our screens, are all powered by various forms of AI.
And if you need a definition, AI is “the ability of a digital computer or computer-controlled robot to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings,” according to Britannica.
Sales professionals are also aware of the rise of AI in the market. It has great potential to be a “superpower” in the sales industry, and the best part, AI is not here to replace sellers, it’s here to enhance them. A prime example of this is AI used in sales coaching to help sales reps achieve their goals.
Why Sales Coaching is Important
Sales coaching helps evaluate sales reps’ knowledge, skills, and readiness and provides useful feedback for continuous improvement.
The research firm CSO Insights says, “Sales coaching is a leadership skill that develops each salesperson’s full potential. Sales managers use their domain expertise along with social, communication, and questioning skills to facilitate conversations with their team members that allow them to discover areas for improvement and possibilities to break through to new levels of success. When coaching skills exceed expectations, 94.8% of sales reps meet the quota. When coaching skills need improvement, the number of sales reps meeting their quota drops to 84.5%.”
If companies fail to build the right approach, it will reflect in the results. And according to CSO Insights, a laissez-faire or informal coaching approach can significantly hurt success rates.
Sales coaching is vital for several reasons. It helps sales reps continuously enhance their performance status through practice, feedback and repetition. It allows managers to advance training techniques and sales processes and highlight progress and improvement areas for their teams. Next, coaching significantly impacts results. It can lead to increased ROI for your business.
Generally, sales coaching is a common practice proved to increase sales and revenue. However, its full benefits and efficiency are greatly limited by human resources.
Related: How to Accelerate Sales: 5 Sales Coaching Tips
AI-powered coaching can help automate the process and make it easier for companies to achieve desired results. The more strategic your sales coaching approach is, the greater impact your business will have.
Challenges With Traditional Sales Coaching
When done right, sales coaching can be an effective strategy for empowering sales reps. However, the conventional methods of approaching coaching can set the process back.
The following are some issues that make the traditional setup of sales coaching a challenge for many organizations:
- Time constraints– As mentioned, sales coaching is quite time-intensive, particularly with large or dispersed sales teams. It requires a lot of dedicated time from both managers and trainees. Evaluating every rep on every sales call is not sustainable, so many managers and coaches do it less frequently than they should. And reps often don’t have time to attend sales training seminars that conflict with their schedules.
- Inadequate feedback- Performance improvement often relies on efficient feedback. With a traditional setup, it isn’t easy to achieve consistency with feedback since the quality of feedback provided by managers is directly related to how much time they can dedicate to the training sessions. This means takeaways from training sessions vary from one to the other and from one trainee to the next. It also is typically highly subjective and general, hardly enough to initiate real behavioral change.
- Lack of personalization– In an ideal work environment, training should be tailored and personalized to match the individual’s challenges in their roles. Each role presents unique challenges, and each rep has unique weaknesses and strengths. Effective coaching takes into account these unique aspects. It’s not easy for the traditional coaching setup to achieve this.
- Soft skills aren’t measured – How a rep presents themselves and communicates is just as important as what they say. Yet, most traditional coaching platforms cannot measure soft skills, such as speech rate, trustworthiness, credibility, and tone, just to name a few. While words are important, there is so much more audiences perceive from a conversation that can make or break a sale.
The traditional sales coaching approach can drive some results, but with greater investment.
AI-Driven Coaching and Training
Coaching a large team can be a challenging task for any sales manager. You are stretched thin planning and designing content or programs, delivering the sessions, managing any tech stack, etc. You will often lack enough time to train and support every sales rep the way you want, inevitably impacting their performance.
This is where AI-driven coaching comes in.
Remember, AI does not aim to replace the existing human intervention. It’s here to support and supplement the human aspects of coaching.
In the modern world, sales leaders use virtual AI-powered sales coaching that allows reps to practice as many times as they like by roleplaying typical sales process scenarios in a safe environment, uploading sales call videos, or even having the platform assess a live call. This enables them to get comfortable and courageous with their sales pitch and delivery in a nearly-real environment. A human coach can then give final tips and sign-off once they feel ready.
Related: Sales Readiness Tools: The Role of AI-Based Training
AI-driven coaching provides constructive feedback to both reps and leaders such that if a rep is struggling in a scenario, it can be flagged and addressed by a human trainer.
The AI technology will, reasonably, continue to increase in utility. It is here to support and help your sales coaching efforts in several ways, including:
1. Providing a data-focused training approach
AI helps leaders identify where sales reps are struggling by collecting and quickly analyzing the vast amount of data directly related to the sales rep’s performance. This information is then used to influence and inform sales coaching. For example, AI tools can extensively analyze and reveal that a rep struggles with some sales stage or selling a particular product.
This information can be used to focus the coaching process on the relevant stage, product, or competitor. AI tools can also be used to analyze all variables around a product and predict audience response, and recommend a training regimen to increase the chances of selling.
2. Smarter and more in-depth coaching
AI also introduces a more impactful platform to deliver information. This new channel, referred to as the audience digital twin, together with some traditional approaches like targeted training paths, helps you convey insights in a more impactful way.
Audience digital twin mimics the human brain processes to get insight into untapped and unstructured data. It can augment in-session feedback from the coach with additional coaching without requiring extra effort. You can also use machine analysis to run videos and get detailed, unbiased, and instant feedback on voice tone, eye contact, language complexity, emotion, etc., in real-time.
3. Deliver face to face and real-world sales simulations
Roleplaying is the most effective approach to preparing sales professionals for future tasks. These sessions usually include the sales rep, an extra person acting the role of a buyer, and the sales coach.
When done well, these simulated sessions help the rep master the art of interacting with target customers in particular environments.
4. AI is a time-saving tool.
AI saves time by streamlining sales processes and automating repetitive, mundane tasks. This enhances sales efficiency and productivity. One of the biggest drags to sales productivity is when a sales rep or manager has to do admin work, spend time researching and planning, or in the CRM system. Leveraging an AI automation system helps salespeople reduce work and spend more time selling.
It’s Time for a Coaching Change
It’s not a secret that sales has changed. The last ten years have seen more change than the past 100 years, and many salespeople struggle to keep up. Today, a typical coaching process requires several touchpoints and a combination of digital and physical experience. Conventional one-size-fits-all coaching models are a thing of the past. Businesses must revisit how they approach sales coaching processes and align them with current needs.
If you are thinking of improving your organization’s sales coaching, Quantified can help you incorporate AI to enhance your reps’ ability to become excellent communicators in any scenario. From collecting and analyzing data to providing vital coaching insights and guiding the actual process, AI makes your training sessions more productive, personal, scalable, and effective. Request a demo to get AI-powered help that will improve the outcome of your efforts.