Give your sales staff the freedom to make mistakes

Without a place to practice their skills, sales reps are burning their pipeline and putting brand reputation at risk. So what can be done?

May 7, 2024
Marco Chavira
Give your sales staff the freedom to make mistakes
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Selling isn't an easy job. A whopping 91% of sales teams failed to hit their quotas last year. And while market conditions are indeed tough at the moment, that's not the whole story. 

Research from QuotaPath shows that more than a third (36%) of organizations believe their sales reps are missing their targets because they don't have the right skills or experience to close deals. 

Obtaining the right skills and experience can be easier said than done, though. People often say practice makes perfect, but who are sales staff practicing on? 

A whopping three-quarters of reps say they like to 'learn by doing', and that usually means interacting with real potential customers. 

Sales leaders should be cringing at this point. Because they know this isn't always the ideal environment for people to train in.

Any mistakes made with genuine customers can quickly lead to lost deals, an impacted pipeline, and damaged credibility for the business, not to mention employees losing confidence in themselves or the product. In other words, the brand and staff may suffer as a result of imperfect training conditions. 

So, what's the solution? We’ve found at UneeQ that using digital humans for sales training can help organizations deliver seriously better learning and development experiences for employees. How? By giving them the environment where they can learn and roleplay, succeed and even make mistakes, without practicing/burning your pipeline.

Let me explain…

Digital humans for sales learning and development

Where does the phrase “learning the ropes” come from? Well, it has its roots in the nautical world, and how sailors would have to know which knots to tie and ropes to hoist to capture the wind most effectively.

We’re willing to bet that said ropes were not first learned on choppy waters, where making the wrong decision caused the ship to go crashing into the jagged rocks. No, sailors would practice long before the ship took to the seas – think of this as early learning and development (L&D) experiences.

Back to the present day and we've talked before on this blog about some of the difficulties of providing engaging and memorable learning and development opportunities for employees. 

Training is often expensive and inconsistent; even good-quality L&D training is poorly retained by staff. Most people only remember roughly 10% of what they've learned after a few weeks!

And, as we mentioned earlier, sales staff in particular like to get to grips with their role by practicing in real situations, which typically does not have the best results when they're still learning those ropes. Unfortunately, this is a standard onboarding experience amongst sales teams. In fact, there are some consistent challenges for onboarding sales staff.

One solution lies in the emerging realm of artificial intelligence. Digital humans can deliver AI sales training that offers the best of both worlds – a hands-on learning environment without the risk of burning real-life clients or customers. 

A digital human can roleplay with sales staff, which helps them practice their soft skills and product knowledge in a realistic conversational setting. Crucially, the AI isn't scripted, so it can respond and react in real time to what's being asked. 

But just because it's not scripted doesn't mean it's freestyling! Digital humans are still programmed to work within a core set of company guidelines; it’s trained to know your product information, as well as your sales and brand playbooks.

This means sales staff can practice across a range of different scenarios in order to reinforce their skills and strengthen any weaknesses. For example, a digital human could help your sales reps with: 

  • Objection handling.
  • Complaints procedures.
  • Brushing up on technical knowledge.
  • Relationship building and rapport.
  • Winning deals and closing sales.
  • Negotiating and contracting.

After each training session, digital humans can even provide immediate feedback with the rep on how it went. While sales managers can analyze the performance of each rep to best manage their skill development.

The outcome? Your staff have access to practical sales training – at any time and from anywhere – that simulates the real situations they're likely to encounter when face-to-face with your potential buyers. 

They’re learning how to best use the ropes while the ship is still firmly still in port.

Taking your sales training to the next level

Why is AI sales training necessary for your business? Well, poorly trained sales staff have a direct impact on your bottom line in terms of lost deals and opportunities, but there are also a number of indirect costs. 

For example, staff are more likely to quit if they're not getting the right training. More than half of 'top performers' in sales say they have left their job because of a lack of training or a disappointing onboarding experience. 

In fact, one of the biggest problems facing sales managers today is attracting and retaining the right people, according to Rain Group research, with 52% of leaders saying this is 'very challenging'. A similar number (55%) suggest that keeping top talent is a key priority for their organization. 

This is hardly a surprise. Great employees are always in high demand but short supply. And it takes a lot of time to get new starters up to speed. 

How long, you ask? A new sales rep usually takes about three months to be ready to start interacting with buyers, but it's a further nine months before they really hit their stride. Another 15 months, and you might have a top performer on your hands. 

That's nearly two and a half years before your new starters become big sellers.

It may not sound very long, but the average tenure of a salesperson is only 18 months, which means a decent chunk of your staff will have left before they reach their full potential. 

We’ll leave you to calculate the wasted potential and wasted revenue this would cause to your organization.

Put simply, the best sales reps work at businesses with the best training. And they'll be encouraged to stay with you as a result.

So, why choose digital humans for sales training? 

Every brand wants well-trained, motivated, and confident sales teams who can hit their targets. It's good for the business, it's good for the sales reps, it’s good for managers, and it's good for customers. 

Digital humans can help sales reps reach their true potential by giving them the ability to hone their sales skills in realistic conversational scenarios. 

It gives them the freedom to make mistakes without risks to the organization or their own confidence.

What's more, our data shows that staff who engage with digital humans have 88% near to total recollection of information from training, compared with just 44% for traditional, text-based learning techniques. 

Staff aren't just better trained, they're better at remembering their training.

To learn more about how conversational AI can support your sales staff training, book a meeting to discuss the UneeQ platform with one of our specialists.