Sales Training in a Virtual World

I’m a sales guy. My world is sales performance, sales coaching and training. I’m also a learning and development specialist with a penchant for the future. As a futurist I’m exposed to hard trends which evolve into the future and I’m able to translate these into predictions for industries. Today, this is how I see L&D evolving.

The hard trend is clear and here. A lot of people get caught up in Star Trek type imaginations but the big three tech companies have wheeled out their virtual reality offerings and they’re striking.

Facebook has Oculus Rift, Google is backing a secretive company called Magic Leap and Microsoft has developed an impressive system called Hololens.

Hololens blends 3D holographic images into your physical world giving holograms a real world context and scale, allowing you to interact with digital content and the world around you.

Take a look at this 2 minute video – it’ll blow you away.

This is how I see the impact in the L&D profession. I’ve five trends for you to explore. Remember I’m a sales guy, that’s my context, my world.

Remote collaboration

If you’ve signed up to the 10:20:70 model – 10% of learning is pushed at learners; 20% is pulled on the job and 70% happens on the job, then this trend allows the 70% to happen.

  • Post training coaching sessions can be run almost face to face in a  virtual setting. The trainer and their manager can conduct the coaching with little cost in time or money.
  • Sales meetings can be run remotely and you can invite experts into the room from anywhere in the world.
  • Best practice sharing can be carried out remotely.

Real life simulations

I’m a great believer that we’re performance consultants, not training officers anymore. We help our people increase their performance and the only way you can practice this is through simulation. This is role-play on steroids. Imagine:

  • Entering a room with a real customers programmed to act a scenario and interact with you in a sales situation. The actor would be automated intelligence; you could freeze at any time and look for help and guidance, or ask your coach to appear to offer feedback.
  • Customer service dealing with tricky customers, reading body language, helping the new presenter to present in front of 500 people. All safe simulations and ideal to hone a skill. You don’t learn a skill from a PowerPoint slide.

Tutors/Experts from afar

I’m often asked to visit counties thousands of miles away to address their sales people. Sometimes when we talk about the travel costs and hotel bills, the piece of consultancy withers away. Take away this cost and you can go anywhere and visit any company in the world for the price of an internet connection. This helps with the 10% push element of the training model.

3D Curated Content

Also known as Just in Time Learning. During all phases of the training model, learners need to access content to help them with their performance.

  • It could be to see how to handle a first time buyer looking for a mortgage. Here they would access a file which lays the scene out in 3D in front of them.
  • They may want to know the regulatory aspects required in the sales process. Again they would access a file which would have the chief regulator for their sector explaining it to them, being able to answer questions because this hologram is also automated intelligence.
  • How to handle the price objection, with all our sellers able to access the relevant file to watch in colourful 3D glory.

Remember a major role for us to play in the future is to be the curator of content; we need to curate, not create. And use a Siri type automated intelligence to access it. “Computer, give me a hologram of…?”

Shrinking of L&D Departments

In the olden days we had country mansions housing hundreds of trainers; nowadays we have head office floors with a variety of meeting rooms. These will go, saving millions and trainers or performance consultants will be where they’re needed….in the sales environment, not the ivory towers.

This is how I see it and do you know the scariest notion?

The headsets we wear. Well, Apple will take this on once the big boys have entered the market and they’ll completely re-design it and it’ll look stunning. And mainstream.