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Future of Sales Training: Embracing VR, AR, and Generative AI Technologies

Digital advancements continue to reshape how companies train their teams. But now, different technologies are starting to fulfill the promise of the immersive, personalized learning experience that we hoped for years ago.

In fact, the past two weeks brought news about continued investments in technologies like virtual reality, augmented reality, and generative AI that can be used to provide these experiences and improve sales training. Let’s mix things up and focus on virtual and augmented reality news before diving into the more recently hyped, generative AI.

Virtual Reality

Last week, Accenture Ventures invested in a company that provides virtual reality (VR) learning platforms. VR technology is nothing new to sales and revenue leaders. In fact, while at Xerox, I recall using platforms like Second Life to build sales training over a decade ago. But back then, VR training never really took hold. Limitations such as hardware availability, development costs, and user experience complicated the business case and ultimately deterred significant investments.

But today, those investments are happening.  We surveyed nearly 200 enablement leaders, and 63% of those surveyed use virtual reality as part of their sales training programs today. And why use VR for sales training?  The reasons tend to center on the ability to create an immersive experience for the learners. VR platforms allow immersive experiences that help develop crucial sales skills like empathy and active listening.

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These are skills that improve sales success, and, as I highlighted in a previous post, AI can’t replicate.

Additionally, VR in sales training allows real-world simulations. Sales reps can virtually visit corporate headquarters, a typical client location, or a manufacturing plant. This approach enhances their understanding of the company and client needs, promising to boost their confidence and sales performance.

Augmented Reality

In other news, Apple introduced its first spatial computing product. This technology combines advanced algorithms and sensors to create immersive experiences, blending the digital and physical worlds. Sales enablement teams and instructional designers can overlay instructions onto real-world settings, providing step-by-step guidance for sales reps. These types of technologies can also be a tool for remote team training and group work, allowing multiple users to share the same AR environment.  In the same survey mentioned above, 57% of enablement leaders said they use augmented reality (AR) in their instructional design work.

Both VR and AR have the potential to accelerate learning and improve retention. But, I’m not sure that instructional design skills have kept up with technological advances. I think there is much more to do here once the cost of design and hardware makes investing in these technologies for training more prevalent. Note: Having these technologies as part of your training may also help attract new sellers, especially GenZ, to your sales teams. Attracting this generation of sellers is a hot topic now among CROs and CSOs.

Generative AI

Turning our attention to generative AI, Salesforce Ventures announced an increase to its Generative AI Fund. Generative AI is important for enablement teams because it can create new content, offering possibilities for realistic training scenarios and personalized coaching. Increasing investments in AI for sales start-ups underline the potential of AI in revolutionizing sales training. AI can provide real-time feedback, pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of sales reps, and generate customer behavior insights, leading to more efficient sales strategies.

Future of Sales Training

When we consider the role VR, AR, and AI play in seller training, it’s clear that the future of sales training is not just digital but immersive, adaptable, and transformative. When enablement leaders and instructional designers learn how to leverage these innovative technologies fully, I’m sure we can expect a significant evolution in how enablement teams design and deliver sales training. Maybe you’re already seeing it? If so, I’d love to hear from you. I read all the comments that you put in the field below.

Future of Sales Training: Embracing VR, AR, and Generative AI Technologies

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