Artificial intelligence has ingrained itself so much in our daily lives.
Today, AI-powered systems help us with anything from avoiding traffic jams, cutting down email spam or improving productivity and performance among other things.
Many in leadership roles have begun to consider AI’s potential to improve our sales teams’ performance.
We’ve been achieving so much with the help of AI already, after all. Couldn’t we do even more, if we replaced human sales coaches with powerful machines that can exceed the human potential?
Well, it’s not that simple. Technically, we could but not in a way most sales managers would want it to.
This is primarily because AI lacks common sense and understanding of human nature to identify the underlying causes behind weaker sales performance.
Having said that, AI can help human coaches to surface more insights from the data and do it faster than a human could.
And the right system can even suggest actions to inspire behavioral change in reps (more on that at the end of the article.)
So, although there is a place for AI in coaching, we still have a long way to go to using fully AI-powered coaches in the process.
Before we explain this further, though, let’s explain the basic terminology we’ll be using it this piece.
What is Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning?
Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems that can perform tasks that would normally require a human. In conversation intelligence, AI is primarily leveraged for speech recognition, transcription, and creating notifications when certain actions happen in calls, chats, and emails.
Machine learning (ML), a subset of AI, focuses on analyzing data to create algorithms and statistical models which allow computer systems to perform a specific task without explicit instructions. ML leverages sample data to train the models to perform the designated tasks. ML is a key component of building technology such as conversation intelligence.
Deep learning networks are capable of learning from unstructured data without supervision. These networks will perform a task repeatedly, iterating on it each time to improve the outcome. ExecVision leverages deep learning to identify and understand things like a specific user’s voice.
The Core Challenge of Using AI to Coach Customer-Facing Reps
Your sales team consists of people responsible for managing their respective workflows to deliver on the team’s sales quota. Granted, you can use machines to collect data to analyze each person’s performance and even draw conclusions about it.
You can tell that some salespeople miss hitting their quota because they fail to convert discovery calls into presentations.
AI-driven platforms, like ExecVision, can analyze these conversations and alert you that those people need help. Perhaps they need some coaching or just a pep talk.
And although that’s already a lot, AI cannot do the one thing you must do with the data – extract the real reasons for each person’s poor performance in their respective areas.
- The AI will never tell you that your rep gets anxious when unplanned buyers join the call. It throws her usual discovery flow and affects her ability to drive the conversation forward.
- The AI won’t identify why a person makes fewer dials than their peers. And the reason might be as trivial as being drained from the evening class they’ve attended the night before.
- The system won’t know that another rep’s conversation quality plummeted due to problems at home that occupy their mind and so on.
Only a human can see beyond the numbers, talk to their team and discover the real underlying reasons behind the weaker performance.
Having said that, AI can surface insights to help identify where in their work each of your reps might need some focus. The system can reveal what skills they should possess but do not utilize yet.
But AI cannot coach or improve your people.
AI cannot make your reps better because it lacks the ability to look beyond the raw data to draw conclusions. It cannot inspire a behavior change much like a great coach does.
Why, because great coaches work with more than the data.
Great coaches understand the person they are helping to improve. They listen. And often read between the lines of what their rep is saying to understand their motivation. They know the person’s abilities and what the person is able to do to reach their goal.
Such coaches track and measure the progress along the way and tailor the coaching to the person’s pace. They also walk the talk. They’ve actually done the job themselves in the past and understand what achieving success involves. That and their experience helps show the person things they could never notice about themselves.
A great coach knows how to have a difficult conversation too, and they’re not afraid to have them. But great coaches are also patient. They know that not everyone can get it the first time. They spread out the learning over a period of time so you never feel overwhelmed. They remember everything and follow up with you and more.
Great coaches simply care.
AI isn’t capable of the above.
To AI, a rep is just a string of data to match against patterns to draw conclusions and suggest actions.
But can a notification about a thing to do ever inspire someone into action? I doubt it.
Talking to a coach who can energize you about what needs to be done, on the other hand, can push even the most reluctant rep to pull their sleeves up.
But What If There Was an AI Capable of Driving Behavioral Change?
What if a system existed that would inspire action? One reps would actually want to use and craved their next session with?
Meet ExecVision. We’ve designed our AI with a human factor built into it – our expert knowledge of the domain, gained from collective decades selling, is infused into our AI’s logic and heuristics. Learn more »