Why have I given my job to a robot?
It was something I was actually asked recently by a journalist from a leading Sunday newspaper. She was interested because she was wondering whether I was actually dehumanising what’s quite an important human role in the area of learning and development.
I said ‘No, I don’t believe it is. It’s actually augmenting the human, something that I preach about all sales technology.’
What I was talking about was an AI-driven chat bot called Rocky. This is something which I use personally for morning and evening reflection where the artificial intelligent questions stimulate me to think about the what I’m focusing on at any given time.
I choose something from the selection that’s available. For example, Clarity or Wellness, Discipline or Resilience. I’m currently working on Prioritisation. Recently though, what I’ve done is I’ve had the opportunity to train Rocky in Sales Skills. So now another option that a user can pick is Collaborative Selling.
This is really important because for me, coaching is something that makes a massive difference when we’re looking at trying to develop a new skill. It’s something that I include as part of the wider training package that I offer. Therefore it is really ‘as well as’ rather than ‘instead of’ the things that are available.
The way that I’m running sales training now is I put a variety of things into an Accelerator program. I have carefully designed a number of different elements into it. And the Rocky AI coaching is just one part.
Over 12 weeks, people will undertake a programme which centres around the concepts of Think, Learn, Do.
Think is about the content which I take mainly from my book, Selling Through Partnering Skills. In this I explore, how a modern sales person can take the things which really make a difference and start to apply them in their way of working.
Essentially there are a lot of traditional sales techniques which still work. But I also include understanding partnering skills or partnering intelligence (PQ), which brings a whole mindset and ethos, which helps salespeople to become more collaborative. This is the approach people should take to be successful today.
The Learn element is what I’ve been able to build up and understand over 22 years as a professional trainer in how to get an effective message across.
Even in this, I’m embracing other forms of technology to be more effective in how we do it now rather than in the past. Some of the training will be on video. I’ll provide it in this format so that it is always there for a learner to access whenever they need. This is in addition to live training, which is delivered as virtual instructor led training (vILT). By making the live element accessible virtually using now available it means we can schedule lots of shorter versions to be able to keep up the momentum and accelerate the learning.
What about the Do element, which we know is one of the most important parts of learning?
I’m also using technology where I’m encouraging participants to take the things that they’ve learned around modern selling and apply them into a real life scenarios they’re working on. But to ensure these are not being applied randomly, I’m using a buyer enablement platform (Boxxstep) where people can take the information they are generating and store using this technology. What that does is it not only keeps it not only one place, but it aligns it to the real life opportunity that they’re working in. In this way we can progress their activity with the training to culminate in proposals and mutual action plans that will keep the sale as well as the learning. The technology helps us do that as it automatically creates those elements based on the inputs it is receiving, the very things the participants are learning about
Add to this the Rocky coaching. It can be used to focus on the mindset elements that salespeople need (resilience, purpose, productivity), or the more specific material around collaborative selling. It is absolutely aligned to the training that’s being undertaken. And more importantly it is aligned for each and every individual. They can choose what they need to focus on and Rocky will provide appropriate reflection in the form of questions and suggested content. What they get is based on their responses, not a pre-ordained flow. That is the power of using AI.
Salespeople on the Accelerator get access to this 24/7 which allows them to form habits. Using Rocky for morning and evening reflection conversations is an incredible way to reinforce learning. That’s why I’m so excited about it. It’s having a coach in your pocket. I’d love to be with all the people I’m working with all the time. Whenever they need me to be able to stimulate that thinking. This allows me to.
Another layer that I can add, and technology helps me with are podcasts. I speak sales experts, sales leaders and people who can add value this way of working and then make those conversations available for learners. In fact they are available to anybody who wants to listen to them on Selling Through Partnering Skills podcast.
We also create a community around the learning and a well known social media platform is ideal for this. Practically everybody I work with is on Facebook. So in a private group, we can keep conversations going to keep learning off each other.
In summary I think technology is key to how we need to work today. It helps us become more effective and I don’t think is dehumanised us at all.
It’s all about augmenting the human. We still need humans to sell. We still need that personal touch, and the technology available just helps us do it more effectively, whether that’s in learning or whether that’s in the practical application.
Fred Copestake is founder of Brindis, a sales training consultancy.
Over the last 22 years he has travelled round the world 14 times visiting 36 countries to work with over 10,000 salespeople.
His book ‘Selling Through Partnering Skills’ looks at the evolving world of sales and sets out what salespeople need to do to refine their approach. It explores how to take things to the next level through understanding partnering intelligence and using the innovative VALUE Framework.