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Q&A: Sales innovation that delivers quick results

Artificial intelligence and new learning methods are transforming how companies train sales staff and maximise results, according to Richard Hilton, managing director, Europe, the Middle East and Africa, at the New Innovative Miller Heiman Group

How important is technological innovation to your company?

It’s vital because the next generation of learners use technology in school and they are accustomed to using it on a daily basis.

How is artificial intelligence changing sales?

Theoretically, what AI will do for learning and development companies is allow us to have “augmented intelligence” instead of artificial intelligence. What this means for sales professionals is all tedious tasks they do, such as entering information into a customer system, arranging meetings and so on, is essentially going to be replaced by technology. This will allow sellers to spend more time on tasks that are closer to the customer.

How are you changing the way you deliver training and learning?

We’re looking at a blended model that’s tailored to how the organisation and how the individual wants to absorb information, to get the most out of it. Sometimes that will be a traditional classroom setting, other times it may be online and on other occasions it may be delivered through an app.

We need to provide customers with a customised, comprehensive training solution that fits their unique challenges, situations and culture rather than pulling a one-size-fits-all training initiative off the shelf. Organisations have specific needs and individuals learn best in their own way. Our training is geared towards delivering the learning solutions they need.

What innovation are you working on around learning reinforcement?

The most important aspect about reinforcement is the kind of coaching the sales leaders and sales managers provide to their teams. We’re developing ways in which coaching can be tutored, orchestrated and reinforced using technology.

During the sales process, for example, we can provide managers with precise information to pinpoint where their sellers are faltering or struggling on deals. We’re providing real-time data to the sales manager that can be used to help staff while the deal is in progress. This is much better than doing a post-mortem analysis once the deal has been lost or closed, when it does little good.

What we can do is help organisations provide coaching moments in real time, backed by data provided by our Blue Sheet digital worksheet, to help sales leaders and sellers have conversations while deals are in play.

How do you help customers with the challenge of finding talented sales employees?

First, we help organisations discover what talent will succeed in their specific environment and culture. Second, we uncover the traits that can predict success. Third, we help them evaluate their people on the skills and talent elements that predict success, so the organisation and the individual can succeed.

The most important aspect about reinforcement is the kind of coaching the sales leaders and sales managers provide to their teams

We are the only professional development company designed to help organisations sell more and service better, with a set of talent assessments built in to our solutions. As we make sense of what kind of talent an organisation has, we can identify the right kind of training to meet the needs of each individual’s talent potential.

The salesperson has to add value during the selling process; they can’t just be an order-taker or a checklist manager. The way they add value is by understanding the perspective of the customer. We call this prospective selling. If we can help organisations optimise their talent and identify how they can better understand the customer’s perspective, the selling process will become added value instead of a transactional event.

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