At the Selleration Sales Soiree November 12th in NYC, sales professionals gathered to hear how cutting-edge virtual reality technology has impacted Sales Enablement and the Sales Training function. Achieving Communications Mastery, always present in top Sales performers, was a second area of focus and learning for Soiree attendees. G.A. Bartick, President of Consilio Team, and author of Silver Bullet Selling, spoke on the topic of selling processes and told the crowd: “Top Sales Performers do not wing it!”

Gene Feldman, Training Manager for Nestle Purina Pet Care, began by noting there had not been much change in the corporate education space in the past 25 years, “Sales training is still pens, paper, and PDFs,” Feldman said. And the e-learning tech that many companies can be ineffective as learners have a tendency to “burn through the information to get to the answers at the end. They test at 100% even though they didn’t really learn the material.”

But he believes one cutting-edge technology has the potential to radically change the sales learning experience. “Education hasn’t changed in decades. But what we are seeing now is a bigger evolution than we have ever seen before: virtual reality.” 

Why is he so excited about virtual reality for sales development? “One of the biggest gaps we have in sales training is PRACTICE. We have never been able to create a risk-free environment where people feel safe failing. Education is changing behavior through experiential learning. Virtual reality actually offers people real immersive experiences and the opportunity to practice customer conversations.”

Feldman advised the audience not to dismiss virtual reality for sales development as a passing edtech trend: “One of the bad things we do with technology is that we get it, and we throw it out there to see if it sticks. That’s a problem. You have to be methodical. Virtual reality is an iceberg, and we are only seeing the very top of it.”

His advice for sales managers or sales trainers looking to get their company’s decision makers excited about the possibilities of virtual reality: “Get those people into headsets immediately. The excitement of experiencing virtual reality is far more convincing than trying to explain the ROI via email. Make sure their first VR experience is great and shorter than 10-15 minutes. The first few times people are in the headsets, they are only worried about how silly they look.”

He emphasized that unlike any other training technology available, virtual reality gives people experience. “Think about having to fire someone. How do you know what to say? You will have a hard time predicting how the employee could react if you have never had that uncomfortable conversation before. Or, how do you confront a rep about bad body odor? How do you deliver a yearly performance that is negative? Virtual reality can give managers and HR team members experience having difficult conversations before they have the meeting.” 

At Purina, Selleration’s UPtick™ virtual reality sales development tool is being used to give sales reps experience with customer interactions taking place in virtual aisles, and also with physically placing product on the shelf. The company has found cost savings in offering virtual factory tours to the sales team in lieu of expensive travel to the factory itself. “Our entire training program is being re-built around Selleration’s Uptick.”

Feldman explained a number of use cases for virtual reality:

  • Customer interactions
  • Shelf methodology
  • Virtual factory tours
  • Meeting space
  • Uncomfortable conversations

Next, G.A. Bartick, President of Consilio consulting and author of Silver Bullet Selling, delivered an inspirational discussion about sales development. His top advice for struggling sellers: “Top performers do not wing it.” Experience and practice, including that in virtual environments, is key to selling success according to Bartick. 

He also advised the sales managers in the room not to “coach through the rear-view mirror”. The audience laughed in agreement when Bartick asked how many times as reps walking out of a sales pitch they had been lectured by a sales manager on what they could have done better. “Calling reps out on things they did in the past just makes them defensive.”

Bartick advised the crowd to remember that people do not make purchasing decisions logically. Instead he says, ““People don’t like to be sold. But they love to buy. They make emotional buying decisions that they rationalize logically.” His advice is to have a great sales process in place and practice so your team can create success. 

“Do you have the right process in place to take care of the emotional needs of your customers? Do you have a process in place so your reps can get practice saying the right thing at the right time? Those are the keys to success.”

Thanks to everyone who attended the Selleration Sales Soiree. If you missed your chance to experience UPtick, Selleration’s virtual reality sales development tool. Click here to get a demo.