Practice Makes Perfect: How VR can Elevate Sales Training

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by Kevin Holland

May 2019


Learning how to sell is a bit like learning to ride a bike:  no matter how much time spent learning the theory, it’s the practice that matters.

Sales managers know this-- which is why role play has become a sales tradition.  The stress and pressure of the exercise is critical. Only by stumbling in the moment and overcoming uncomfortable feelings can sales employees learn to be confident and persuasive. Discomfort begets transformation and gives reps the confidence they need to successfully articulate customer benefits, solve problems, negotiate, overcome objections and inspire their peers.

So why is this type of important practice so often missing from traditional sales training?  Organizations spend an estimated $4,000 a year per sales rep on training, but despite the investment, no more than 20% of sales organizations routinely practice the skills acquired during this training.  And it isn’t for lack of interest: according to the latest report from CSO Insights, managers report their biggest regret with sales training - “less selling theory, more selling practice.”

So what’s happening? Why are so many organizations not making practice part a vital part of training? And if they are, why isn’t the practice producing lasting behavioral change?

New technology-driven alternatives to traditional role playing are changing the tides. Proving to be far more effective, scalable, measurable and consistent, an immersive authentic learning experience using VR addresses the gap between tech-enabled and human-enabled solutions. It allows learners to receive constructive criticism in a safe, private space - not in front of a room full of their peers - which allows them to internalize the feedback. VR simulations also allow for precise measurement of training effectiveness, taking the guesswork out of ROI. Mursion designed its virtual environments with this in mind, combining AI with live human interaction to create training that is both empathic and scalable.

To be clear, tech driven opportunities aren't silver bullets. They need to be aligned with an organization’s overall sales enablement and operations strategy. Without a clear understanding of what sales should be practicing and why, organizations run the risk of making an investment that doesn't deliver on its promises. But by implementing a VR-enabled program that maps to the content and goals of a broader sales training strategy, companies can unlock the power of practice-- and improve the sales training process.

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