Selling Power Blog

News & Insights for B2B Sales Leaders

March 18, 2024

How AI Modernizes Sales Coaching for Managers

By Julie Thomas, President and CEO, ValueSelling Associates
Two women sit across a table from one another and look at their laptops.

Staying ahead of the curve is essential for success in the ever-changing world of sales. Sales managers play a crucial role in nurturing and guiding their teams to achieve targets, but this aspect of the job often takes a back seat as managers don’t have the bandwidth to make their own numbers and develop their people. Artificial intelligence (AI) is coming to the rescue, saving managers precious time by analyzing data and identifying those moments of truth where coaching and guidance can be provided early enough to impact the outcome of the deal.

Here are three ways AI is revolutionizing sales coaching for managers.

1. Data-Driven Insights

AI can provide data-driven insights to identify the biggest developmental opportunities for coaching the salespeople on your team. AI tools have the capability to analyze vast amounts of data – saving managers countless hours of listening to all those sales calls recordings, reviewing dashboards, or reading notes in the CRM system. Based on the data analysis, AI provides sales managers with valuable insights into team performance that go beyond simple metrics to help identify patterns and trends that may not be apparent through traditional methods. For example, at ValueSelling Associates we teach salespeople that they need to uncover the prospect’s business issue. AI can detect that, on the five new business opportunities your sales rep Katie is working, what she has captured as business issues for each opportunity are actually business issues the buyers don’t care about. AI can also provide three questions for the sales manager to ask Katie to help her self-inspect the situation and discover the gap. The sales manager’s role then is to help her close that gap.

AI can also reveal which sales strategies are most effective with specific customer segments or it can highlight areas where individual sales representatives may need additional training.

2. Personalized Coaching Plans

One of the key benefits of AI in sales coaching is the ability to create personalized coaching plans for each team member. AI can learn your organization’s rubric scorecard and use algorithms to assess an individual’s strengths and weaknesses based on their performance data against the rubric’s defined sales standards and criteria. From there, AI can generate a customized coaching program. For example, if a sales representative consistently struggles with closing deals in a particular industry, the AI system can recommend targeted training modules or suggest mentorship from a team member with expertise in that area.

These personalized coaching plans not only enhance the effectiveness of coaching but also demonstrate to sales reps that their managers are invested in their growth and development. Coaching happens best when there’s a trusted, authentic, and caring relationship between the coach and the team member. Sales reps instinctively know when their manager has their best interest at heart, and they will take their feedback much more seriously than purely automated feedback. This can boost morale and motivation within the team, leading to improved overall performance.

3. Recalibrate Rubrics to Measure Improvement

AI offers the ability to adapt and refine rubrics dynamically based on real-time data and insights. For instance, if certain aspects of the sales process become more critical to success due to shifts in market dynamics, AI can adjust the rubric to give greater weight to those factors. AI can also detect nuances in performance and recalibrate the rubric to reflect subtle improvements or areas that need further development. This adaptability ensures that the rubric remains relevant and aligned with the evolving priorities of the sales team – providing a more accurate and meaningful measure of improvement over time.

Additionally, AI prioritizes coaching moments – helping the manager focus on one issue at a time with the rep. It would be too overwhelming to focus on everything all at once. That’s why a baseball coach doesn’t change a hitter’s grip, swing, and stance at the same time. They work with the player to first change their grip, then, as the player builds muscle memory, they’ll start to adjust the swing, and down the road work on the stance. The same is true with sales coaching.

AI is modernizing sales coaching for managers. With data-driven insights, personalized coaching plans, and recalibrated rubrics, sales managers have powerful tools at their disposal to save them time, make informed decisions, and provide targeted coaching to address specific needs of each individual team member.

To protect your data and not put it into the public domain, it’s best to use the AI engine within your organization’s CRM system, such as Salesforce’s Einstein GPT and Microsoft’s Copilot.

Embracing AI in sales coaching leads to enhanced team performance and improved sales results. As the role of AI continues to expand in the sales domain, forward-thinking sales managers who embrace it will undoubtedly gain a competitive edge.

Headshot of Julie Thomas

Julie Thomas, president and CEO of ValueSelling Associates, is a noted speaker, consultant, and the author of ValueSelling: Driving Sales Up One Conversation at a Time and The Power of Value Selling: The Gold Standard to Drive Revenue and Create Customers for Life.