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AI In Sales Enablement – Clippy Reborn?

Author: James Barton

Published May 2020

In my last blog, I mentioned that we were in the process of building the first true AI platform for sales enablement called DLaaS. As is often the case, no good deed goes unpunished, and I have since been asked to give a little bit more detail about what we have in development.

 

Of course, I am not going to give away our secret sauce here, but I am very happy to talk about the principles of what we are looking to release.

Baseline principles

Firstly, let’s cover some baseline principles of today’s modern sales enablement learner…

 

  1. They aren’t interested in sitting in rooms for hours on end to get lectured
  2. They want short, focused training that brings real value
  3. They want that training live with their work… in the moment so to speak
  4. They want an experience that is tailored to them, not a sheep dip

 

In addition, let’s also remember that what we are looking to do is to focus on moving the middle 80% of sellers rather than focusing on the top or bottom 10%. The middle 80% represents where we will deliver real ROI.

So what?

Now that’s out of the way… so what?

 

If you think about what learners want, it is not hard to imagine a solution that sits alongside a seller’s current working platforms, and pops up to offer help when it detects you are doing a particular task.

 

Anyone who remembers Clippy from Microsoft office will be familiar with the concept. 

Tragically, Clippy died. RIP, goodnight sweet prince. The vision of in-the-moment training and support was killed off early.

 

But why? If the concept was right, what went wrong?

 

Let’s look back at the list at the beginning of the blog. 

 

  1. They aren’t interested in sitting in rooms for hours on end to get lectured – Clippy allowed you to get training without leaving your desk: tick.
  2. They want short, focused training that brings real value – Clippy was able to deliver very specific training about the task you were doing. Well done Clippy: tick.
  3. They want that training live with their work… in the moment so to speak – Clippy delivered his cheerful suggestions just when you were doing the task: tick (again).
  4. They want an experience that is tailored to them, not a sheep dip – Oh dear… This is where Clippy failed!

The advantage of APIs

You see, Clippy didn’t care if you were a novice or an expert; the training was the same, the suggestions were the same and the experience was the same. 

 

No matter how useful Clippy could have been, he was binned off because he was annoying.  He was annoying because he wasn’t very bright.

 

To be fair, it probably wasn’t his fault, he didn’t know what he didn’t know. Today, however, we have a significant advantage in the form of APIs.

 

APIs or Application Program Interfaces allow us to connect to other platforms and extract information from multiple sources. This in turn gives us the information we may need to be able to recommend the training or support needed by the seller based on a whole host of new metrics.

 

For example, we can see from SFDC records that the seller is strong at the beginning of the sales cycle but stumbles at negotiation. Therefore when we can see that they’re updating a negotiation record, we can provide assistance.

 

Great, but still not enough.

 

What if were also able to know that the buyer is a typical high D in DISC profile and that according to the data, he responds better to a phone call than an email? What if we knew that he typically responds better in the mornings rather than afternoons?

 

How would our training change? There’s no point giving them generic coaching here; you can be specific, direct, useful.

 

This is just one simple example (told you I wasn’t going to go into detail on the secret sauce) but I am sure you get the picture.

 

And this is where AI comes in.

Is it time?

AI is an abused term, and I get that completely. People are claiming everything is AI and it’s simply not true. However, before we start throwing the baby out with the bath water, it is still a term that people get conceptually even if it’s not technically accurate.

 

AI offers the ability to adjust output based on a massive range of inputs, and the more it does it, the better it gets at it. Inputs + actions + content (+ a little secret sauce) = Increased results.

 

This is what DLaaS is… true Digital Learning as a Service… Is it time for Return of the Clippy?

Mentor Group offer an integrated set of Digital Learning options that ensure learning drives productivity and sustainability for our clients. We package live virtual instructor led training in succinct, effective and video enabled environments together with mobile applications, that deliver on demand learning, based on our user requirements.