In Current Marketplace, New Virtual Sales Training Helps Business Address Knowledge and Skills Gap

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Old sales methods rarely work in today’s rapidly changing marketplace. To address gaps in knowledge and skills, SIMmersion has developed new sales techniques based on extensive influencing research and a new training system utilizing proven skill-building technology.

Salesperson Talking to Dan Williams

Salesperson Talking to Dan Williams

Research shows that typical training is not effective

Businesses large and small depend on salespeople to bring products to the marketplace. Gaps in skills and knowledge, however, leave many salespeople employing outdated methods, with high costs for their employers. The 1-3% success rate for cold calling cited by Duct Tape Marketing, for instance, means a vast amount of staff time spent facing unproductive rejection.

To meet the needs of the next generation of sales people, SIMmersion developed new sales techniques and launched a virtual training system called Supportive Selling with Dan Williams.

Next-Generation Sales Techniques
In today’s marketplace, customers can easily go online to conduct their own research on products, services and the reputations of companies. A sales approach that depends on listing features or making claims is less and less effective for the contemporary, informed customer.

To develop next-generation sales techniques, SIMmersion began with the best existing sales research and then added relevant approaches from healthcare counseling and other fields where influencing the behavior of others is critical. The result is a method called Supportive Selling, which gives salespeople a clear structure to every sales call and specific Tools for Selling to employ moment-to-moment within the conversation.

Next-Generation Training
To succeed with Supportive Selling, salespeople need knowledge of what to do and the skills to put the model into practice. SIMmersion leveraged a dozen years of virtual reality simulation technology to create a training system, Supportive Selling with Dan Williams, that would address gaps in knowledge and skills alike.

“The field is crowded with companies trying to meet the sales training demand,” says Dale Olsen, Ph. D., President of SIMmersion. “Research shows that typical training, such as lectures complemented with classroom role plays, are expensive and are not very effective.”

By contrast, so-called ‘serious games’ that combine the engagement factor of video games with rigorous training content have demonstrated results in fields across the economy. As a past finalist in the International Serious Games Showcase and Challenge, SIMmersion brought to bear its experience at combining instruction and entertainment when creating a virtual conversation with the buyer Dan Williams.

Users talk with Dan in an effort to sell him several training products. They receive ongoing feedback on their decisions from an on-screen coach who reinforces good choices and gives constructive feedback on where to improve. At the end of each conversation, users see how much simulated commission they earned versus a global leaderboard of other Supportive Selling users. Achievements are awarded for accomplishments during the conversation. “Each play through of Supportive Selling will be an entirely new experience,” says Dr. Olsen. “Users can talk to Dan as many times as they would like to improve their scores and their skills.”

New Technology Introduced
SIMmersion is known for simulated characters with realistic emotions, powered by the PeopleSim conversation engine. For this system, PeopleSim was augmented to allow Dan Williams to have two separate trains of thought at once: how he feels about the specific product the user is describing, and how he feels about the user overall.

Dan decides whether or not he is interested in a particular product based his needs and what the user says when talking to him. The user’s comments affect Dan’s desire for the product. At the same time, the user’s comments across all topics help Dan form an overall opinion of the user as the conversation progress. Dan may like the user’s product, but not the user, or just the opposite. For him to commit to move forward with a sale, Dan’s overall opinion about the user must be positive and he must like one or more of the user’s products.

Technology that will address the skills and knowledge gap of salespeople can result in more successful sales calls, with ramifications for businesses of any size. SIMmersion’s Supportive Selling with Dan Williams is an innovative training entry in an important marketplace.

About SIMmersion
SIMmersion’s mission is to train communication skills faster and more effectively by combining the world's most realistic simulated experiences with highly interactive training content and extensive user feedback. For more information, visit or contact SIMmersion online or call 443-283-2555.

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Dale Olsen
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since: 07/2012
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