The Future of Sales: Through a (Virtual) Looking Glass

September 10, 2018

by Danielle Becker

“I can’t just walk out on someone while I’m training them,” Chad confessed to Dr. Bahaa Gameel, an assistant professor at the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg (USF-SP). “But maybe we could program the different reactions prospects make during a pitch into a simulation.”

This is innovation at work and just one of the exchanges Chad Nuss — our innovation guru and CRO — had, living up to the hype presented during one of our Monday editorial team meetings. He announced that we had an exciting week ahead of us, which had amounted to that week (and office) jam-packed with several big-wigs of our clients, local educators and students, and client reps training in our Academy. Chad immediately picked up on my enthusiasm for the educational groups and assigned me to write about our visitor from USF-SP.

Confused and intrigued, I needed to know more.

I presumed the visitor would be from the College of Business–after all, we are in the business of sales innovation. But as it turned out, our guest Bahaa Gameel is from the Department of Journalism and Digital Communication. “Journalism,” I thought, perplexed. I was not expecting him to say that nor what ensued. Dr. Gameel came to discuss his new course at USF on VR Storytelling. Virtual Reality Storytelling, what does that have to do with sales or Inside Out? Confused and intrigued, I needed to know more. But mainly, how does Dr. Gameel’s new course relate to sales innovation and what are the possibilities for utilizing VR in the business world?

Having a simulated prospective client walk out after a trainee has made the wrong move during a sales pitch could be a very conducive and entertaining approach

For the way we conduct B2B sales, VR and VR-storytelling may not be directly applicable, just yet. However, with today’s technology, it does have the potential to enhance meetings, conferences, presentations, and training material. In his explanation of VR and its current capabilities, Dr. Gameel had revealed that it can recognize and measure facial expressions and reactions. Chad’s remark at the start of the article came shortly afterwards, when we were discussing with Dr. Gameel how we could use VR to enhance authenticity and engagement in training and development programs. For example, having a simulated prospective client walk out after a trainee has made the wrong move during a sales pitch could be a very conducive and entertaining approach to learning effective sales techniques.

Chad had won a potential student intern and I had witnessed  innovation at work.

By the end of the meeting, Chad had won a potential student intern — who would help produce and design state of the art training material — and I had witnessed innovation at work. I had thought that innovation needed to start with a problem to solve or something to fix. But sometimes just embracing opportunities, even without a means to an end, can inspire you to think outside-the-box and ultimately, lead to innovation.

Danielle Becker (author), Chad Nuss (CRO), Dr. Bahaa Gameel (USF-SP) Photo Credit: Dana Bulkenstein

How do you think VR could enhance your life or career?