Skills Training with Immersive Simulations

A powerful new approach to skills training and reinforcement.

If computers can play chess better than world-class chess masters… And drive cars better than experienced drivers…

Can a computer play the roles of customer and coach and teach Sales Conversation Skills better than most sales trainers & managers? We believe the answer is… yes!

ZEHREN♦FRIEDMAN has partnered with SIMmersion to bring powerful and immersive computer role-play simulations to our skills training and reinforcement programs.

Our skills training relies heavily on role-plays (typically audio or video recorded), critique from experienced instructors, feedback from peers and managers, and playback from recordings. We are big believers in role-plays for skill building and we use role playing and the critique/ feedback process in every format we can think of, including virtual.  

But let’s face some ugly facts: Role-playing has it’s challenges and imperfections as a learning device. 

In selling skills role-plays, for example, the quality of learning for the person playing the Seller role is heavily dependent on how effectively a colleague in the seminar plays the role of Buyer.  We work hard to provide good guidance to role-play Buyers, and some Buyers, of course, do an excellent job in the seminar. But some don’t provide their colleagues in the seminar a very good learning/skill-building experience.  Sometimes a colleague will be good at playing the customer role but not particularly good at providing feedback and critique. (Picture a less experienced participant critiquing the efforts of an older, more experienced colleague.)

Let’s face some ugly facts: Role-playing has it’s challenges and imperfections as a learning device. 

Some participants (fewer than half, I fear) make good use of the recordings we leave with them.  But the recordings are static.  They simply show you what you did well and not so well; they don’t give you the opportunity to try it again.  And if you did want to try it again, the person who played your customer is probably not available to you.   

Then there’s the cost factor. A client teased us recently with this very legitimate gripe:  “It’s bad enough that I have to pay you high-priced consultants. But when I bring people together for a seminar I spend more money on airline tickets, hotel rooms, steak dinners and wine than I do on actually training people. Plus, they’re away from their customers for two days. Classroom training is too expensive.” 

These imperfections and challenges to the learning process are overcome by SIMmersion’s  online, totally interactive, dynamic, role-play with a human buyer, as portrayed by a professional actor, and scripted by experts in the arts of persuasion and motivational interviewing.  

Here’s How SIMmersion's Immersive Simulations Work…

SIMmersion developed ground-breaking technology to deliver effective communication simulations to learners of all kinds.

SIMmersion’s powerful simulations run on the PeopleSIM™ Conversation Engine which uses unique technology to simulate real people in difficult conversations. There are three major components to PeopleSim:

  • Character Brains where authentic emotions and personalities power lifelike interactions
  • Dynamic Player Pathways where player choices create fluid conversational structure
  • Conditional Response Lottery where dynamic response weights generate realistic exchanges

The training model is simple enough: acquire knowledge, apply skills, refine with feedback. There are teachable moments everywhere in the system—it supports independent learning styles.

SIMmersion role-players control how they progress through their learning experience. Players are more engaged because they navigate freely through topics to focus on the areas of prime interest to them. Small, concise blocks of focused information make learning easy and convenient without compromising depth or coverage. 

Skills are acquired through authentic conversations that provide real-life experience without real-life consequences. It's learning by doing but without fear of judgment and without the high stakes of real life. Skill-building requires lots of good practice. The PeopleSim engine makes repeated practice meaningful, since no conversation ever plays the same way twice. And adjustable difficulty levels can increase the challenge for even tougher training.

In the real world, we use all kinds of feedback to refine our behavior and communication style. So, too, SIMmersion provides similarly detailed feedback from multiple channels. In the simulations, players engage with professional actors who embed all of the subtle nuances of tone, expression, and nonverbal communication into the characters’ responses, creating a rich role-playing experience. The simulations also feature “SIMmantha,” a built-in coach who offers non-verbal cues to cheer on successes and flag mistakes. She also provides on-demand insights into every statement and character response, supporting players with hints and suggestions for improvement. Her feedback is directly connected to each system’s educational content, providing players with a cohesive learning experience. At any time during or after the simulation, players may review color-coded transcripts for detailed, critical review. And a granular after-action review provides players with quantitative scoring and detailed qualitative feedback on the specifics of their performance. The system tracks fine details of performance during the conversation and reports it back in a highly customized way to help players know where to focus next.

SIMmersion’s immersive simulations overcome many of the typical challenges and imperfections that accompany role-plays and brings a whole new dimension to skills training. These simulations bring a powerful new dynamic to our classroom and take reinforcement opportunities to a whole new level. Contact us to discuss the challenges your people face and how ZEHREN♦FRIEDMAN skills training now powered by SIMmersion role-play simulations can help them sell, negotiate, present and influence much more effectively.