Today’s post is by Bill Young, president and cofounder of SkillFitness. Before founding SkillFitness, Bill had more than 25 years of experience leading sales teams at IBM, Pearson, and Capella University.
Finding time to coach reps is a challenge for most sales managers.
But sometimes, the best sales coaching doesn’t come from the top. It comes from other reps on the team. It’s called peer-to-peer (P2P) coaching.
P2P coaching is the process of sales reps helping each other solve problems. These problems can range from broad sales skills such as “how to close this deal” to very specific sales process issues such as “getting my customer off credit hold.”
An important component of P2P sales coaching is that reps often are looking for answers to real-time problems they are facing now. That makes P2P coaching a form of real-time training that is relevant, useful, and sticky – something that can’t be said of many more formalized approaches.
But sales managers implementing P2P coaching programs often face several roadblocks:
- Sometimes the coaching or advice provided by peers is simply wrong or reinforces the wrong behavior – and the manager has little visibility to what is being said or has little ability to quickly correct the situation.
- This type of coaching is often ad hoc, informal, and unscheduled – which makes it difficult to track and manage…or even ensure it is happening.
- P2P coaching is difficult to scale. Opportunities for face-to-face coaching by team members are becoming rare with today’s distributed sales teams and call centers. That forces the team to use email, telephone calls, and video chats. These are all useful tools but require reps to be proactive in using them to find time in their already busy schedules for coaching their teammates.
There is a new type of sales enablement tool that helps address these issues and make P2P coaching much easier to implement and scale – video role play. Using video role play, content is provided to reps in short video snippets. Reps practice the content, record a “selfie” video of themselves, and then share that video with their manager for evaluation.
But some of these tools also allow the reps to share their selfie videos with each other to get feedback before submitting their final version to their manager. That feature turns the video role play tool into a powerful P2P coaching platform because
- Managers see the final version of the video and can step in if the rep is getting bad advice – providing the correct feedback to the rep and to those who helped coach them.
- Some of these tools come with built-in, easy-to-use learner management systems so managers can see who is engaged in asking for feedback and in providing coaching. Other platforms also offer gamification features that allow managers to reward points for participation and create leaderboards and contests to encourage engagement.
- The best tools are available on both tablets and smartphones and on both Apple iOS and Android devices as native applications – which allows for push notifications for managers and team members. Experience has shown that peer-to-peer interaction and coaching increase dramatically when team members can use their smartphones to provide coaching and feedback – mainly because smartphone push notifications and anytime, anywhere access allow reps to squeeze coaching into spare moments during their busy day.
Not all video role play platforms offer peer-to-peer sharing capabilities or are available on smartphones as native applications, so you’ll want to confirm these features with vendors you are considering. But, when armed with the right platform, you can scale your peer-to-peer sales coaching program and transform your most valuable asset – your sales team – into your most effective coaches.