Reps Don’t Coach Their Peers Enough (and How You Can Change That)

June 21, 2019

Shawn Parrotte

If you’re in sales management, leadership, or enablement, you have to have already read our coaching ebook and blog series! If not, here’s a great breakdown for you:

We first published The MASTER Guide: How to create a coaching culture in your sales team. (No great cultures happened overnight. So we propose some pretty wide-ranging measures for you in this one.)

Then, we broke it down into its components:

Today, we add one more to the list - peer coaching.

We analyzed millions of calls, hundreds of thousands of recording playbacks, and tens of thousands of comments made on Chorus’s conversation intelligence platform.

The goal - to understand if reps coach their peers, what they coach on and where the gaps are.

There are some very interesting things the data told us. Read on!

There is Very Little Peer Coaching Going On #

We get it. Reps usually have big numbers to hit and lots of operational work to balance with actual selling time.

As a result, something will always be on the back burner. In this case, we find helping and coaching other reps is one of those activities.

Reps dont coach enough

When a rep plays a call recording on Chorus, it’s for self-improvement most of the time. That is, 50% of what they listen to are top reps’ calls so they can understand what they can do better.

40% of the calls they hear are their own calls - so they prepare for the next meeting or write a good follow-up email by revising the key moments of the last meeting.

That leaves just about 10% of playbacks that were meant to help others.

When we assessed tens of thousands of comments made in Chorus, more than half were directed at managers product management or marketing, asking for help.

80% of the other half were interactions with other sales teams e.g. a BDR leaving notes for the AE, the AE providing feedback to the BDR on a meeting they booked, or a CSM highlighting an upsell opportunity to an AE.

Very few comments made were for helping peers improve their skills.

BDR Teams Are The Best at Peer Coaching #

BDRs spent a lot more time listening to and commenting on peer calls compared to other sales teams. This can be because it takes only a few minutes to listen to another rep’s complete cold call (whereas an AE or CSM call can last a whole hour or more).

Sdr vs ae

BDRs left coaching comments on their peers’ calls almost twice as frequently as an AE or CSM.

Most Peer Coaching is Ad Hoc #

The Data Science team also tried to assess the content using which reps coached their peers. 35% of the comments made included links to other calls that gave the rep an understanding of how to respond to a question or pitch differently.

Peer coaching ad hoc

25% of comments referred them to marketing material or talk tracks that they could learn from on their own or send to the prospect.

While the above methods are good, reps also need feedback on how they did and what they could have done better. This leads to longer term improvements. Only 15% of the comments seemed like they stemmed from a programmatic coaching method where the reps were asked to assess peers on a specific topic as part of a larger organizational initiative.

So, is Peer Coaching Really Necessary? #

A report from the Association for Talent Development states that 91% of reps say learning from peers helps them be successful. Research data also shows that the average manager only devotes 30 mins a week to coach reps.

Not enough time

In such a situation, can a company continue to rely on busy managers to deliver all the coaching?

Peer coaching enables your reps to learn from each other and think critically about the conversations they are having.

It allows you to institute a coaching culture without requiring significant additional resources from your manager and enablement headcount.

Having reps review each other’s calls will also help your team think more critically on how to improve their own conversations.

Three Easy Steps to Get Reps to Coach Peers #

Step 1. Build a program around it #

Make it a part of everyone’s job to coach their peers. Some of this coaching needs to be delivered in team meetings e.g. getting everyone to share something good and an area of improvement on a film review. Some can be delivered in smaller pods (groups of 3-to-5 reps) that have the same goal e.g. selling into the same industry, region, or persona. Most of peer coaching can still be 1-on-1 with reps being tasked each week to review another rep’s calls. Hold reps accountable to review and comment on at least 4 peer calls each week. Institutionalizing peer call reviews can really impact actual results in a big way.

Step 2. Announce themes or topics for in-person peer coaching #

Sales managers or enablement can provide guidance on specific topics that the teams can focus on each week (e.g. Discovery, Competitor, Pricing). Before a team, pod, or 1-1 meeting each member of the group adds one call clip to the playlist with a comment giving context to the clip. Each group sets aside one 30-minute meeting per week early afternoon on a Friday to provide each other feedback. Each rep plays their clip for the others in their group and they discuss feedback live.

Step 3. Gamify peer coaching #

While in-person feedback is great, some of peer coaching also needs to be independent of having reps meet each other. Instead of scheduling a weekly meeting, each rep can add their call clip to a playlist and @ mention the other members of their group in it.

The other members of the team can then leave their feedback as comments directly on the call on a weekly basis. Managers or enablement can set a weekly deadline for feedback to be in by say Thursday close of business.

Once a month, have reps nominate the best peer coach. If there is a tie, use the Chorus usage report to see who has reviewed the most meetings as a tie-breaker. If you still find multiple people tied, reward them both!

Learning from peers is an integral part of a healthy coaching culture in sales. #

A lot of sales leaders like to use the term “Coaching Culture” but some of the essence of any culture include:

  • It takes a lot of effort to establish a culture
  • It has to be embraced and followed by everyone
  • It has to be sustained over a long stretch of time

So how can you make peer coaching an integral part of your coaching culture? Read more in our guide on “How to Implement a Coaching Culture in Your Sales Team”.

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