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5 Advantages of Peer Learning in Sales Organizations

7 min read
Updated Aug. 25, 2021
Published Jun. 19, 2018

The sharing economy isn’t exclusive to ride sharing or finding someone to walk your dog; it also applies in the workplace. Incorporating peer-to-peer training within a sales organization is a great way to utilize the resources and knowledge within a team to help improve productivity and share best practices. In fact, 73% of managers have seen a positive ROI when utilizing peer learning. Not only does it take some of the coaching responsibility off of the manager, but it promotes a workplace where sharing knowledge is encouraged.

Here are five advantages of implementing peer-to-peer learning within your sales organization.

1. Learn Across Generations

Workplaces are diverse. Employees from all walks of life, backgrounds, and generations work side by side. With 90 million millennials and 66 million baby boomers in the workplace, there’s a wealth of knowledge from which to learn and collaborate. One of the advantages of peer learning is that younger salespeople can take advantage of the experience more seasoned sellers have to offer, and vice versa.

Veteran sellers bring wisdom from decades of relationship building, project knowledge, and experiences. As a mentor, they can help guide younger members of the sales team using insights that they’ve gained throughout their career. Likewise, a younger seller might be more familiar with newer technology on the market. It’s no secret that millennials are adept at learning new technologies, which means they can help provide coaching opportunities on utilizing a variety of sales tools.

When different levels of tenure and generations can learn from each other, it helps to foster a learning culture within an organization. Whether you’ve been selling for one year or twenty, everyone can learn something from one another. Combining the vast knowledge and experience from older generations with the technology wherewithal of the younger generation makes the overall sales organization stronger.

2. Uncover Best Practices

Whether it’s a daily team meeting to share recent roadblocks or a conversation around the water cooler, learnings are most effective when shared. The knowledge and insight a sales team can learn from each other can help uncover best practices that benefit everyone. After all, everyone is in the same boat, so why not share tips for mutual success?

Salespeople often experience the same roadblocks. When one member of the team finds a solution to a common problem, it’s useful to share that information with the team. You might consider a friendly competition to help uncover best practices. For example, two sellers might create different email templates to improve response rates. At the end of a trial period, have them tally up who received the most responses. That person’s template is the “winner,” and is used moving forward. You might even recognize the winner with a special reward or privilege.

Live learning opportunities are also a great way to demonstrate how best practices work. Seeing firsthand how a peer handles certain situations illustrates how skills apply in real scenarios. Salesloft’s Live Call Studio allows peers to “ride-along” and provide feedback during a call.

68% of sales reps believe peer learning is an effective training tool, so tapping into the knowledge and experiences of peers can serve as brief, one-off training. It only takes a second to share a new idea with a colleague. These easily digestible slices of training have a big impact on overall performance, which brings us to our next point.

3. Everything is More Digestible in Small Pieces

What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time. No, I’m not encouraging eating an elephant, but I am encouraging learning to be made more accessible by breaking it down into smaller chunks.

Sales training can be an all-day affair. It often consists of sitting in the same room practicing presentations or listening to speakers. Long, monotonous training sessions are not conducive to retention. We’ve all sat in long sessions under fluorescent lights. Maintaining focus on anything for 8 hours is difficult.

Peer training is the opposite of all day sales training. It can be a quick meeting or a real-time coachable moment from the comfort of your desk. When the information is immediate and covers a specific problem, it is more easily digestible and applicable to a particular situation. Many online learning tools use this principle in their teaching methods. Instead of hour-long instructional videos, lessons are broken into 3-5 minute videos that are easy to understand and cover specific areas.

Peer training can break large, complex training concepts into digestible knowledge with real-world applications. Often, formal training can come across as a chore for a seller and make them feel disengaged. Peer learning is seen as friendly and fun since it’s with one’s colleagues in a less formal setting.

4. Saves Valuable Time for the Manager

A sales manager has many responsibilities. A study by Dr. Adam Rapp from the University of Alabama found that sales managers typically spend their time on four types of activities:

  1. managing sellers (32%)
  2. managing information (26%)
  3. direct customer interaction (23%)
  4. administrative activities (15%)

With the number of duties a sales manager must balance, peer learning helps distribute some of that coaching responsibility. This allows the manager to focus on more big picture items.

Instead of asking a manager one-off questions or for quick advice, a salesperson can turn to their peer for the solution. The time spent answering one-off questions can add up. When an issue can be quickly addressed by a peer who’s experienced a similar situation, it saves time in a manager’s day.

That doesn’t mean that a manager should stop coaching altogether. In fact, it should be an opportunity to dig a level deeper on recurring problem areas for the seller.

5. Shows the B Players How to be A Players

matthew kelly quote

It’s true that we change our behavior based upon those around us, in both our professional and personal lives. When it comes to a sales team, it’s important to surround oneself with high performers. Top performers set the pace and raise the bar for the rest of the team.

Whether it’s a middle performer with the potential to become a superstar or an under-performer working to improve their skill set, high performers motivate the rest of the team to do better. B players can reference recorded libraries of the best meetings using Conversation Intelligence. Witnessing how top performers react to different situations helps spell out how middle performers can step up their game. Think about being on a sports team and looking up to the all-stars. You tried to emulate them!

Consider it a form of positive peer pressure. Or better yet, peer production. When a team encourages and feeds off of each other’s success, performance improves. The group improvement resulting from peer-production promotes a healthy sales organization where growth is encouraged, and positive results are the standard.

The advantages of peer-to-peer learning in the workplace go beyond these five points. Creating a culture that embraces positive change and encourages sharing positions a team (and an organization) for success.

Peer training is just one resource to utilize for effective coaching. For more help developing cross-generational sales teams, check out our new eBook!

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