For parents of an adolescent, peer pressure has a very negative connotation. However, from a sales person’s perspective, peer pressure can be extremely productive. The win/lose nature of sales creates a competitive environment. The ability to measure results and develop objective ranking systems only supports that notion. While striving to be the top performer is motivational, alone it isn’t sufficient to ensure long term sales success.
There is another more constructive form of peer pressure created by joining a peer group with other sales people that can have a very positive impact on your development as a sales professional. Participation comes with the challenge of growing with the group. The purpose is to improve and you have to be willing to change. The group doesn’t apply peer pressure in the normal context of forcing people to do things they might not want to do. The pressure comes from wanting to keep up with the rest of the members.
These groups can take any form. It can consist of other reps from your company or it can be professionals from other industries. While it helps to meet in person, one of the most effective groups I’ve ever worked with involved people from all over the country. We held a weekly conference call on Friday afternoons. Every member reviewed their week and got a chance to bring up account issues, highlight a topic for discussion, or share something they thought was noteworthy. A sales peer group provides many benefits. In a sales peer group, you can:
If you’re at a loss as to how to move an opportunity forward, the peer group provides a resource to explore alternatives. Sales people tend to face common problems. If you are stuck on an issue with a prospect, the chances are that one of the other members of your peer group has found a solution. They will be able to share their experiences and offer suggestions as to the best way to get your opportunity moving forward.
Many reps hate to role play. In most cases, the role play is being directed by their sales manager, and this evaluation creates anxiety. The peer group provides a safe alternative to practice your skills. By definition, every member of the group is a peer so there are no career implications related to your performance. Your peers will provide honest feedback in a constructive manner.
Benchmark Your Activity
A surprising number of small businesses do not have a defined sales process nor do they identify key sales performance metrics for their sales reps. Your peer group can help fill in this gap. By exploring how your peers are spending their time and what activities are the most productive, you can develop your own set of key performance metrics. Sharing activity levels and results will enable a rep to find the key activities needed to drive top performance.
Share Best Practices
Your peer group is an ideal source of best practice data. Learning what works for other reps can be invaluable. If one of your peers has found a new lead source that is delivering great results, a better process to identify customer needs, or an application that works well for certain types of businesses, you can immediately improve your sales results. Almost as important is the fact that your peer group members will share practices that do not work, thus allowing you to avoid wasting time and resources.
Hold Each Other Accountable
In my experience, when I bring a problem to my peer group, I am very motivated to implement the proposed solution. I feel peer pressure from this group, but the peer pressure I experience is self-imposed. It comes from the respect I have for my group. I don’t want to waste their time. Since they are investing their time to help me, I want to make sure that I work hard to implement suggested solutions. A successful group will push its members forward. If you bring a problem to the group, the group will want to know how you resolved the issue. If you continue to talk about the situation without doing anything about it, group members will press you to confront your problem and take action. You also run the risk of group members no longer investing in your growth if you have a history of not taking action.
Many small and mid-size business owners have benefited from participation in Peer Groups. Facilitating organizations such as Vistage, The Alternative Board, and CEO Focus, work with thousands of business owners around the country. The Boards offer business owners the chance to discuss current problems and explore solutions. For sales professionals, creating your own peer group provides similar benefits.
Peer groups will challenge you. They also provide a source of motivation, push you and create a healthy desire to better yourself. Whether you are a sales professional or a business owner, peer groups offer an environment to facilitate growth. Need suggestions as to where to find a group in your area or how to start one of your own? I would be happy to help. Contact me at 210-325-4004 or firstname.lastname@example.org.