What Sales Teams Can Learn from Superheroes About Mentoring
Face time between mentors and mentees or managers and employees can be invaluable, if not critical to an individual’s success. And when an individual succeeds, so does an organization. For many companies, however, in-person mentoring isn’t always practical. Having a geographically dispersed team, whether nationally or internationally (or galactic), poses issues with logistics and budget. Many organizations are finding that video is the ideal medium for connecting with and mentoring remote team members.
For some time, mentoring via video communication was something reserved for fantastic tales in comic books and films. Superman discovered an interactive video library of sorts in his Fortress of Solitude, where he was able to interact with a hologram of his late father to learn the history of Krypton and the powers he was to master. Even self-proclaimed genius billionaire Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, referenced videos his father created for him that enabled him to build advanced iterations of his arc reactor.
The idea of interactive video serving as a conduit for mentoring is no longer fantasy, however, as technology has afforded video to serve as a valid means of communication. With the advent of innovative new platforms, managers and mentors now can rapidly share videos containing critical information on a scale that would not have been possible before due to constraints with bandwidth and data security issues, among other things. Combine this new technology with the ability to easily create videos on common mobile devices, and you have a new paradigm in mentoring.
Remote Sales Teams, the Other Superheroes
Outside of the superhero community, remote sales teams can reap the greatest benefit from video-enabled mentoring. It can be a quandary, for example, determining the best time to bring an active sales rep in from the field for face-to-face communication and training. Time out of the field for a sales rep means time not spent selling. This potential loss of revenue is not insignificant, especially when combined with the expense of hosting remote reps at a company’s headquarters. These on-site sessions also prove difficult to schedule with managers, directors, and above in order to make the visits truly meaningful. Managers may meet with their reports in group settings, where topics are covered at length and feedback is summarized at the end of the engagement. But there may be a tendency for managers to summarize content with generalities rather than giving specific point-in-time feedback.
Even at the national sales meeting, where employees are flown in from around the globe, an individual’s time is precious, between new product updates, sharing roadmaps, meeting with marketing, and so on. Unfortunately, these sessions tend to get labeled with the inelegant, albeit accurate phrase of “show up and throw up” training. Not to mention the fact that reps are likely half attentive as they’re still trying to keep in touch with customers and continue closing deals.
The Future and Peer-Based Learning
In 2017 and beyond, there is also likely to be an increased emphasis on peer-based learning as part of mentoring efforts. Many employees find that receiving feedback from peers and watching recorded pitch videos of top-performing peers are effective ways for employees to learn new content and skills. In fact, 65 percent of sales reps agree that advice from peers is more effective than more traditional corporate training. It’s much more powerful when you can enable team members to share recipes for success with one another, rather than always scheduling manager coaching sessions, which sometimes impede learning breakthroughs due to their formal nature. Not to mention the fact that managers often are farther removed from the “ground truth” compared to reps who are on the front lines with prospects every day.
Beyond Fantasy: Real-World Example of Digital Mentoring
In the pages of comic books and on the silver screen, video has given Superman the confidence to fly and Iron Man the ability to build advanced suits, but what about in our reality? At Allego, we’ve enabled several customers to use video as the foundation of their mentoring/training programs, and the results have been remarkable in terms of sales reps’ knowledge retention.
For example, one of our customers in the financial services space used the Allego mobile-video sales learning platform to create three workshops for new financial advisors. One consisted of 15 video exercises, each focused on a specific question, starting with the most basic: “What do you do?” and moving up to more sophisticated topics, such as: “How do you spark more business through your network?” The training leader created a channel of 15 videos, with an assignment on each topic. Reps then chose five exercises to complete within the timeframe, watched the corresponding video assignment, and responded by recording their own video pitch, as if in a client-facing situation, addressing a particular focus area. Once they submitted their video, the training leader, their direct mentor, and other group mentors reviewed the video and provided point-in-time feedback—including content, as well as non-verbal skills for engaging with clients—all without requiring a face-to-face meeting.
In this example, through point-in-time feedback, mentors collaborate with reps to identify any potential weaknesses and make adjustments to their pitches as necessary. Afterward, the training leader can request a second recording to determine whether the rep has adequately addressed the feedback. The result is more confident reps who can more effectively communicate their value proposition and hopefully close more deals.
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace and things that once seemed confined to the likes of The Avengers or Justice League are finding practical ways to benefit the daily work of those of us still confined (for now) to traditional jobs on Earth. Using interactive video is one of these advances that is transforming the way companies mentor their employees, wherever they happen to be physically located.
Mark Magnacca is the president and co-founder of Allego and has spent the last 15 years helping sales leaders shorten the sales cycle and distribute their best ideas faster. Prior to co-founding Allego, Magnacca founded Insight Development Group, Inc., a leading sales and presentation training firm specializing in the financial services industry. As a former financial advisor, Magnacca brings a unique perspective to the world of consultative selling. He is a graduate of Babson College.