Formalized mentoring, as of right now, is a practice typically reserved for diversity and leadership development. But it shouldn’t be. Mentoring is a tool that can be used for all departments within an organization – with sales being the most ideal of candidates. Here are a few of the reasons why:
1. Salespeople are often young and inexperienced
Salespeople are often recent grads, which also means they are young and inexperienced. One way to ensure that you never get the most out of a recent grad is to essentially abandon them. A few will rise, most will fall. A formal mentoring program can filter first time salespeople through the learning process and toward becoming great mentors themselves – creating a perpetual cycle of improved learning, retention, and knowledge transfer. This is the type of secret sauce sales organizations spend millions of dollars trying to find.
2. Salespeople need an objective and unbiased coach
Sales teams typically have strong hierarchical structures with obvious and rigid tiers of support. Sure, junior salespeople have team leads, who report to a VP of sales, who then reports to the CEO, but is this the way to get the most out of salespeople? Who is coaching or mentoring these salespeople through their careers?
Team leads always have skin in the game, and their teams know that. Inherently, they cannot be an unbiased mentor. They also rarely have the time to engage in anything that resembles mentoring. Salespeople need someone outside of their sales team to speak to, voice their frustrations to, and learn from – someone who can offer their time, and offer truly objective feedback and suggestions.
3. Salespeople need advice and moral support
Sales is a tough gig; mainly because it is up-and-down and cyclical in nature. One week you’re a hero, the next you’re considering retiring. No matter how long you’re in sales, when you are having a dry spell, it is horrible. Salespeople need advice and support during these phases. One of the major reasons people don’t enjoy sales and eventually quit is because the pressure is too great. A great way to vent pressure is to talk to someone who is willing to listen, a person who can ease a poor performing salesperson off the ledge and back on the right, rational path.
4. You are wasting valuable experience and knowledge
If you don’t have an internal mentoring program, you are suffocating potentially valuable knowledge exchange. Organizations have a number of successful senior salespeople who can offer incredible advice, tips and know-how to younger salespeople. Salespeople tend to operate in silos, because they are busy people. Sales leaders rarely sit down with junior salespeople to discuss how to be successful. Breaking down the silos and connecting salespeople of different quality and experience through mentoring is a prerequisite for getting anywhere near the potential out of your team.
5. Salespeople benefit from a goal-setting mentality
Goal setting is an integral part of mentoring, and it is also an integral part of achieving sales targets. Providing sales personnel with a mentor who can not only coach them through their sales and professional goals, but also help them set and achieve their personal goals creates great synergy. Aligning an employee’s personal endeavors with their career and sales efforts will ensure both facets of their life are optimized.
These are only five of the reasons. Salespeople and sales teams can benefit in a number of other ways from a formal mentoring program. While there will be the select few people in any organization who are highlighted as being prospective sales leaders and therefore given mentoring like treatment, the majority of salespeople are being left to their own accord at a massive cost to sales oriented organizations.
Embedding a mentoring culture into your organization is a feasible way to get 5 percent more effort and performance out of your salespeople; to reduce employee turnover by 5 percent; and to ensure your people are constantly engaged and developing. These are incredibly large numbers and phenomenal outcomes when compounded over thousands of calls, emails, and many years. Mentoring makes these numbers achievable, which makes mentoring a great return on investment.
Lance Hodgson is the marketing manager and mentoring evangelist for Mentorloop, the cloud-based mentoring platform that makes starting or enhancing a mentoring program simple and effective.