There’s one type of customer that many salespeople lack on their target lists. Salespeople can work so hard at selling that they forget about creating this unique sales relationship. It’s a proven method for accelerating career success. The impact to the bottom line is huge. Statistics show the investment in this relationship returns the company’s investment at a ratio of 6:1. If you guessed the mentoring relationship does this, you’re right. Here’s how you can incorporate mentoring into your selling success.
What is mentoring today? Menttium Corp. is a nationwide mentoring company that matches mentors with mentees. The need for formalized mentoring came when the company founder, Ms. Gayle Holmes, identified the characteristics of successful people. She found they had access to continuing education, had a support system and had a mentor or mentors. Ms. Homes recognized that many companies lacked a formal process for mentoring. That’s when she established her company with its mission to facilitate mentoring. Mentoring is a sustained relationship between more experienced and less experienced people. The mentoring relationship is based on reciprocal knowledge sharing. It’s a mental investment rather than a financial one. Ms. Brenda Bonin, a director with Menttium, points out that with mentoring today the mentee drives the relationship.
Where are mentors? To find a mentor, the mentee first needs to do a critical self-analysis and identify specifically what skills are needed for career development. Saying you want to learn more about business is too vague. Identifying a need for more negotiation skills is more specific and on target. Other skills could be to learn how to ‘manage up’ and do a better job of promoting oneself while maintaining humility. Ms. Bonin points out that it is better to look for mentors who are one step away from people you know. She says, “Look for mentors in different industries and functions so you can ensure they have a different perspective from yours.”
The job description. The job description for a mentor is to be a good listener, be honest, and be committed to the process. This means making time for regular meetings. Ms. Bonin adds, “Mentors need not have all the answers, they should be able to ask a lot of questions which guide the mentee.” While the mentee sets the agenda and follows up, the relationship can develop into different ways of working together. Some mentors and mentees read books together and discuss points to implement. Other mentors have their mentee ‘shadow’ them so they show their mentee what to do rather than tell them.
It may appear that the mentee is the one who receives all the value of the relationship. Ms. Bonin reports that it truly is a benefit to both parties. Many mentors are at such a high level they lack the day-to-day contact that keeps them in touch with their true customers. Their mentees have this access and provide the information. Seeing the joy of helping someone develop new skills is especially satisfying to many mentors.
Both skills and strategies are key to drive salespeople’s success. You can work on them by yourselves, but working alone makes it hard to have all the answers in the areas you need. You need customers for your sales success. If you have a mentor for a customer, you can almost guarantee your career success.