We all know it, sales people are protective over their leads, clients and techniques.
Most managers let this go on as long as targets are hit. But, if you have a team who like to work using completely opposing methods, as well as a number of new starters, 3 main issues emerge:
- Everyone is using a different language – this is damaging for your brand.
- Your new starter cannot aim for company best practice as it does not exist.
- Your team are do not know how to collaborate.
What exactly is sales mentoring?
Traditionally, mentoring is a more senior employee giving a helping hand to their protegee in the hope of increasing sales.
For the ‘official definition’ Carmin (1988) says mentoring is ‘ an interactive process occurring between individuals of differing levels of experience and expertise that incorporates interpersonal or psychosocial development, career, and/or educational development, and socialization functions into the relationship.’
So, basically, mentoring is giving employees the opportunity to reflect and discuss their sales in order to develop in all kinds of ways.
Research shows the mentoring is beneficial for all three parties involved: the protege, the mentor and the organisation (Pullins, Fine and Warren: 1996). Mentoring increases job satisfaction, earning potential and increases employee retention, all of which can result in increasing sales (Brashear, et al: 2006).
Studies have found that professions that are less supervised, such as sales, are more sensitive to the influence of mentoring (Rollins, Rutherford and Nickell: 2014).
In the light of this, if we start to socialise and acclimatise employees using a well structured mentoring programme, valuable knowledge remains in-house, and gives you a competitive advantage (Marchetti : 2005).
An outcome based salesforce will improve through an in-house mentoring programme.
4 steps to increasing sales through your mentoring programme
Step One: Find volunteers
Find volunteers for mentors and mentees. By using volunteers they will be more likely to throw themselves into the mentoring process, and when it starts to work, everyone else will want to get in on the action.
Step Two: Make Goals
The first session should always be on the mentee’s goals, what do they want to achieve, why do they want to achieve it, when should these goals be completed by?
The mentor should make sure these are reasonable and doable.
Step Three: Make a plan and STICK to it
Both parties should also book in time for mentoring to happen and STICK to it. Put it in your diary and make sure everyone knows you are busy. Too many mentoring programmes fail by other ‘things’ (sales) taking a priority.
Personal development means more sales, so I promise in the long run it will pay off.
Step Four: Reflect on change
It’s important to reflect on development as and when it is happening. It’s motivating and will encourage further development. It will also allow you to check in with the mentoring partnership and make sure it is working.
To elevate this further, contextualise the feedback. Record examples of real-life sales to allow self-reflection in a supported environment with the mentor. This encourages behaviour change and supports the feedback given by the mentor, increasing its impact.
After the mentoring period has happened, or the goal has been reached, a more in-depth reflection should take place. What have I improved, why have I improved, what can I continue to do to continue improving?
Evaluating success is the key to keeping a mentoring programme going. Making success visible encourages widespread participation in the mentoring programme.