Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of pretty successful people talking about how much they owe their achievements to their mentors. From vice presidents of sales to sales reps to business owners, they attribute their accomplishments, at least in part, to having a mentor to guide them.
Often though, sales people who aspire to be the best don’t have anyone to help them find the way. One of the biggest reasons may be that they don’t know where to look.
Here are five tips to help you find your right sales mentor:
- Think about what you need a mentor for. The first step toward finding a good sales mentor is to think about what you’re actually hoping to gain from the relationship. Is it a sense of perspective on your career or territory, someone who can help you overcome a particularly difficult challenge you’re facing, or something else? Be clear with your objective.
- Find someone who is successful, positive, and a good listener. Look for a mentor with proven sales success, experience overcoming challenges and achieving goals that are similar to your own.
He or she should offer a sounding board for the sales and career issues you’re facing. Understanding what you’re going through will allow your mentor to give valuable input, hold you accountable to your objectives, and push you to do your very best. Your mentor is your coach and cheerleader!
- Your mentor shouldn’t be your manager. While your sales manager may fill a mentor-like role in many ways, it’s a good idea to have a separate person as your mentor. Why? Because you want to be able to speak openly. For example, you may have set a goal to sell double your quota. Your mentor can help you develop the strategy to do it, then push you to accomplish it. But your mentor won’t forecast it like your manager might. Your mentor is your confidant and strategist.
- Don’t be afraid to consider mentors from other industries or backgrounds. There’s no rule that says your mentor has to have, or have had, a similar sales job to the one you have. In fact, advice and guidance from a mentor who doesn’t work in your field could yield an entirely new perspective. Because they’re starting with a blank slate, they may be able to ask the kinds of questions that will lead you to an inspiration that you wouldn’t have found otherwise.
- It’s okay to have multiple mentors. As you consider the benefits of having a sales mentor, you may find that it’s beneficial to have more than one. For example, if you aspire to a sales executive role, a sales executive mentor would be invaluable. At the same time, if your strategy to get there is by growing alliance partner relationships for the company, having a mentor with experience there is also important. You don’t want to have so many mentors that there isn’t time to put their advice into action, but don’t be afraid to approach more than one.
A mentor can catapult your success and once you start looking, you’ll notice potential candidates all around you. Set an appointment to talk over coffee. You might be surprised at how open they are to helping, and just how much you’ll gain from the experience!
If you’re wondering how a mentor can help you accelerate your sales career, check out part 1 of this series: “To Become a Better Salesperson, Find a Mentor.”