Okay, so you’ve got a sales team that’s brimming with potential. They’ve got the power to make a real impact in your company and could someday even move up to a leadership role.
But, maybe they don’t know it yet… or maybe they are a bit stuck.
Picture your sales team like the character, Luke Skywalker in the legendary film, “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.”
Luke has Jedi powers but doesn’t know how to harness them– but once he does, he will be able to fulfill his purpose for the galaxy. (Do I sound like enough of a dork yet?)
So who helps Luke Skywalker actualize his fullest potential as a Jedi? You’ve guessed it: Yoda.
And that’s what your team needs: a Yoda; and who are the “Yodas” of the sales world? Mentors.
If you want your sales team to truly thrive, finding a senior salesperson amongst your team and assigning them to a sales mentoring role is your best bet. Proper sales training should always begin with a professional who has more experience than newer salespeople.
That’s why establishing a sales mentor program for your team is one of the most effective ways to both accelerate productivity and boost your overall sales turnover– giving your business more growth opportunities than you could have ever imagined.
What is a Sales Mentor Program?
Sales mentor programs generally help newer or younger sales reps progress in their work performance by pairing them with more experienced senior salespeople who have been around the block a few times and can give valuable insight.
These seasoned professionals will take on the role of a mentor and provide guidance using specific skills and knowledge that better equip the mentee with the skills needed to evolve in their role.
Why Your Team Needs a Good Sales Mentor Program?
As a sales leader yourself, I’m sure you know that the more support your team has, the better the results.
Not only will a solid sales mentorship program help the mentee, but its positive benefits will also reach every team member from the bottom up.
Here are some great examples of how an effective sales mentor program can make your team and business thrive:
Gain New Perspectives
Newer, younger team members have a limited perspective when it comes to your particular business, how it operates and what is expected of them.
When you have a sales mentor there to guide them, they will be able to see the company from a different lens, allowing them to get a complete picture and feel more comfortable and confident in the workplace.
Find and Retain Talent
A great sales mentor program is an excellent tool to locate your most talented team members and give them an opportunity to advance in their careers at your company.
With a sales mentor, you’ll be able to assemble your greatest salespeople into leadership roles that will keep them around for the long haul. This will only further benefit your business as you’ll have built a strong, talented team that delivers impactful results.
Sales mentoring does wonders for improving your communication with your team. Mentees can ask specific questions or express concerns with their mentors who are there to support them.
Sales mentors can then transfer this information to sales leaders such as yourself. This can provide you with valuable feedback and insight on how to improve systems and culture in the workplace to make your sales team’s experience better.
Validate the Mentor
Offering a mentorship role to one of your senior sales representatives is a great way to acknowledge their contribution to your company and express how much you value them as an employee.
Knowing that they were chosen to pass the torch of their valued expertise will make them feel validated that they are seen as an irreplaceable asset which will increase their chances of remaining loyal to the company.
Develop Entrepreneurial Mindset in the Workplace
The sales mentor has the ability to transform your salespeople into lifelong learners. They will be able to take what they’ve learned and apply it throughout their entire career.
This will promote an entrepreneurial mindset in the workplace where they are able to effectively problem solve and become more independent from sales leaders, leaving you less worried about their performance and more focused on administrative tasks.
Could your business use the advantages of a sales mentor program?
How Can You Find a Sales Mentor?
We’ve gone over what a sales mentorship program is and the amazing benefits it offers your business, but how exactly do we pick out the team members that are mentor-material?
You first need to start with knowing what qualities they should have to be an effective one.
Your potential sales mentor should be:
- Open for every conversation.
- A good listener.
- Willing to share their experiences.
- Able to guide the mentee to become self-reliant
We’ll expand more on those later in this article.
Once you’ve spotted your worthy mentor, it’s time to properly introduce and incorporate your sales mentor program with your team. You can do this by simply announcing to your team while also making sure you are setting a clear outline of the goals you have for the program so everyone’s on the same page.
To make it clear to them that they are being put into a leadership role, offer incentives to encourage them to meet their goals and reward them for their work. Announce these incentives to the team as it will generate more of your employees to pursue becoming a mentor themselves. This will make it easier for you to find more mentors in the future.
6 Best Practices of a Successful Sales Mentor Program
Having a sales mentorship program is one thing, but having a SUCCESSFUL sales mentorship program is another thing completely.
Many companies utilize sales mentor programs, sales coaching and sales training that doesn’t make a lick of a difference when you look at their sales performance or sales results.
So, let’s not be that guy (or gal). Let’s ensure your sales mentorship program works… and works damn well.
Here are some best practices to consider in creating a sales mentor program that rocks your companies socks right off.
1. Encourage the Exchange of Ideas
Mentorship is all about gaining new perspectives, and that’s not limited to just the insights of your leadership team. In fact, you could get some of your greatest ideas from the fresh minds of your newer or younger mentees.
Having someone share their ideas and experiences from an outsider’s point of view that isn’t already conditioned to how things are within your company is a significant advantage you should tap into.
Their previous experience in other companies can uncover solutions you’ve never thought of and give you a leg up on the competition.
Now, remember this is an exchange of ideas, so that is where your mentors come in to pass down the wisdom and familiarity gained from working at your company to their mentees.
No matter which side of the coin, sharing both unique perspectives creates a great counterbalance that only enhances your team’s overall performance.
2. Don’t be Restrictive on the Structure
Not everyone can learn the same way and that is something important to remember when structuring the format of your sales training programs– especially in mentorship as your mentors may also teach in different ways as well.
Sales mentor programs don’t always have to be one-on-one either. A peer or group mentoring format can be just as effective for your team depending on the subject matter or their individual strengths and weaknesses.
Researching different methods in mentoring is a great way to see what all of your options are and determine which will be most beneficial in building a dynamic and skilled sales force. You can also always get opinions from who you are designing it for– they are the ones who will be using it after all!
3. Provide a Refresher Course
Just because you’ve assigned someone the role of a mentor doesn’t mean that they’ll know everything that is required of them to effectively carry out the process.
That is why providing a refresher course will ensure all of their ducks are in a row before putting their mentee under their wing. Believe me, the last thing you want is a mentor who is giving out inaccurate information and doing more harm than good.
We recommend holding a refresher course just a few times a year. This way, you won’t need to be constantly bombarding new mentors with reviews every time they join the program. They will have already retained the knowledge through the refresher course.
These courses should be less like a one-sided information dump and more like an interactive meeting space. This is where questions are encouraged and development updates can be shared so leaders are up to date with any changes within the company to ensure everyone is on the same wavelength.
4. Recognize Your Mentors
Hard work shouldn’t go unrecognized, and that especially applies to your sales mentors.
Showing your mentors the appreciation they deserve, especially when it matters most, could make a significant difference in their performance.
Praise them publicly during a team meeting to showcase how much you value them and how others should aspire to be them. Take them aside in a one-on-one setting to personally thank them for all of their hard work and dedication. Hell, feature their accomplishments in your weekly email newsletter!
Whatever the method by which you express your gratitude, they will surely appreciate it.
If you want to double up on the good vibes, host events that celebrate the launch, midway point or completion of your sales mentor program. Shine the spotlight on your mentors and mentees and celebrate their learnings and achievements. This will establish both a sense of community within your company and around the mentorship program.
5. Match your Mentors and Mentees
Your mentors and mentees are going to be spending a lot of time together, so it’s important to do everything in your power to make sure it’s a good match.
Some businesses use surveys to identify who would make an ideal pair, others rely on software for this task while others just let them choose each other. However, there is still a chance that both parties won’t feel compatible from start to finish or work out like expected.
That being said, to avoid your mentors and mentees from feeling stuck with an incompatible match, provide a window period where they can change who they’re with. Sometimes, the chemistry just ain’t there, and they will rarely find that out within the first few meetings.
If you get word of any issues between your mentor and mentee, it’s best to separate them and pair them with other people. It isn’t productive to force anyone on another, so listen to their feedback and do your best to assign them with someone that will allow them to thrive.
6. Track and Measure the Program
Monitoring the progress of your mentorship program is pivotal to its success. Using traditional metrics such as deals closed, account value and activity generated will help you evaluate how confident your mentors and mentees are at different aspects within their job.
By asking them about these things during certain points in time, you can find out which mentorships seem promising and which ones have stalled no matter where they are in the process.
When tracking, be sure not to micromanage. You can occasionally ask your sales mentor program members at different stages how they would rate their experience and their progress.
All in all, it will give you critical insight into what is working for the program and what isn’t.
What Makes a Good Sales Mentor?
As we briefly mentioned earlier in this article, you will need to be able to spot who within your sales team has what it takes to be the mentors (Yodas) to your mentees (Luke Skywalkers).
Let’s dive deeper into the essential qualities that you should be looking out for:
Open for Every Conversation
Sales mentors should be open-minded and welcoming to their mentees, not judgemental or closed-off.
With a great sales mentor, there are no stupid questions. They provide a safe space to collaborate, share ideas and get to know each other.
After all, it’s not easy to have a mentor you know absolutely nothing about. Building a good rapport is never something you should underestimate.
Okay yes, your potential mentor is great with conversation, but are they good listeners?
It’s important for your mentees to feel heard and that they can bring up any questions or concerns that may come up along the way without feeling like their mentor could care less.
Mentors who are great listeners check in with their mentees if they are quiet, ask follow-up questions and find solutions to their problems.
Nothing is more relatable and humanizing than hearing the experiences of others.
Say your mentee has made a mistake, is a good mentor going to ridicule them for that mistake, or are they going to share how they’ve made a mistake like that before and explain how they’ve found a solution?
This will not only solve the mentee’s problem but will also reassure them that it’s totally normal to make mistakes and that they can confide in their mentor without judgment.
Guides the Mentee to Becoming Self-Reliant
This goes hand in hand with mentors sharing their own experiences because when they do that and give their solution, your mentees will be able to try again next time without relying on their mentors.
Keep in mind, in some situations, they might need to make the mistake more than once which is normal. As long as your mentors provide the tools and knowledge they need to complete their goals successfully, their trial and error process will go much smoother.
At the end of the sales mentor program, they should be equipped to take on all of their tasks with confidence– and maybe even take on a leadership role themselves!
Whether your business requires a sales mentorship program or the one that you already have could definitely use a serious makeover, this article will provide you with everything you need to hit the ground running.
Luke Skywalker couldn’t save the galaxy without Yoda showing him the way, and neither can your salespeople accomplish lead generation or successfully close sales without experienced and talented mentors– both just as equally high-stake, am I right?
At Selling Revolution, we can give you even more than just the knowledge that this article has provided.
Book a call with us today. We can help you in real-time and walk you through every step of the process in making your business as lucrative and successful as possible. It all starts with a stellar sales mentorship program that’ll help launch you in the right direction.