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Common Questions and Answers
As a sales manager or business owner, you know it’s essential for sales teams to have the tools they need to be successful. Sales training gives new hires the techniques, skills, and knowledge of your sales process, ensuring everyone is on the same page.
But if your sales organization doesn’t have a sales mentorship program, you may be selling your employees short.
A sales mentorship program connects junior sales agents with senior sales reps in a mutually beneficial professional relationship. It accelerates the development of new hires, provides senior reps with leadership experience, and improves the business’ overall success.
A sales mentorship program can provide valuable benefits to both mentors and mentees. Benefits include increased job satisfaction and improved sales performance.
However, before diving in and launching a program, there are a few key considerations to keep in mind:
You want your best salespeople to be mentors for your sales mentorship program. However, being great at sales doesn’t make one great at sales mentoring. A different skill set is required.
Conduct a formal training program where mentors can learn the following mentoring competencies:
The training should include real-life mentoring scenarios to help mentors navigate the mentoring relationship effectively. Have mentors do role-playing exercises on how to handle a mentee who is overly dependent, for example.
PwC’s reverse mentoring program is part of its diversity and inclusion initiative. As mentors are junior staff, the training program includes generational and hierarchical dynamics to help mentors navigate this unique mentoring relationship.
Despite program benefits, participating in a sales mentorship program can be inconvenient for potential mentors. In addition to their workload, they must spend significant time and effort on their mentee’s development.
That’s where incentives come in. One way to incentivize your program is by factoring mentorship into promotion and remuneration decisions.
Aside from this, recognize and appreciate the work of mentors visibly. For example, hold an appreciation lunch for mentors and use it as an opportunity to get feedback about the program.
You can also reward mentors for the achievements of their mentees, e.g., if their mentee outperforms other new hires during the mentoring period.
The sales mentorship program is an invaluable opportunity to build lasting relationships between your employees. Mentors and mentees need to understand their roles and responsibilities in the partnership.
The role of the mentor is to provide guidance and support the mentee’s professional development. Mentors do this by advising and sharing first-hand experience and expertise.
For instance, they can teach mentees how to get the most out of citations when prospecting or how to send a cold email. They provide honest feedback and encourage mentees to move beyond their comfort zones.
Finally, mentors identify resources like workshops to aid the mentee’s growth.
The mentee’s role is comparatively easier – to learn as much as possible. Their responsibilities include driving the learning process by identifying learning goals, proactively scheduling meetings, asking questions and seeking feedback, and following through with commitments.
To avoid disappointments down the line, ensure mentors and mentees discuss and clarify expectations for each other during the first one-on-one conversation. Also, match mentors and mentees according to personality and career paths.
Support for mentors should not be limited to one-time training. Ongoing assistance is crucial to the success of your sales mentoring program.
Create a mentoring guide with reference materials like workbooks, sales playbooks, videos, timelines, skills checklists, etc.
Use the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, results-oriented, and time-bound) model of goal-setting to create your guide.
For example, the mentee has identified effective sales pitching as one of their learning goals. By using an action plan like the one above, both mentor and mentee can pin down and address areas of concern.
The action plan breaks down the broad goal into exact and actionable goals. ‘Improving my sales pitch’ becomes mastering sales proposal software or rehearsing client presentations.
Ensure your program serves your business goals by aligning the program’s objectives with the business’ mission. McGraw Hill designed its Women’s Initiative for Networking and Success (WINS) program around broadening business perspectives and leadership development.
Officially launch your sales mentorship program with a meeting for mentors and mentees. Use this meeting to assign and introduce mentors to mentees and answer questions about the mentorship program.
Mentors and mentees can also iron out the frequency of face-to-face meetings and discuss the mentor’s experience and the mentee’s long-term goals.
The ideal mentorship ratio is 1:1. More than four mentees will overwhelm a mentor and counteract the program’s effectiveness.
The sales manager should facilitate the conversation between mentors and mentees with prepared questions such as where do you see yourself in two years, or how do you learn best?
Then leave mentors and mentees to establish the mentoring relationship among themselves.
Establish the metrics that measure mentees’ progress. Traditional sales metrics like the number of closed deals, time to close, or deal size are helpful indicators of a mentee’s skills growth and development.
Other metrics include how long it takes mentees to reach milestones like cold calling or answering client questions independently.
With this information, you will have insight into which mentee-mentor relationship is or isn’t working and take appropriate action.
For example, during its one-year mentoring program, French company Sodexo measures the progress of its program every two months with surveys and webinars.
Be sure to get feedback from both mentors and mentees. Data collection shows what is or isn’t working, but feedback can explain why. The mentor and mentee may be misaligned.
Or the expectations of the program are too demanding. Both parties should feel comfortable raising concerns about the partnership and program. Incorporate the feedback, especially if it is a common issue.
Effective sales mentorship programs connect experienced sales professionals with newly hired sales reps in a relationship that fosters professional development.
When executed correctly, they lead to long-lasting relationships that benefit everyone involved. Mentees develop sales skills, mentors learn leadership skills, and the business retains engagement and motivated employees.
To build a strong sales mentor program, offer training and incentives. Just because top performers sell well doesn’t mean they can mentor others to do the same.
Mentoring is a big responsibility, so make it worth the mentor’s time with incentives and rewards. Define each party’s obligations to avoid disappointment and create a mentoring guide for mentors and mentees to refer to throughout the mentorship.
Launch your mentoring program officially with a meeting where mentors and mentees can get to know each other. Finally, measure the progress of mentees to see which areas need improvement. Be sure to get feedback and learn how the participants feel about your program.
With a strong sales mentorship program, you can ensure that everyone in your sales team is well-equipped to succeed, and your business can reach greater heights.
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