We received some great feedback last week to our questions about management vs. mentoring.
We asked salespeople, “If you could ask your company for one resource that would help you sell more/better tomorrow, what would it be?”
The responses to this question concentrated on a number of different topics.
Mentoring – A number of salespeople responded that while sales meetings and training are fine, they wish they could spend more time with mentors whom they could observe in action, or whom they could go to for questions. Several said they were hired, given the employee manual and some basic training, then hit the street without the benefit of the coaching and mentoring we talked about in our last columns.
Goals – Others said their company relies more on setting goals and then having “pep talks” talking about meeting them, without discussing how.
Administration, or lack thereof – There were a few answers that expressed the need for well-scheduled and planned sales meetings, not just meeting and talking, with systems for qualifying leads, administrative processing, etc. It is interesting . . . qualification of leads is now becoming a very powerful science due to the Internet, and companies who are doing it “the same old way,” are going to be left in the dust over time. Thank you for pointing this out and we will cover it specifically in a future column.
We also asked sales managers, “As a sales manager, what is one thing you do in terms of mentoring that your salespeople appreciate and moves the productivity needle?”
The majority of responses said the most valuable thing they can do is spend time with their salespeople . . . not so much in formal sales or training meetings, but one-on-one in settings where both sides can relax and talk about the highest leverage opportunities a salesperson has to improve and grow.
A number of managers like to make some calls with their salespeople and discuss, not criticize, the pros and cons of the meetings. Some simply try to teach their employees what they have learned to become top producers in their own rights.
The word, “nuance” was used a lot, which is a great word to emphasize our point about mentoring. Formal training covers (or should cover) the big stuff. But sales, as an art form, involves endless variations of human relations as well as subtle communications texture and color. Almost like the production of an outstanding film, like, say, The Godfather, when we watch it for the first time, we may be deeply moved, although we may not know why. When we watch it again, we begin to notice deeper details in, say, lighting, script or character action that, combined, make the deep impressions we are experiencing. These are the production nuances, in my opinion, that are best passed on, personally, from master craftsman to protégé, in any art form. And that is why the best sales managers are also gifted mentors.