4 Steps To Find a Sales Mentor
By Indeed Editorial Team
Published October 21, 2021
The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.
Sales is a field in which greater experience can lead to greater results. For young sales professionals, having a mentor can help them quickly gain the wisdom of their seniors. If you're beginning a career in sales or are interested in entering the field, understanding the function of a sales mentor and what to look for in such a relationship can help you on your path to success. In this article, we define the role of a sales mentor, explain what one can do for your career, outline the steps to find a sales mentor and discuss some tips for entering into this relationship.
Related: 14 Steps To Succeed in Sales
What is a sales mentor?
A sales mentor is an experienced sales professional who guides another by sharing knowledge and wisdom. A mentorship is often a long-term relationship with someone in the same or a similar occupation. The mentor exhibits qualities that their mentee aspires to and keeps the mentee's best interests in mind, while the mentee acknowledges the mentor's expertise. Mentors make themselves available to mentees, listening to their concerns and providing support. Without explicitly instructing the mentee on what to do, they offer advice that can help achieve desired results or educate their mentee on important matters in the sales profession.
What can a sales mentor do for your career?
Having a sales mentor can help your career by providing a number of advantages, such as:
Education and advice
A sales mentor can be an excellent source of information and guidance about the sales profession. They were once a novice or entry-level salesperson, like you, and have had a career's worth of learning on the job. Thus, they're likely to understand your concerns and be able to address them. They've made mistakes and can advise you on pitfalls to avoid. They may be especially good at providing insight and guidance on matters without clear right or wrong answers, such as handling interpersonal relationships or developing resiliency.
One of the roles of a sales mentor is to advocate for you in the workplace. During periods of triumph, they may validate your feelings of success and champion you to other senior members in your organization, helping to boost your reputation. In challenging times, they can encourage you and recommend your abilities to others.
Networking refers to the development and maintenance of professional relationships. In sales, networking can be useful for landing new clients, creating a pipeline of referrals and finding new opportunities. Because of their many years of experience, mentors are likely to have established networks of connections and clients. They can refer to their network to assist you with particularly challenging problems or even share connections with you to help establish your reputation as a sales professional.
How to find a sales mentor
If there's no formal mentorship program available to you, you can follow these steps to find a sales mentor who can support you in your career:
1. Understand your aspirations
The ideal mentor is one who embodies the qualities and position to which you aspire. Thus, a good starting point for finding the right sales mentor for you is understanding what you'd like to achieve in a sales role. Outline your career goals and the roles you hope to obtain. This can help you direct your search. For example, if you're interested in progressing in your career to a higher-level sales position, such as an account manager or sales director, you might consider looking toward people in or associated with those occupations.
2. Identify candidates
Knowing the professional characteristics of the person you'd like to learn from, you can begin to seek and identify potential candidates to be your mentor. Look both inside and outside of your workplace. Internally, learn who your seniors are and try to discover more about their achievements and qualities. Externally, you can find potential candidates at networking events, in your personal life or even on social media platforms for professionals.
Consider broadening your parameters for a mentor, as they don't have to be someone in the same professional field as you. An accomplished professional in any profession may be able to provide you with advice that can help you in your career.
3. Get to know your candidates
The success of a mentorship hinges on the chemistry between the involved parties. A successful mentor is willing to teach the mentee, the mentee is eager to learn from the mentor and both have personalities that work well together. To determine whether you're able to work well with your identified mentor candidates, make an effort to know them better. Ask whether they'd like to meet you for lunch or a casual activity outside of work. If they agree, that's one sign that they may be willing to work with you.
As you get to know the candidate better, ask a mix of professional and personal questions. You might consider asking what their ambitions were and are, how they came to enter the field of sales and what factors have been integral to their success. Ask about subjects that would matter to you in other relationships as having nonprofessional bonds can help deepen your connection. After you've gotten to know all the candidates, you can make an informed decision about who would be the best option for you.
4. Make a request
Once you've decided on the person you'd like to be your mentor, reach out to them to request their mentorship. You can make your request as an email or meet with them again to ask them in person. In your request, outline the parameters of the mentorship you're seeking. For example, if you're looking for someone you can meet with regularly for advice and conversation, tell them so. This may seem like a somewhat formal method of initiating an informal association, but it can be a meaningful and effective way to begin the relationship.
Tips for entering a sales mentorship
Consider these tips when entering a sales mentorship:
Be clear about your goals
Your goals refer to the achievements you hope to attain with the mentor's guidance. Clarifying your professional goals to your mentor can help them guide you in the way you want. For example, if your goal is to advance to a senior position in the sales profession, your mentor can provide you with insight that caters to that end.
Be honest about your expectations
It's also advisable to be forthright about your expectations from the relationship. For instance, if you're seeking a mentor who can be available to you throughout the day, tell them so beforehand. This not only expresses respect for their time and boundaries but also allows them to make an informed decision about being your mentor.
Check in regularly
A mentorship is an active relationship, requiring regular contact to flourish. Even if you don't require any advice, make sure to check in with your mentor and notify them of your career progress. If they recently gave you advice, let them know how it worked out for you. Try to ask them about updates on their end as well, showing that you value the connection you have with them.
In some cases, the mentor may be in a position to offer difficult advice or constructive criticism. Should this happen, keep in mind that they have your best interest in mind. Take the criticism with an open heart and growth mindset.
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