One of the great parts about working in tech sales is that you are typically part of a team, and it’s in everyone’s best interest that all members of the team perform well. This facilitates a collective culture of winning that’s unlike many other careers. And it means you probably have more potential sales mentors than you realize.
The team environment fosters mentorship, and choosing a mentor (or several mentors) can be a crucial step in a young sales professional’s career. According to a study published on Linkedin, salespeople with mentors outperformed their mentor-less peers over the course of their careers. It’s important to choose a mentor wisely, so that you get the best guidance (and the guidance most relevant to you) as you advance in your career.
Here are four questions all young sales professional should ask when choosing a mentor:
Why have a sales mentor?
A good sales mentor will reinforce the core fundamentals of sales and explain the best practices that the best sales professionals use. They will also help you work through specific sales challenges that will arise in your career.
Their tactics and strategies will not only help you win now, but will lay the groundwork for all future wins. By consistently instilling the right fundamentals early, good mentors give you a greater chance of excelling in your sales career. This often lends to increased responsibility and a faster overall career trajectory.
Should you find a mentor inside your team or look for one outside your company?
Ideally, both. Developing a mentoring relationship with a co-worker can help you navigate company-specific challenges. These relationships also often become long-term professional relationships that will extend well beyond your current employer.
On the other hand, outside company influencers may have unique insight and offer a different perspective that can be very valuable to your career growth. If you’re contemplating moving to a different industry, having a mentor in this industry or in your company-of-choice can be very helpful.
Should you select a sales manager or a high performer as a mentor?
This depends on the stage of your career and what you want to do in your career. If you are just getting started in your sales career, picking a mentor that recently (and successfully) navigated a similar career path can often be the most valuable. As your career advances, this will change. At some point, you may feel leadership is the right avenue for you, and then you should seek the mentorship of top-performing leaders.
Should a good mentor have excellent tenure or a great track record of performance?
Sales performance is king, because experience is not always the best indicator of success. There are many sales professionals who are mid-tier performers and have excellent career tenure. That doesn’t mean they have the solid sales experiences and advice that can help you make great decisions. In addition, a lot of ambitious high performers may move from company to company if they feel it can better advance their career.
Most sales professionals have multiple mentors that help navigate different phases in their career. Trust your instincts. Also consider other attributes that can factor into mentorship, like age, personality, selling style, etc.
Most rockstar sales performers are willing to share their knowledge with those eager to follow in their footsteps. Finding a mentor is also typically a gradual process. Instead of asking, “Will you be my mentor?”, ask a sales leader if he/she will meet with you for coffee to help you with some specific questions or challenges, and see how the relationship develops from there.
Want to learn how to evaluate a good employer? Check out Sales Reps – How to Identify the Best Companies to Work for