Mentorship relationships offer reciprocal benefits
A major part of sales training is shifting knowledge from senior members to the more junior additions to the team. Setting up a mentorship program can help complement your organization’s sales training and enablement practices. Junior sales reps can learn sales best practices and receive valuable feedback, while their more experienced peers can use the opportunity to work on their leadership abilities. Both can temporarily get their minds off the negativity associated with unsuccessful prospecting calls, and bond over the shared challenges of the sales profession. Mentorship programs thus produce symbiotic relationships, offering significant benefits for both the mentor and mentee.
Mentorship Program Checklist
1. Solidify concrete objectives and establish trust
To ensure participants start off on the right foot, sales leaders ought to remind mentors and mentees alike to articulate their objectives and discuss these goals with their partner. What kind of knowledge or skills is the mentee hoping to acquire? What are the mentor’s areas of expertise? It’s imperative that each party understands what the other seeks to accomplish through the relationship. Otherwise, conflicting expectations can get in the way of fruitful interactions.
2. Set up a regular communication schedule
Participants should make decisions about when and how often they would like to meet. They should also be sure to clarify session lengths and whether these will occur in-person or virtually. While scheduling seems easy enough, this simple task can make or break mentorship relationships. Mentors that consistently cancel scheduled sessions can shake the confidence of junior sales reps, and mentees that forget to attend can make mentors feel as if they are wasting their valuable time. Not all meetings have to be highly structured or hyper-educational. What’s important is that mentors and mentees are meeting on a regular basis and keeping sight of their goals.
3. Create a mentorship guide
While some mentor-mentee relationships will flourish on their own, it can be useful in the vast majority of cases to provide some more formal managerial guidance. One way to do this is to create a guide or playbook. The playbook can feature a list of ordered milestones that mentees can use to understand which tasks they should master first and which skills will increase in importance further down the line. Mentors can reference the playbook to organize interactions and make sure they are assisting sales reps on particular skills at the right point in time. The content in the mentorship guide can be tweaked and updated across the first couple cycles, but should remain fairly constant in the long run.
4. Provide incentives for participation
Even though participating in a mentorship program has clear and numerous benefits, team members might be reluctant to commit to additional responsibilities. But junior team members hesitant to dedicate more time to personal development are usually the ones who stand to benefit the most from involvement in a mentorship program. And ever-busy senior sales reps have a lot of wisdom to share. Team managers should therefore take measures to promote mentorship by both highlighting the mutual benefits of participation as well as by offering real incentives. Depending on what is appropriate at your organization, some incentives for involvement could include bonuses, referrals for promotions, or additional vacation days. It’s also a good idea to ask current and former mentorship participants to share their positive experiences with the team. Hearing about the benefits of the program from their peers rather than their management can go a long way in motivating skeptical team members to partake in one. Moreover, managers should work to foster a culture of respect for senior sales reps on the team. Small instances of recognition on a daily basis can make the difference when recruiting new mentors later on.
5. Use technology to your advantage
Mentors can’t always be there to answer questions during live calls. The same applies to even the most devoted flesh and blood sales coaches. Thankfully, technology can be used to fill in the cracks. Attention, an AI-powered sales training software, integrates with your team’s sales tools to provide reps with instant feedback. Additionally, helpful tips from mentorship interactions can be saved on battlecards, and this information can be quickly referenced during calls thanks to Attention’s real-time sales battlecard feature. It takes time to build strong sales reflexes, and perks like Attention’s engagement tracking help sales reps gauge when prospects are responding favorably and when it’s time to shift gears. Using technology to enhance your mentorship and sales training program will fast-track your junior reps’ growth.
6. Evaluate results
To measure the impact of mentorship on sales performance, it might be useful to compare the progress of junior sales reps who participated in mentorship versus those who only completed the mandatory training program. What do the metrics imply? What does participant feedback say about the perceived value of the program? Within the mentorship program itself, there can be a lot of variability. Outcomes can differ substantially depending on how well-matched participants were at the onset. Take notes on which pairings proved harmonious and work to understand why the interactions were so successful. In less constructive groups, ask sales reps how they think leadership can better support them in the future to improve future mentorship experiences.
Mentorship impacts lives
In conclusion, mentorship programs are valuable not only for their benefits on the professional development front, but also because they help build camaraderie and boost team morale. The relationships built can persist well beyond the end of the official program. They are a fantastic way to keep employees engaged, accountable, connected, and human — especially as our workplaces become further decentralized. With the above tips and thanks to cutting-edge tools like Attention, sales leaders can cultivate successful mentorship programs that complement your core sales training practices.