Being A Mentor – Can You Help Someone Else?


There is nothing more rewarding than helping another sales professional reach their dream of having success in reaching their goals.

It is not easy to be a sales professional, so it is really not easy being a Black sales professional attempting to sell in a tough market.  It is actually a real “gut check” because you are dealing with a difficult economy, blurred lines of product differentiation, and in some cases competing distribution systems like the web.

If you are reaching your goals consistently and feeling success, then you need to think about the impact you could have on others.  You need to reckon with the fact that you could make a true difference in the life of a sales professional that might need some guidance.

Two Types of Mentors

The Definition of Mentor -  “A trusted counselor or guide” (Webster’s Online Dictionary).

In Black Sales Journal 1/27 – Do You Need A Mentor? – Actually You Probably Need Two! I suggested that there are two types of mentors that an aspirant sales professional might need.  Of course, someone needs to fill that void.

Below is an excerpt from Black Sales Journal 1/27 describing mentoring for those who might be seeking out a mentor.

Organizational mentor – An organizational mentor is someone who is employed in your organization. This individual walks the same halls and knows the “players” and the “game” in your company. It would be good if he or she has position power (front line manager or middle manager), yet not required.  A deep knowledge of the organization and its’ politics is important.  As with the sales mentor, it would be nice if this individual were Black, yet it is more important that this individual be willing to help regardless of color.

Sales mentor – A sales mentor is someone who has been there.  This individual has prospected, sold, and closed accounts.  He or she has developed a personal sales strategy, failed, repositioned, and succeeded.  This individual’s invaluable knowledge of the sales process and the sales environment will help the Black sales professional in the areas of realistically evaluating his/her sales effort, style, and results.  As a result of pigmentation being a game changer, it would be good if this individual were Black, yet not always possible.

Can You Play One of These Roles?

So for those of you with the skills, knowledge, presence, and willingness to help, which of these roles can you play?  Can you play both?  If you fit both descriptions, you can be both, yet the important thing is to be something more than a colleague to someone.

It is a fact that the role of mentoring does take time and effort, yet it is all well spent.  If there is a sales professional who is a colleague that is working hard to figure out sales, and the organization, and your skills are there, you should step in.  You get an opportunity to help, without any definition of the role, and in the process you hone your skills as a mentor.

With this in mind, I am suggesting that you mentor someone regardless of race or ethnicity.  You will find that when you are asked professional questions, that your answers get better each and every time.  You learn to say, “I don’t know”, and you learn to coach as opposed to provide answers.  You begin to think through things when no one is asking questions, in anticipation of a question being asked at some point.

Your understanding of how to explain the organization and the sales process within the organization becomes generally stronger, and this process gets you ready for a well-defined mentoring opportunity when the time comes that you need to be prepared.

Mentoring a Black Sales Professional

Best of all, when you have the opportunity to mentor someone who has the challenges that you had when you were a fledgling sales representative, you are prepared.  You know not to give all the answers, but to coach.  To allow them to use reason, cogent thought, and sound logistics in coming up with a course of action.  You know that being able to convey an understanding of the organization and the organization’s dynamics is as required as an intimate knowledge of the sales compensation plan.

Too many aspirant sales professionals come in and desire to work the system without understanding why the system exists.  You can do your part in giving frank and enriching conversation to someone new, and give him or her a start.

A Launching Pad for Management

As was discussed in Black Sales Journal 3/24, Are You Sales Management Material? there is no better start than mentoring.  Coaching and training in terms of sales and sales techniques, or even assisting one with their understanding of the organization is a way to be in line for a manager’s position.  There is no better endorsement for the job than to be in good standing on your role, while getting credit for helping others to get results as well.

A Reason Why

Many Black sales professionals quietly leave a job when things are not going right.  What am I saying when I say ‘quietly’?  You will look around and find out that they have left the organization, and no one even knows why.   This happens when someone new feel that all of the cards are a stacked against them.

In most situations the cards are not stacked against you as much as the organization, and the sales process are frankly difficult to understand without help.  Your help can be a career changer for someone in need.

Always remember, the process of mentoring can be done no matter what the color or sex of the individual.  The important thing is to give so that others have a chance.  If you are doing it already, you should be commended.  If not, it is never too late.

Go out there and make a difference

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