How do sales leaders show up as mentors? Some comments and questions after my last post were around this – ‘Are sales mentors any different from the conventional?‘. Hardcore sales leaders are colourful characters. The field itself is one in which the leaders literally wear their emotions on the sleeve. It is the biggest melting pot of of emotions and hence it’s a given thing that the big characters who emerge from it will be as interesting and varied.
So, I set upon putting the sales leaders I’ve seen and observed into certain behavioural boxes based on their mentoring styles. And then I realised these mentors bought their unique personality and flavour into the mix and made a fascinating impact. Which just pushed me to look at Sales Mentors with a fresh new idiom altogether.
So here we go:
The Guardian Angel: This mentor owns you like no one else. They take up your cause. Always have the time and patience for you. They are the ones who’d have seen your first spark. It’s a very special connect you have, and for them to see you grow and prosper is a huge personal validation of their own ability.
Guardian Angel mentors mostly happen early in your sales career. They play a huge role in your formative years. They ensure you learn and take personal interest. Things change and then slowly you loose touch. But you’ll realise it the moment you connect back with them that here is a person who knows the real ‘you’. Keep them around even if you think they are not important now. They are pure gold.
Tough-as-Nails : This mentor would teach you one core aspect of life in sales. ‘Nothing comes easy! If it did, it is’nt worth it’. When you ask this person about a big risk you may have to take akin to jumping into an arena infested with lions – ‘Why are you still waiting!?” is the answer you’ll get. They have a great fit of your mettle, way before you know it and they believe a soft glove approach is a waste of time. Trust me, you’d not be on their radar if they think you are’nt cut out for the gritty stuff. They don’t have many people flocking to them anyway with their terrifying image.
You become stronger, tougher and more durable with them mentoring you. What will keep you with them is their passion and the immense strength of character they infuse into you.
The God of Detail : Even if the Gods get lost in details – this mentor won’t! They will ask you a zillion questions and drive you nuts. You cannot go to them for advise without putting in a ton of homework. They are data and logic freaks and wizards at the same time. Even the most subjective decision needs to have a logical base. For them, being unprepared is a violation of integrity.
These guys push you hard to structure your thought process. You learn how to cogently put up an argument, persuasively, with facts, figures and logic. They’re also great teachers – just listening to them and getting a hang of their logic is a mind expanding process.
The ‘BC-MC’ flow :There can’t be a better description in my mind than asking you to imagine Virat Kohli as a sales mentor and your mind will capture that image. A third person observing this interaction would be repulsed. This is a unique mentor-mentee bond we see in sales. The cuss words and argumentative fights flow like a river in rush. The language is so banal at times, you wonder if its even legal! But let’s get this – the mentee totally understands that this is what he needs to fire himself up. He is totally into it and knows that he is being challenged in a different sort of way.
The BC-MC mentor ‘has a heart of gold’ the mentee will say. And mostly he does. He will fiercely support and back his ward no matter what – ‘he is my kid!‘ There is supreme loyalty in this relationship.
The Wise & Aloof : Always seem to operate from a self actualized state. The kind of mentor who appears disconnected and not bothered – but mind you, every interaction with this person will be a curve ball thrown at you to figure out. They will always question your deeper intent and very gently make you look inwards. At times, these folks seem frustrating to deal with because you may want a clear ‘go-no go’ kind of advice, and you’ll never get that from them.
But it’s the curve balls they throw at you which on deeper introspection and reflection help you to struggle, evolve and grow. And the growth that happens with this mentor is at a quantum level. Because they don’t take the horse to the pond – they just know how to make it thirsty enough and help it to find its own path.
What kind of a mentor did you have? Who are you being? It could be a mix of one or more of these characters even, or something else totally. But I think great mentorship is as much about the mentee as the mentor. If you’ve approached every sales leader with an attitude of openness and willingness to learn – you would’ve gained eventually. Always.
And for me that is at the core of mentorship. Would be great to hear your views!
Guest Author: Uday Kiran
FMCG & Mobile | Sales & Marketing | Leadership Coach | Business Storyteller
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