How do people react when you explain what you do? It’s always interesting to see whether the response is enthusiastic or politely passive.
But more than this, do people actually get it?
You know in detail what you do – and in the context of your industry it makes complete sense. But most conversations are with non-experts and your elevator pitch needs to quickly connect for them and bring you to life.
One of our core services is acting as a Sales Mentor. We know what we think that means because we provide the service. But if you’re considering working with a Sales Mentor what should you expect? And crucially, if you work with us (or even another Sales Mentor!) will your expectations be met?
Should a Sales Mentor be strategic or tactical?
Let’s get straight to the point: We think it’s both. Or as a minimum you should find someone who’s capable of both.
The parallel with this is the thousands of people who have set themselves up as “experts in social media.” Some are no doubt very good at social media – but to spend your money wisely you’ll need someone with that skill and the ability to create a broader marketing plan.
Without strategy even the best social media or sales skills will be wasted on the wrong customers.
If you’re confident in your sales plan there’s nothing wrong with acting tactically with certain customers or on specific campaigns.
But by being able to think strategically and act tactically, a good Sales Mentor will help you link your plan with sales activities that make a real difference to your results.
What’s the difference between a Sales Coach, Sales Consultant, Sales Mentor or Sales Director?
You might be thinking the strategy/tactics question is just a question of terminology.
There’s no clearly agreed definition on each of these roles – and their responsibilities overlap. This is our take:
- Sales Coach: Works with sales teams to polish their selling skills. More tactical/operational
- Sales Consultant: Advises on strategic sales issues, possibly on specific projects like a team reorganisation or a price increase
- Sales Mentor: Advises strategically and tactically on how to transform your sales capability. A combination of the two roles above
- Sales Director: Similar scope to the mentor but with additional responsibility for delivering sales results
Maybe you think the terms are interchangeable, in which case try out each one of these job titles in the blog question to see whether it changes your perspective. Let us know what you think!
Why does selling get seen as a tactic?
Most organisations are set up around a product or service and many business owners have a real passion around how this works.
Unfortunately this means sales is often considered late in the commercial process.
Even organisations that have been around a long time can fall into this trap of selling what they make, rather than making what they can sell.
Approached this way round, sales becomes tactical. It ends up being about call rates and conversions, with relentless pressure on sales teams to deliver deals.
It can work, but it can feel like a constant battle. All it takes is a change in industry health – or a savvy new competitor – and you’re left feeling like you’re off the pace. Results suffer.
How can a Sales Mentor help build a commercial strategy?
To get best value out of a Sales Mentor you should look to them for results that transform your business.
Work with them to assess what your sales capability is right now and decide where you’d like it to be in 12 months’ time.
A Sales Mentor should be able to help you make your sales operation more predictable and more efficient. And that means everyone whose job touches on the customer – not just people with the sales word in their job title!
Some of the things you might expect include:
- Better sales systems and processes, giving you more accurate business forecasts, a more reliable sales pipeline and better customer insight
- A more productive sales team, with high morale ensuring you hold onto your best people whilst delivering the big deals in your key customers
- A commercial strategy that’s ambitious yet achievable, helping you decide what channels and customers in which to invest most of your hard-won resources
Look at this scope and it’s obvious how this job is so much bigger than a tactical Sales Coach who helps your team close more sales (though they might do that too!).
How would I choose a Sales Mentor?
It’s often said that people only buy from someone they know, like and trust. Inviting someone to support you lead a business is no different. There has to be a positive human connection.
You can help the conversation by writing down a brief summary of what you think your priorities are: What’s working, what’s broken… and how do you want this person to help transform your business over the next year or so.
How will you both measure success? There’s probably more to it than just looking at the £ sales number. Perhaps you could include some sort of customer and team feedback.
A key question to consider is whether you want a Sales Mentor to be purely advisory – which leaves you to do all the legwork – or whether you’d like them to take some operational responsibility.
This is a delicate balance between cost and benefit. A part-time or “fractional” senior employee can be really good value. But to get the best value you need to prioritise exactly what they are responsible for and how they fit alongside the rest of your team.
This might be obvious, but remember you’re engaging with someone who will be taking on some of the scope of a Sales Director…. So check out their LinkedIn profile to see whether they’ve actually been one!
So is a Sales Mentor strategic or tactical?
We’ve hopefully convinced you it’s both. If you’re still not sure, why don’t you complete our Untangle Your Sales scorecard. It only takes a couple of minutes and will give you a written report outlining the strengths and opportunities in your current sales capability.