Sales calesthentics: Find a mentor

Yesterday, I got a call from my mentor.  He happened to be in the city, had a few hours between meetings, and he wanted to grab a cup of coffee.  As luck would have it, I was not too busy, and made the time to go sit down with him.  The experience was so energizing that it reminded me just how valuable having a mentor can be for a salesperson.


Salespeople, almost by definition, are very self-confident and egomaniacs.  You almost have to be – in order to deal with near constant rejection – and determine ways to overcome that rejection and/or move on from that rejection.  But because of that, it can be very difficult for a salesperson to step out of that mind-set, and learn and listen to those that may know more than him/her – or at least have more experience than him/her.


My mentor is someone that I actually hired into the company that I founded.  His role was to help me rebuild sales for our company post 9/11.  I didn’t think that we needed to hire anyone, but the VC’s were insistent that we do an executive search and find someone with serious turn-around experience to ensure that we would have success.  We instantly hit it off, and quickly we were making huge sales strides working on the accounts together.


I had been doing, in my eyes, very well in sales up until that point – with no sales training.  I also had been cultivating the accounts for years, and didn’t think that I needed anyone to help me push them over the finish line.  Its likely that I could have made those sales alone, but am I EVER greatful that the VC’s insisted on that hire.  The amount of REAL sales knowledge that I have gained through his insight is something that I never could have gained had I just  figured it out as I went along – as I had been.


The story here, is that I believe I am a natural salesperson.  I was able to sell my company idea to investors.  I was able to sell my product, from my small start-up, to huge corporations that based mission critical projects on it:  core delivery business, year 2000 migrations, etc.  However, my sales technique and strategy were never toned.  Once I melded my mind with the processes of a true professional life-time salesperson, I was able to truly accellerate and understand the value of sales.


Much of what I blog about are lessons that I heard from him and have embraced as my own and moved forward.  I email, talk, or meet with my mentor several times a year – and its very refreshing to get his perspective on challenges I am facing at that time – and to hear about his sales challenges and brainstorm together.


The message here is that while its in a salesperson’s nature to think he can solve everything himself, the fact is that it is very easy to get lost in that.  Look to your mentors, and if you don’t have one… get one..  Co-workers, former bosses, current bosses, relatives: anyone.  In weekly sales meetings, you should be discussing stalled accounts and getting peer and boss feedback on your strategies.  Its the way we all learn.  Resist the urge to be the ever important superstar salesperson that knows how to close everything and ask your mentor(s) for help.  You may be shocked at how much it revs up your sales.

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