One thing that I do not want to repeatedly fall back on is the age card but sometimes that card is good to play because it sheds some light on the present. Late this afternoon I stopped by and visited a client that I worked with several years ago. I like to do this once in a while just to see how business is growing. While there I talked with one of the salespeople who is the top producer for the company. He generates close to one third of the sales volume for the company.
Let’s call this gentleman Ernie. He grabbed me before I left and asked me if I did any coaching. He mentioned that the owner of the company has his mentors and several salespeople who he knows in other companies have sales coaches or mentors or what have you.
For a split second I thought back to the 70’s and 80’s. Most salespeople in the 70’s and 80’s did not have coaches or mentors. The reps were on the street, making calls, dealing with customers, making plans, doing wind shield time, closing business, losing some business but generally spending their time selling. OK, I’m not going to pull the old-timer shtich, where the aged veteran says that he had it tough and no one was looking out for him. Those neanderthals need to quietly retire and go the way of the dinosaur.
The reps of the 70’s and 80’s were a bit more distant from the home office and from their sales manager. They did their thing pretty much solo and to to be perfectly honest that wasn’t necessarily the best way to go. But, in that time nobody heard of coaches or mentors. Your best mentor, then, was either another sales rep, yourself or your spouse.
If you don’t have a savvy sales manager is there anything wrong with having a coach? No, there is not. Times change. Selling today is more complex. Competition is smarter and more proactive, companies demand more of their salespeople, there are more outside distractions, customers demand more, communication comes from more diverse sources, fellow salespeople want to knock the big kahunas off the hill, owners and sales managers demand more and let’s not forget that our families need us! The beat goes goes on!
So, today, Ernie asked me if I did coaching? I asked what he meant by coaching. His answer was sort of vague but the bottom line was that Ernie needs someone to keep him focused on maintaining business, growing business, keeping his sales skills sharp and providing balance in his life. Ernie and I will end up having a business/coaching relationship. The nice part of this is that Ernie is a stellar person with his priorities straight so my job will be fairly easy.
Do you need a coach? I don’t know and that is truthful. Not every sales rep or sales manager does. Think about it though. You probably have several people in your life who can fill this role, if you need it. Sometimes, it’s nice to have another ear to listen to what goes on in the more complex world of sales.
The Final Thought: Mentor: Someone whose hindsight can become your foresight. Unknown