Building a Mentorship Program to Fuel Professional Growth
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Fostering a culture of collaboration among reps can enable effective problem-solving, active communication, and meaningful connections. Ultimately, this helps create a sense of belonging for reps that can empower engagement and motivate personal development. Mentorship programs can be a key asset to curate this culture by providing a space to develop mutually beneficial professional relationships that can catalyze rep development.
More specifically, mentorship provides reps with the ability to develop essential skills and bridge knowledge gaps while simultaneously gaining support to grow in their roles. This ultimately pushes their career to new heights, creating a myriad of benefits for them professionally while motivating high performance in their current role.
While rewarding and result-oriented outcomes from mentorship programs are plausible for both mentors and mentees, their success is often dependent on both parties’ active contributions and positive attitudes toward the opportunity. Sales enablement can play a crucial role in developing and nurturing these relationships, allowing mentoring programs to flourish through guided support aimed at mutual growth.
Below are three strategies that enablement can incorporate when building effective mentoring programs for mentors and mentees to accelerate success.
Appeal to Fundamental Human Necessities
To inspire reps to maximize their potential and empower them to engage fully in an organization, it is essential that they feel their most foundational human needs are being supported by their career. Mentorship programs can help tend to these needs by embedding three key attributes: momentum, intrinsic motivation, and a clear path to success.
People crave momentum in their personal and professional lives as a driving force to finding passion and fulfillment. Not only does momentum allow reps to grow with an ever-changing market, it also creates ambition to develop expertise and improve performance while preventing stagnation.
One way that enablement can increase a sense of momentum through mentorship programs is by incorporating a way for mentors and mentees to recognize and reward each other for their accomplishments. For example, create a nomination form for participants to acknowledge outstanding work achieved by their mentor or mentee, or how that individual influenced their own success, and select a few shoutouts to share with the broader team on a consistent basis.
Composed of autonomy, mastery, and purpose, intrinsic motivation fosters productivity, engagement, and fulfillment. When reps feel that they have a level of control over their career progression, along with a deep understanding and a clear vision in mind, they’re able to fuel their desire to perform successfully.
Providing resources for mentors to help guide conversations around career growth and progression can help ensure that reps feel that they are getting valuable, actionable advice as a result of the program, and can also help mentors feel more prepared and qualified to support mentees in their career growth. Similarly, intentionally making the pairings based upon both the mentor and mentee’s longer-term career goals can help both parties feel more connected through purpose.
Clear Path to Success
With a rough outline of the actions needed to become successful in their roles, reps are energized to get to work. Enablement can facilitate this by including clear role definitions and structured roadmaps, and shaping mentorship pairings based on where a mentor currently is and where a mentee wants to be. This way, the mentor can be prepared to provide career coaching and guidance that draws from their unique experiences.
“We’re motivating the team by giving them foundations for mastery and success through a very clear roadmap for leveling up and providing the enablement and talent development solutions to actually get there,” said Devon McDermott, vice president of enablement and learning and development at Persado. “So, it’s the full scope of what we need to do to empower our employee success and to drive a meaningful sales culture.”
Create Space for the One-to-One Connection
While coaching can sometimes be a one-to-many process, mentoring is a one-to-one proposition. It is a fostered connection, built by mutual aspiration and maintained by resilience, prioritization, and communication.
Once a relationship is developed between a mentor and mentee, participants are encouraged to engage in consistent actions and activities to ensure that the relationship thrives. For example, clarifying expectations early on ensures that there is clear prioritization, allowing each individual to stay up-to-date with their responsibilities and come to scheduled meet-ups prepared.
In addition, encouraging pairs to meet on a regular cadence as their schedule allows helps to confirm logistics and promote consistent discourse and feedback. For example, enablement can provide some guidance on the length and frequency that pairs can meet, and suggest core topics to discuss or facilitate workshops to help provide structure without requiring too much time for reps who choose to participate.
While it is difficult to objectively measure the impact of mentoring, incorporating open communication and routine feedback into the program allows for reflection and redirection. Through open and fruitful discussion, mentors can gain insights regarding career challenges and milestones, ultimately opening up outlets for guidance.
“We need to see how we can make sure that if someone is coming into a space, they feel like they can belong and succeed,” said Michelle Silverthorn, founder and CEO of Inclusion Nation.
Strategically Pair Mentors and Mentees to Encourage Sponsorship
When mentorship partnerships are strategically crafted, they become recipes for success. By identifying the goals of the reps involved in the mentorship program and then using them to determine the type of matching, enablement can foster the most mutually beneficial relationships. For example, partnering more senior leaders with junior reps can allow new forms of learning to flourish, where more junior reps can gain career coaching and guidance from seasoned professionals and those senior leaders can gain valuable insights from the frontlines to inform their strategic thinking.
“I always start with networking with people that are more senior and less senior,” said Roderick Jefferson, vice president of field enablement at Netskope. “Why? Because you’re talking to the more seasoned folks because they’ve been there and done it, and then also the junior folks who may have inlets and outlets for new technology, for fresh new ideas, for integrations of things that you may have not even have thought of because you’ve gotten comfortable doing things the way that you’re doing it.”
Beyond mutual learning opportunities, making these strategic pairings across the hierarchical structure in a business can also lead to meaningful sponsorships in the workplace. While mentors can help guide reps through their professional development, sponsorship can take this a step further by creating avenues to help more junior employees gain more visibility for their work through advocacy. This provides a broader range of reps with a seat at the table as they are given room to uplevel their skills and challenge themselves.
“When I think of how you sponsor someone, what are the projects they have access to,” said Silverthorn. “Are you speaking up their names in rooms where their names are not being spoken? Are you sharing with them the insights to how to work with this customer or how to work with this manager, how to be successful?”
Establishing mutually beneficial mentorship relationships equally helps mentors and mentees to develop skills needed to level up without imposing a burden on productivity or workflow. Providing room for mentorship to bridge gaps and open doors to endless opportunities increases workplace engagement, ultimately impacting the health of the entire sales organization.
With effective mentorship programs for sales reps, organizations are able to develop long-lasting retention and curate skills that support the drive and determination of sales mentees and mentors alike to ultimately champion their roles and evolve with the ever-growing selling landscape.