Guest post by Sahil Mansuri, CEO and Co-founder of Bravado.
Did you know that your job is one of the best-kept secrets in the 21st century? Sure you did. Why not pay it forward? For the love of sales, be a sales mentor!
Sales professionals have one of the highest paying jobs in the United States. Anybody with a good work ethic can be successful in sales. Why not spread the #saleslove this Valentine’s Day and help those that aren’t familiar with the profession find sales success?
Elevating Sales as a Profession
Despite all of the upside of a career in sales, it is rarely a college graduate’s first choice out of school. In a soon-to-be-released survey conducted by Bravado, 97% of undergraduate business students from Duke and UC Berkeley would rather go into finance, accounting, or banking than consider a career in tech sales. My wife went into banking and can verify… banking can crush your soul.
Sales has a perception problem. It’s perceived as an unethical profession reserved for extroverted, alpha “bros” that pound the phone. Those guys that do whatever it takes to close a deal.
That simply isn’t true.
This stigma wards off qualified candidates. The sales profession suffers from a lack of fresh eyes and diverse viewpoints. According to this LinkedIn report, women represent 39% of the workforce in sales. This percentage has only increased by 3% over the past decade. As you might assume, the percentage decreases as seniority increases. Only 21% of Vice Presidents in Sales are female.
So what can we do to remedy both the negative perceptions of the profession and close the gender gap? Mentorship.
The Case For Mentorship
There are 3 reasons why mentorship could be the golden ticket to changing the perception of sales and bringing gender equality to the workforce:
- Studies show that people who have a mentor are 130% more likely to hold leadership positions than those who don’t. The more female leaders in sales, the more female mentors there are available to usher the rising class of sales professionals.
- Mentorship creates a sense of inclusion, which can improve morale, reduce attrition, and increase the collective intelligence of a group.
- There is evidence to suggest that millennials planning to stay with their employer for more than five years were twice as likely to have a mentor. In a higher turnover industry like sales, that has big implications for cost savings.
There are benefits to you as a sales leader, too. Hearing different perspectives from mentees can make your own leadership more effective. Maybe you will be inspired to communicate differently with team members, be more innovate in your approach to market, or simply build a better system for keeping top talent.
Don’t just take my word for it. Melanie Whelan, CEO of the widely popular SoulCycle fitness chain, sought out a millennial mentor who she meets with monthly.
“I’ve decided that, as a newly-turned-40-year-old mother with two children who is running a company, I am not hip with what the kids are doing these days… I find things like that help me get inspired.”
It’s an Opportunity
The sad truth is that many organizations face complicated issues around diversity and inclusion – whether it be related to gender, race, or generation. These issues won’t be solved overnight, and neither will the legacy perception of the sales industry.
That said, I’m an optimist – especially on a day where I can eat SweetTarts without shame. The most important thing to remember is that mentorship is an amazing resource for anyone committing to and counting on systemic change.
Sales is one of the last true meritocracies. Today’s sales leaders have an opportunity to hire from a diverse pool of candidates and simultaneously elevate the profession of sales. Change a life, transform the sales profession, and make the workplace a more inclusive environment. When people feel like they belong and have an opportunity to build a successful career, everyone wins.
The #1 way to do this? Be a sales mentor.
This Valentine’s Day, let’s give the profession – and the future faces – of sales some love. As exceptional people champion sales and prepare its next leaders, I see a seismic shift towards more diversity and inclusion come into focus.
If you are a sales professional interested in fostering the next generation of sales leaders, sign up to mentor a college student! You can learn more here.
Change a life, transform the sales profession, and make the workplace a more inclusive environment through development and mentorship.
For more from Sahil Mansuri on the best ways to recruit a diverse salesforce of consultative seller through coaching and development, join us at Rainmaker – the sales engagement conference – March 11-13 in Atlanta! Make sure to join the Women’s Breakfast (sponsored by Bravado) while you’re at there.