Mentors for Salespeople – You Find Them Everywhere!

I had an opportunity to watch Deborah Penta, CEO of PENTA Communications and the founder of Female Leadership Interest Council (FLIC) interview Gloria Steinem.  When Deborah asked Gloria who her mentors were she said that some of her mentors were “momentary mentors”, people she met on the street, people whose books she read, even people who inspired her.  It’s a different way of looking at mentors and it got me thinking about some of the momentary mentors in my sales and consulting career, as opposed to the more official mentors I’ve had over time. So as we approach the holiday I’d like to thank:

I’d like to begin with Deborah Penta, my wife, who has had more positive impact on me than anyone.  I thank her for continually demonstrating that if you can think it, you can do it.  She is amazing at that.  She has shown me the importance of being philanthropic and compassionate, although I have a long way to go in the compassion department.  She has shown me how sometimes, even perfection is a good thing and that you can do and be many things, all great, without having to settle for being good at one thing.   And she repeatedly told me that if you treat people the right way, make them feel special and hold first-class events they will be more loyal, more appreciative and grow your business through word of mouth. She was right.

Stuart Morris-Hipkins, a client of mine, for strongly suggesting that Objective Management Group (OMG) should have a presence around the world.  We had lunch at the former Naked Fish in Westboro, MA three years ago and today OMG has sales development experts representing us in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, The Netherlands, Hungary, Lebanon, Egypt, England, Ireland, and Switzerland.

Seth Godin, author of several best-selling books, whose Blog sets the benchmark for quality writing, substance, audience and frequency of posts.

Verne Harnish, CEO of Gazelles and the author of Mastering the Rockefeller Habits, whose one-page Strategic Plan and daily huddle have changed how we do business and what we focus on.  We’ve been in the same room together only three times but our conversations have been mutually motivating.

Dan  Millman, author of The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, whose book taught me how to stay in the moment (most of the time). The lunch we shared in Lenox, MA last January provided quite a spiritual lift.  During my first phone conversation with him, back in 2001, helped me complete my first book, Mindless Selling, by understanding that writing the book was a process, not an event.  Patience was something I didn’t have owenership of in 2001.

Tony Cole, OMG’s sales development expert in Cincinnati, whose young son suffered a heart-attack several years ago.  When he came out of his coma, Anthony Jr. had serious brain damage to overcome and continues to overcome that today.  Tony’s perspective, positive attitude and ability to handle such a tragedy put my trivial problems in perspective and showed me how to keep on keepin’ on in spite of things that could get you distracted.

Tom Schaff, OMG’s sales development expert in Chicago, who taught me that when you give the right people a second chance they will reward you for your faith in them.

Gerry Weinberg, OMG’s sales development expert in Detroit, who instilled in me the importance of showing our sales development experts ways in which they can grow their business, rather than providing only product and sales training.

Al Strauss, OMG’s sales development expert in Cleveland, who showed me that just because I grew tired of conducting training in 1995 after ten years, not everyone does.  Al’s love of training prevented me from spreading my experience/belief to others.

John Hirth, OMG’s sales development expert in Chicago, who showed me that if you did the work, people would come to hear me speak.  Lots of them.

Terry Slattery, OMG’s sales development expert in Minneapolis, who showed me the importance of journaling, bravery and the impact of a good story.

Steve Taback, OMG’s sales development expert in Hartford, who showed me the importance of long-lasting friendships, newsletters (the blog is a newsletter on steroids), a support group (our first support group consisted of only the two of us) and professional sounding board.

Al Turrisi, OMG’s sales development expert in New Jersey, who showed me that there is a place for metaphysical knowledge in business.

Ed Kleinman, OMG’s Channel Director, for showing me that it is reasonable to expect someone to do as you say (his motto is “I’m on it.”), that you can find employees who will work as hard as you, and that nothing beats relentless customer service.

Mike Angelini, OMG’s corporate counsel, and Chairman at Bowditch & Dewey for showing me how best to make contributions on a board and for planting the seed that grew into my last book, Baseline Selling.

Lou Ciavarra, the Managing Partner at OMG’s law firm, Bowditch & Dewey, for showing me how much more he knew about the origins of my industry than I thought I knew.  Lou taught me the importance of researching a subject thoroughly.

Jim Sasena, the Director of Operations at OMG who showed me that our ability to create or enhance a product was not limited to what I had the ability do, but limited only to what we were capable of imagining.

Rick Cayer, my partner at OMG, who has repeatedly shown me how quickly one can recover and bounce back from disappointment. He also showed me the power of tolerance as he accompanied me each week over two years while I learned to hack at a golf ball which, incidentally, was the only thing that wasn’t moving.

Matt Hogan, my partner at OMG, who is a constant example of what it means to act presidential.

Rick Roberge, who took me out on my very first sales call 34 years ago. He taught me that selling could be fun and profitable.

I’m sure I omitted people who had a lasting impact and for that I apologize.  I’m amazed that I was able to identify even 22 in the short time it took to write this.

Who has been a momentary mentor to you?  How many lasting impressions can you pass on to your salespeople?  What are some of them?  Can you contribute some of those lessons here?