Mentoring Upside-Down

By June 18, 2010E-Rep

Success in sales, as a professional or at any level of management, requires a habit of continuous, lifelong learning.  As a long-time advocate and (mostly) consistent practitioner of that philosophy, I try to stay alert for unexpected sources of new knowledge.

Frankly, it never occurred to me look for business tips from the Associate Conductor of the Cobb Symphony Orchestra.  Picture a twenty-something guy who spent his college days getting Bachelors and Masters degrees in music, and then two years “herding all the cats” for our local youth symphony.  What on earth could John Concklin possibly teach a grizzled veteran like me about sales or business?

“You need a mentor.  I’ll do it.”

That’s what this character said to me during a discussion about video recording a few rehearsals of the kids to post on YouTube as one component of a promotion strategy to sell an album he plans to produce for fund-raising.  FaceBook, texting, Twitter, blog posts, an instant messaging campaign, podcasts, mp3, mp4, downloads from iTunes, a hook to PayPal including a “Donate A Little Extra” button, automatic updates of the accounting system and a laundry list of other web 2.0, social media stuff came flowing out of his mouth.  “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” I say.  “Have you seen how tight our budget is?”

That prompted one those polite, yet “are-you-stupid?” looks from John.  He explained that none of it would cost anything.  We already had all the recording equipment.  All the software and systems were open-source and free.  Except for 5 or 6 hours of editing and set-up time, the labor would all be provided by the kids, their friends and their parents.  He’s convinced they’ll get it to go “local-viral.”

So here’s the point.

I, (and you, my cohorts in sales) need a mentor to lead and coach me/us about efficiently and effectively applying social technology to help move more deals through the funnel faster.  For this stuff, the mentor thing needs to be turned upside down.  Today’s young professionals not only grew up with the technology, they’re also now familiar with the business world.  If you’re older like me, find a young, smart mentor like John.  If you’re young and smart like John, offer to mentor an old horse like me.

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