Instant Mentor? Can someone buy experience in the form of a franchise and become an effective mentor, coach or consultant? I’m sorry to report that I come across this more and more every day. Not so surprising in this down economy with numerous layoffs, leaving many displaced people looking for a position. Often what they find is a “business opportunity” in the form of a training franchise or a canned marketing presentation representing and promoting a national spokesperson.

Webster defines mentor as “a wise and trusted counselor, a loyal advisor”. In Greek mythology, Mentor was the wise advisor of Odysseus (Ulysses). Coach is defined as “a private tutor who prepares a student as for an examination, by private tutoring, to give instruction or advice to in the capacity of a coach.” Consultant can be defined in one word, “expert.” It doesn’t mean “someone with little or no relative business experience, no formal business education and training to teach, no real expertise, but that’s O.K. if they have sufficient funds to buy a “program.” Sound familiar? It should because they’re out there, and they want your money.

I’m not saying that it’s impossible for someone who doesn’t have a successful track record in corporate or general business experience ,or specific training successes, to be a good mentor for you or your company; it’s just not very likely that the advice you get will help you as much as the money you pay for it will help them. Yet, there certainly is a need for coaches, trainers and mentors today. The problem is trying to find the right one. I’d like to offer some suggestions that may help you to find that person or consulting firm and avoid the sharks.

Try these questions with anyone representing themselves to be a consultant to you or your firm. I learned a long time ago to observe the behavior and track-record, rather than merely listen to someone trying to sell me something. Remember to “inspect what you expect”.

A Guide For Selecting The Right Mentor For You . . . And For Your Business

What is their orientation? Are they selling workshops, books or tapes. Or, are they selling customized HELP for you and your business?

How long have they been in business? (In the training / consulting industry, 10 years is long, and less than five years is a newcomer).

Do they have any experience helping people in your industry or a directly related industry?

Will they provide you with a list of references?

Is the curriculum they are teaching material they have developed, or is it a “franchised, canned program”?

Does the curriculum include specific information on incorporating the TQM and/or ISO 9000 principles into the sales process? Anything less today should be considered as ‘Jurassic.’

Since NLP is considered by most experts to be the key to developing rapport, does the curriculum offer training in NLP as related to sales or management?

What is the consultants experience with Desktop Marketing? Can they help you to incorporate today’s computer technology into your sales planning and administration?

Do they have a successful track record in business that would enable them to help you?

Do they have a formal business school education?

Will they help your employees until they “get it”?

Do they help you to analyze your sales performance?

Is there on-going personal reinforcement built in to the training?

What about the training program for your sales force? Is it results oriented, or just designed to entertain the troops and fill a time slot?

Does their curriculum include a complete system for selling? One that incorporates all related aspects of Behavior, Attitude and Techniques?

Review the teaching material. Is it written for specialists or non-specialists? Does it fit your requirements?

What is the commitment / investment in their business? Do they have a training center, or do they operate out of hotel rooms?

Other than the principal, is their full-time support staff available to you? How long will it take for you to get an answer to an important question? Are you dealing with a “one – man show”?

What is the average time it takes to see results, 90 days, 6 months, 1 year? It shouldn’t take longer than 90 days to see some meaningful, measurable results.

Are they “a product of the product?” Do they truly represent the professionalism that they talk about or is it more like a “Tin Man”, or “Glengarry, Glen Ross” sales con act. 

You shouldn’t have to settle for any one who doesn’t score a perfect “20”. If you apply these standards, you will find the right mentor for you or for your firm.

Good selling,

Dave Rothfeld