The Sales Engagement Podcast
The Sales Engagement Podcast

Episode · 1 year ago

The Power of Mentorship


We all need mentors.

Whether you think you’re okay going it alone or not, the truth is that every person would benefit from a mentor. And not just a mentor, but a mentor from within their industry. The question is, how do you go about finding one?

Finding a new mentor can be a lot like blind dating. It’s not really something that you want to just grab out of a hat. It takes time, effort, patience, and in some cases, a lot of trial and error before you find the right one. But one thing remains true: A solid mentorship can do wonders for your career.


On this episode of The Sales Engagement podcast, we talk with Helena Wood. Helena is the VP of Marketing at ZenCargo and joined the show to talk all about:

- The importance of finding a mentor within your industry

- How to go about establishing a mentor/mentee relationship

- Building the courage to reach out to a mentor

- The guiding principles to keep in mind when looking for a mentor

- Three qualities that make up a strong mentorship

For more engaging sales conversations, subscribe to The Sales Engagement Podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or on our website.

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Welcome to the sales engagement podcast. This podcast is brought to you by outreach, the leading sales engagement platform, and they just launched outreach on outreach, the place to learn how outreach well does outreach? Learn how the team follows up with every lead in record time after virtual events and turns them into revenue. You can also see how outreach runs account based plays, manages reps and so much more using their own sales engagement platform. Everything is backed by data pulled from outreach processes and customer base. When you're done, you'll be able to do it as good as they do. Head to outreach Doo on outreach to see what they have going on. Now let's get into today's episode. Welcome all the sales engagement podcast. We had Keitlin Kelly today, senior manager of sales development outreach in the Ama region, also co founder of STRs anonymous. I am the host over here, based out of London, and today's episode will be focused on the power of mentorship and really around career development. We have Helena Wood, VP of marketing over at Zen cargo, joining us today. Hello, Helena, hi caitlin thrill to be here. Really happy to be talking about mentorship, something I care and awful lot about. I am excited to dive into this and not only talk about mentorship and how to kind of progress within your career, especially as a female here, but also talk about feedback culture and how this has helped in really build a circular approach to how you run your business over as Zen cargo, to ensure that not only are your people teams excelling, but also product feedback is looped into this as well. Yeah. Absolutely. I think the whole system is so connected by culture. There's no way that you can get mentorship, there's no way we can support development unless everything comes back to a really strong feedback culture. Yeah, definitely. So we had shouted a couple weeks ago and what I'd love to do to kind of kick off the conversation today is understand kind of your experience and you've been in sales for just under ten years now and you've got to work in a lot of hypergrowth companies. Can you tell us a little bit about basically about your previous experience and your path to vp? Of course I can. I've had a quite a mixed experience where I've been in and around sales throughout my career, which, I think now that I've ended up so soledly in the marketing camp, has really helped me sort of understand exactly what we are really trying to drive as marketers. So my career started with a small start up at the time could pre seat. Thank you. I recognize them know as dext. They have an accounting platform that helps people manage expenses and payments and when I started I was an intern. I'd first just moved to London, I'd finished my degree and after spending a few weeks making cups of teas and writing an email newsletter, I was asked by one of the founders to step into a sort of entry level sales position and I was demoing the product and there was me and one other amazing girl, a sales leader and I have called an Ella, and we work together on really building out what the sales process would look like with our crro. I really fantastic mentor at that point and through my career with receipt band covers with some just over six years I worked through the ranks of the initial sales position leading a sort of new business sales team, taking that team global. So really thinking about how to establish process and make sure we have a lot of ability to train and develop great people. And as we were approaching our series be and we kind of realized we probably needed to feel our growth with a bit more marketing, I started doing that and partnership with the sales role I was looking at and I then was went toward by an amazing marketing leader. So he later came to c Mo of business and I used to spend I spent a lot a year and a half basically getting on a flight, going over foot to Washington for two days chatting about marketing and then coming back to London to do it. And after that I stepped into a global head of marketing position under that Se Cmo, which helped me really understand, you know,... to look at and think about growing and leading marketing teams. After my amazing experience a receipt bank which after me, I got a little bit bored. At the end of six and a half years. I've gone through a couple of cycles of the whole marketing journey and went on to an amazing business called intum, who have a marketplace for clinical supply. So they help people find doctors and I was in a commercial director position there. So at that point I was looking not only at marketing but also sales and customer success, which was a really great opportunity to think holistically about the whole growth and the whole revenue journey in a business that was really growing very quickly. So whereas receipt ban could gone from seed funding all the way up to series see, at the point that I was working with them land to revery specifically in their prev journey. So they were trying to get to that kind of more proof of concept, ready to scale phase. And now I'm at sand cargo. I've been in San cargo since January this year, so almost ten months, and in that time I've been obviously focus on marketing. My position is you be marketing but working incredibly closely with what we describe as our growth teams, that's str sales, marketing customer success, and thinking not only about how to expand my own team and marketing strategy. There's just one sort of very frass old person at the beginning of the year, so we've had a lot of work to do there, but really thinking about how all the different organizations in growth can work together to build a really strong culture or not only our leaders working together, but also were role modeling for our teams to do great things, because I think when you're in a fast growing on business that's super ambitious, the only way you're going to get the growth who need is by facilitating, you know, development for every single person that you have and really setting them up for success. And that's what I really care about, what I'm sort of leading teams. That's what kind of guts me out of bed in the morning. I love that. I think that is, I one of the biggest things that you just mentioned. There is no making sure of the culture within your leaders that it starts there. You guys are kind of studying the tone of the example and it's going to just funnel down into your individual teams from then on moving forward. Oh, completely, like there's everything starts at home and you know, even though I've absolutely loved every opportunity of out of my career journey, I've seen the example sometimes where there's leadership and certain functions that's not necessarily living the culture that they're trying to facilitate or drive in their teams and, frankly, you know, I think this kind of a lesson we maybe all learned in the starshop space. If we're not prepared to rule model for our teams, if we're not prepared to kind of rule our sleeves that up and get right in downe trenches, why would we expect or someone else right? No, definitely. So you should chat a little bit there about your mentorships and how this really picked off for you back as an intern and it kind of how those relationships developed into potential leaders that you've been followed onto different opportunities as well in or able to learn from. How would you if someone was looking to kind of find a mentor in the industry that they are in? Where would you kind of direct them to kind of carve this out? How would you kind of advise them to go about this in looking for a mentor? So I think the first thing I would advise people to do is actually to look for a mentor. And it sounds really obvious, but actually, if I look back on my career development, I have to admit that I was probably lucky and reactive rather than very proactive. So I in a few cases ended up in situations where I was receiving mentorship from amazing people that I probably haven't proactively got out and sort of looked and sought, but really he's working with those people helped me grow so much faster than I would have done on my own. So, you know, for anyone that's thinking about growing their career, for anyone that's super ambitious, being afraid to look for a mentor step one, and I just going to want to make that point because I think a lot of people aren't even aware it's something they can do, particularly people who are in new in their career, particularly when they're trying to find their feet. I think we often are nervous to ask for help. We can feel very exposed when we asked for help or we worry that other people might not have time or might not be interested, and the reality is often just so different. So, firstly, look for a mentor. Secondly, start close to home. So often when we're in growing businesses, there may be people in our teams, around our teams or...

...completely different functions who've done something that you think is cool. Or maybe you're something in common. It might be that you drink the same craft beer, maybe you went to the same university. I think mentorship can often start really close to home and getting like close to someone, of being able to build a relationship where you feel safe or you don't mind asking questions that might expose the fact that you're a little bit stuck or you feel like you're making mistakes. It's really important and I think when you're first testing the waters of building those relationships, starting close to home is really important and I think as you grow in your career and hopefully your confidence and maybe your rule as well, that's a time to start thinking more broadly about the best place to people to help you with the problems that you were trying to solve today, and that's where there are amazing networks that you can start to tap into and you know, maybe you do need to be a bit courageous and go to someone that you super, you know you really admire, and just see what happened. So I'm part of the what was the London revenue collective? Is and pavilion amazing to just sort of reach out to people there and ask for help. I think something I've sort of done as I've prepely lurked and stopped certain people on Linkedin watch their careers growing and when I feel like I'm a point where I might have a question they've sort of probably answered in the past. What's wrong with sending out a message and asking someone for help? You be amazed how often people are willing to jump onto calls. So for anyone looking, be aware if people are in the same space as you, try and find a community where you can ask for help. Listening to podcast like this is a great place to find people and then just be really unafraid. What's the hours that's going to happen? They might say no, but you probably looked really brave for asking. Yeah, and I definitely I think that's like people always love to help people, so it's just having the courage to ask for it. Yeah, you'd men in there. That is so true. Is Some, especially people earlier in their career, they don't know about the bet wish their opportunities maybe that lie within a metterr and so it's just, you know, being curious and just reached out to people that are either on the curature directory that you want to imitate or are, you know, are in the field, field their industry that you're looking to learn more about, that you can leverage their resources or insights on totally and be greedy. I mean there's nothing we talked about mentors. If everyone's going to have one person, it's like your sort of career soul mate who's going to coach you through the you know where. I think we all you know, the more curious we can be in the more people that we can ask questions of, particularly is our careers change and our needs changeing. I kind of sometimes think of myself as a bit of a like Collaptimania, I could looking for people to help because we deal with different challenges every day and businesses that grew really quickly. So, you know, I would just encourage people to constantly look and if you've chat someone and maybe you don't think there are more conversations to be house, that's cool. You probably learn something. Go and find something else. Yeah, I know, definitely, and I think that's another point right there, is it doesn't have to be this like soul mentor that you're with like forever. Like one of the things that I always look at and like always encourage a lot of my reps as well. As you know, it's okay to change it up every six months or when you need to, depending on where your growth is and where what you're looking to lean into to develop es. Actually, yeah, agreed. I think the only the only thing that I would say to anyone looking for mentors, particularly people who are kind of going about it the first time, is this is a time to take accountability, to really own your own development. So, you know, I think I've had conversations be C I meant or a few people were sometimes someone turns off on a call with a bit of a kind of so where you're going to help me approach? And I think when you're all outside of the complish you as a mentor, it's nothing you can do. So as long as yourself aware and you really have a sense of how you're wanting to grow, where you want to help. Maybe you've got questions that you need to ask, however you want to structure it, but this is a time to take ownership of your growth and come in with some purpose, and I think that's where, you know, just starting by reflecting on yourself, being aware you want to find a mentor thinking about why is super important. That is a perfect seg when my next question, which you know you are a mentory yourselves and you have some menties that you guide and lead. What would you say are like three key things that really make for a strong mentorship? What works... If somebody was looking to be that meanty, what would you advise them to do to prepare for this relationship? I mean, it will obviously depend on the people you're talking about. For me, step one is I absolutely have to feel like I know that person. You know, I'm very, very motivated by empathy. I really care about the people that I act as a mentor for and we will probably spend our first couple of calls chatting about you, your life, your hobbies, where you live, what you eat for dinner, whatever it is, because for me it's really important to try and board build a sort of emotional bond. But I you know, the more invested I am, the more I want to help the individual and I hope for the Mente's I work with, the more they might trust me and feel safe in the conversations were having and then able to bring stuff that's really really bothering them. That number one, I think. The other thing I then tries make sure we have really structure conversations and without being preachy or a lectury, I don't as send people away with homework, but actually we are there for a purpose and making sure that if we have had a conversation about particular scenario or particular challenge that the menties experiencing, let's pick it up again, let's keep talking often. You know, I what's that? A lot of people that I mentor because there's a constant dialog around. You know, how is that situation involving? Are you taking the steps that we spoke about? And I kind of want to make sure that the people I'm working with her taking accountability for that as well. I can't be bothered telling the same conversation ten times over. It's not always it's not good you SP anyone's time. Yeah, so building relationship, having a little bit of structure and, I think being don't know what the third is, just probably not dying too many bounds around the conversation. If I think about some of the areas where I'd ask my own mentors for help, some of them have been very, very tactical. Work specific scenarios. I'm running this marketing campaign, how can I optimize it? I'm hiring in my team, wat should I look for in this particular role? But also I've leent on mentors for cultural situations in the companies I'm working for. Guidance on how to work with stakeholders, guidance on how to communicate with customers in a different market. You know, the spectrum of questions you can ask and where you can look for help, I think is really, really broad. So trying not to be limited as being important as well. Yeah, I think that is that I so true, because you never know where the conversation could go. And earlier on you also mentioned don you know, take ownership of your own development and have kind of a purpose behind it. So make sure if you are swing up, ready to invest in it as much as you're asking the other person to invest their time into it as well. Exactly, exactly, all right. So you know, being a female in sales, and you as well, if there was a female that's just getting started out on her career, and I know you're very passionate about development and making sure the people are mentoring and have the right support in place. Where would you suggest that they seek out in mentor or any guiding principles that they should keep in mind when looking for one? Think the guiding principles be spoken about being afraid, shop around, do your research, and I frankly don't think this is advice only applies to women in sales, but I think sometimes as women in the sales environment it can feel harder. Particularly depends on the business that you're working in. But in terms of the range of successful people who maybe have kind of an apart to calls made it, we know that there are fewer crows in the industry, for example. It's a more limited pool. But also I would encourage women just to go out and chat other women, chat boys that they think you're doing well. Don't limit your conversations and if you are able to join one of the communities that are right there. For example, there's Los of amazing sty our communities. There are lots if you really specifically want to be in the community community. That's kind of gals only you can do that. The great thing is to our clubs out there now and look con social social media beyond Linkedin's well also, I'm sure you've had lots of conversations about how linkedin has become our sort of number one two, particularly over the last two years. Some having an embarrassing conversation with friends yesterday about the fact is the tool we all use more than instagram or tick tock or facebook or anything like that. But yeah, you know, there are also communities wherever you want to hang out, you know. So I'm embarrassingly maybe use tick tock by a...

...lot and you would be amazed how many leadership conversations are taking place on a forum like tick talk, and that's a great place to them reach out right. I think I'm another form that just gave a mind. There is twitter. There's so much for makes on twitter as well. There is sometimes we get this tunnel vision and we're all on the thinked in, but there's other there's other avenues that we can leverage to so exactly, and I think in particular, like something I talked a lot about. As leaders, we bring our whole cells to our work and also, you know, our work impacts our whole cells. So when we need help or a Meuni guidance, why would we look only in that one place where we live really specifically in our work life, which is linkedin? So if twitter as your platform, get on there. If it's Instagram, get on there. Some people are really into you know, also to different tools and podcasts are also amazing. All right, fantastic. So we kind of covered a lot there. Within mentorships, which I love when I kind of switch it over to feedback altering really what this means for you and your team over at Zen cargo. Can you kind of explain this brand the people stairpoint, as well as that products their point. Yeah, so I think I mean a feedback culture is so important and it can cover so many different elements of the work that we do. So for me, I was lucky enough to work with an amazing coach when I was early in my career and one of the things that she specialized in was helping people develop feedback cultures. So I first got close to this when I was actually working as a sales leader with str style teams. We didn't call on that at the time. That was the same thing and we used a whole load of really fantastic feedback training based a little bit on the whole kin of Kimscott radical candor framework. And then there's another fantastic book which is called thanks for the feedback, which helps people recognize, firstly, that they have a human response and a reaction to feedback and it's okay to feel stuff when someone when someone gives you feedback in to think about how best to manage yourself in a feedback conversation to then get into the right pout space to actually implement the feedback. And it also coaches people on how to deliver feedback to people in a way that is going to resonate with that individual. So if it's about having a conversation about how someone best receives feedback or making sure you're creating the right setting or giving giving them right framework. So for us the feedback culture started there and we then we're using feedback to do collaries. So all our calls were reported, we would have conversations for after listening to someone's call, to str to give on another feedback. And then we expand that beyond the business. So product managers would listen to us, to our calls, and everyone was kind of working cross functionally to do that. And what we then did is we sort of stall so some of those principles of the feedback culture and brought them into other parts of the business that had other things that we could feedback on. So, for example, in marketing, and this is something we do it as in cargo today, we have a regular retrospectives where we look at specific things that we've done as a marketing team. So maybe we've run a campaign, for example. We want you launch and run events quite a lot. So we might sit down look at that event. We will bring in cross functional players, so some of our stakeholders from sales, from customers success even from wider, you know, further across the business, like product I'm all get together and more look at the particular activity and we'll think about what's gone well but maybe didn't go so well. How could we do better? And the hope is, you know, we've created a formal setting there. But by creating that formal setting you do a few different things. You said the example, you build relationship that bridges for people that might not normally have worked together start having conversations, and you also normalize giving an implementing feedback. And the thing that, you know, I hope happens, and I kind of know happens because I see it, is those people are then slacking each other on a regular basis looking for the opportunity to give feedback. You know, if we think about within the marketing world, product marketing, which is such a a sort of sup put the central kind of who love marketing as it was, has a chance to g give feedback and receive feedback from product teams, from other GTM teams like sales, that...

...might work with strategic teams in the business where some finance for specific you know, by role modeling. You know, what start off is actually quite formal feedback processes. You then start to sow the seeds of just more casual peep back popping around the business and that's, I think, what what's helped us and what I saw definitely work very well and my past experience. Yeah, I know that is that is amazing. I think a lot of people are trying to find that that dynamic between the sales the marketing teams. How can you ensure that they are communicating and really working in DNA so that you guys can scales rapidly as you have been? I love the idea that you have just mentioned there. Even for like your steer call reviews, you guys are bringing in like the product team just to provide feedback there. That is like. That is I really like that because it gives a different Lens than what the ASTR team or sales teem and seeing and you can just pick up something very intangible that you could then put in the practice there well and it's amazing because then also maybe it's a product manager has been on the call. They learned something about a customer. You know, I think often across the wider business we underestimate the volume of sales calls, your strs and our bdms or on the kind of like cool face of conversations with customers on a daily basis, and it's so valuable to be able to work with them and actually find out what's coming back crows and boards, whereas you might have other subject subject matter of experts across the business who consider time with that let's say SDR and sort of saying, oh well, it's really interesting. Did you ask this question or I'm surprised you didn't talk about this amazing feature of that our product has had you thought about how it ties to their circumstances, like it really helps everyone's that have brought in their their thought really and the conversations are having. I love that. So when you guys really starting to implement this at Zen cargo, how long would you say it took for, you know, the conversations to start happy happening kind of naturally on their own and for this kind of be second nature? If other sales leaders were looking to internet kind of the same thing. What does that timeline look like? I don't think they've done in full cyclists on cargo yet. So I think you know, maybe we started really trying to do this in earnest, probably beginning of q two and as end of q three now. So takes a while, and that's not that the conversations aren't happening, but the things that take the longest or helping people get really comfortable and then making sure this become second nature. So if I think about when we've done this in the past, maybe a receipt bank. There were a few things that made this quicker. So I'd say it probably took about three months to really become that's a lie. Maybe four to six months to really become standard practice in the culture. And there was massive leadership alignment and investment from the GETGO. So we invest in the training. We brought someone external to train every single person in the business, New People, you know, because of course business is like ours, grow really quickly. So every month people holding a new people went through the exact same training and their first month. So there was a repeated cave dance. Is that training and then what we also did is be ensured that every team had structures and processes in place to facilitate feedback conversations beyond sales. So, as I said, we started SDR to str then we go and other people to sales calls. Then we were getting other people to think about well, within my function or my area of expertise, where is there the opportunity to have a feedback conversation? And the reality is it's literally everywhere. And you know, by the end, I think the thing was really fantastic and this kind of evolved world of a feedback culture is people were having conversations where they were giving feedback on their feedback for I love that. So I think that was just like a really awesome way of showing how much we cared about it as a business and writing. That's how it became ingrained in our culture. Okay, fantastic. That as awesome. Well, thank you so much, hell enough, for sharing your insights on not only mekership but also had to create a feedback cultures that all teams are working together. Lastly, I'm one more question for you and I'm not going to let use the book that you mentioned earlier. I believe was. Thanks for the feedback. Was the button. If you had to recommend one more book that or it could be a podcast that had a big impact on our professional development. What would that be? An impact my professional development? I am completely obsessed with Chris Wal Christamong...

Gen podcast at the moment and I think I bore everyone in the company was Sunday those snippets on a weekly basis. They probably didn't think I learned anywhere else, but that's a fantastic podcast. Dave Gerhart also has a fantastic podcast in a patreon group. Push people might want to subscribe to a their marketers who are trying to learn. But if I think about really early on in my career when I was trying to kind of work out this weird space that's fast green businesses and startups and scale ups and thinking about what it meant to be a leader, the hard things about hard things was a really fantastic book that I found incredibly powerful. All right, fantastic. So the hard thing about hard things is the butt and teach. It is right lovely. Well, thank you so much for your time today. Any of our listeners wanted to connect with you and chat. whereould be the best place for them to reach you. Best Place to reach me is on Linkedin. I'm easy to find. It's Helena Wood and from saying cargo and please get in touch. I'm always really, really happy to chat to an. An oven was also in the luncheon revenue collective community. We can get in touch there, all right. Thank you so much. How a fantastic afternoon everyone, fight thanks, Kaitlyn. Take care. This was another episode of the sales engagement podcast. To help this get in front of more eyes and ears, please leave us a shining five star review. Join US at sales engagementcom for new episodes. Resources in the book on sales engagement to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy. Make sure to check out outreach, that I oh, the leading sales engagement platform. See you on the next episode.

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