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Coaching vs. Mentoring

2 min readJanuary 20, 2021

Too often I see sales coaching fall into one of two categories:

  1. strategizing and game-planning sales opportunities
  2. coaching the mechanics of sales

New tools and apps support this orientation. AI-powered call recording and analysis tools are a good example.

They’re useful tools for managers to use to coach the mechanics of selling. “Say this, not that.”

This often reflects how managers perceive coaching: “Do this, not that.”

If coaching has become about the mechanics, then what do you call the process of creating and implementing a personalized success path for each person you manage?

I call that mentoring. It’s about the person. And, it’s missing in action.

I can hear the complaints. “I don’t have time to coach. How can I fit in mentoring?”

Our job as managers is to help our sellers become the best version of themselves possible. That’s how they achieve their own greatness.

It’s only through our people that we achieve our own goals.

If you aren’t mentoring, you’re under-performing. (Even if you’re over quota.)

Mentoring starts with the manager developing an actual understanding of the people in their charge. What their hopes, dreams, challenges and concerns are. What inspires them. What their internal motivations are. What and who they want to be in their careers. And then advising and guiding them along their journey of personal and professional development.

Here’s a useful framework for managers to visualize their responsibilities. I’ve simplified the roles:

  • Manager = Organization & Process
  • Coach = Opportunities & Mechanics
  • Mentor = People

If you have to prioritize one of these, start with the people. They’re not an abstraction. Understand them. Know them. Help them.

Without them, you’re nothing.

Follow Andy on LinkedIn.