What are the differences between coaching, mentoring, training, and consulting?

Trainer, coach, consultant, mentor – whose support will be the most useful to your business? How do these positions differ? We present the basic differences that’ll help you choose the right kind of advice services for your company.

You browse LinkedIn, read articles, participate in courses and training, and you keep seeing all those different positions such as sales coach, sales mentor, B2B sales consultant, sales trainer. Wonder what the differences are between the services offered by people in these positions?  Imagine that you have reached a point in the development of your company where you need support or help in solving a problem that’s been troubling you. You have many options for choosing the best path of professional or personal improvement. So, whose support will be the most suitable for you?

Who’s a trainer?

A trainer is a person who conducts training courses and whose role is mainly to pass on his or her knowledge and to train, i.e., to improve the relevant skills and behavior in the trainees. Examples of things that can be learned in this way include negotiations, sales talks, time management, assertiveness, sales and first contact techniques, dispelling customer objections, obtaining recommendations, classification methods, cold calling and emailing. A trainer’s mission is to determine which competences you or your team should develop in order for positive changes to take place at the company. Next, he or she is supposed to pass on the knowledge and techniques that will be helpful in this.

When is it good to use the support of a sales trainer? When you know what to do, but lack the knowledge or skills needed to do it.  A trainer will show you how to perform a specific task, when to behave in a specific way, and will support you with his/her experience on the road to enhancement of your sales competence.

Who’s a coach?

If you need a moment’s thought, want to understand some problem or topic, learn more about yourself, visualize the ideal path of your company’s development, or determine the current state by defining where your company is at the moment – you should turn to a coach.

A coach acts as your partner who motivates you to become the superior that you want to be and to build the team you desire. He or she is like your own professional guide who helps you identify problems, challenges, set goals, and who encourages you to take appropriate actions to achieve better results. He or she won’t answer the question of “what should be done in this situation?” Nonetheless, he or she will support you in bringing out the answers and potentials hidden in you. 

Who’s a mentor?

If you want someone experienced to listen to you, if you need concrete advice on what to do, if you count on someone to tell you how they perceive your problem and what solutions they see – you should find a mentor. The role of a mentor is to share his or her experience, and to open your eyes to opportunities that you may simply not be aware of. He or she evaluates and improves your ideas for how to solve problems or develop your company – by building on his or her own professional experience.

A mentor will ask you about your challenges and will help you to determine: what you are great at as a superior, and what skills you should hone. He/she will share his/her experience and – working together with you – will develop an action plan to support you in reaching the set goal.

Who’s a consultant?

A consultant is a person who’ll thoroughly look into your company, design the changes that you need in order to achieve your business objectives, and give you an acting instruction while making sure that it’s well adapted to and can be viably applied at your company – right away.

A consultant is someone who’ll guide you via a shortcut from point A, where you are today, to point B, where you’d like to be. A consultant starts his work by very precisely determining the state of your company today, for example, how you run your processes, how you acquire customers, and how you sell. Next, he or she helps to wisely set the goal that you want to reach in the development of your organization. He or she does this based on market research and interviews with customers or employees. So, you can be sure that he or she will carefully identify your problems and ensure they’re solved in a way that’s tailored to your company.


Before you decide to use an expert’s help, think about which form of advice services and knowledge acquisition will be best suited to your business. Consider whether the changes should take place in the whole company, as is the case when working with a consultant, or whether you need, for example, an effective trainer who’ll be improving the skills of your managers through his or her work. Or maybe the best thing for you will be to work with a coach who’ll help you work out schemes in your work organization that will also change the functioning of the company. Regardless of the form you choose, the key is to pick an expert who is trustworthy, and then to consistently implement his or her recommendations.

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