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What Millennials Want From Sales Training
Wednesday, December 21, 2016
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Millennials are flooding inside sales organizations. Per the numbers, their presence is only going to increase. Millennial sales people are open, confident, willing to walk that extra mile, and upbeat. No matter how much we debate the differences between the Millennials and the other generations, there is enough evidence that this generation is taking the workforce by storm—and forcing changes in every corner of the professional world. Just like the generations that came before them, the Millennial attitude toward life and their profession has been shaped by a number of cultural factors. 

Numbers Don’t Lie 

These people born between 1980 and 2000 have already overtaken the Baby Boomers in terms of their numbers in the workforce. According to the U.S. Bureau of Statistics Project, Millennials will make up 40 percent of the workforce by 2020 and 75 percent by 2025. The Global Human Capital Trends Report 2016 describes this rise of Millennial workforce as a “demographic upheaval," which is a major force of global change in the talent landscape.

The motivation and values of the Millennial generation are way different than their preceding generations, as they no longer believe in the concept of getting a job, raising money and retiring one fine day. As a generation, Millennials want to work in areas where their contribution actually matters and where they can make a difference. They are constantly thirsty for knowledge and 95 percent of them are willing to pay for their own professional development and training. The mantra for success is no longer a great product and a simple sales training program. Millennials are demanding a change in this belief. With sales teams, markets and products constantly evolving, how can training methods remain the same?

Here’s what organizations need to do to keep up with such demands. 

Go Beyond the Classroom 

Anytime, Anywhere Learning. One in five Millennials access the internet exclusively through their mobile devices. Millennials have grown up in the presence of technology and they know how to go about learning things on their own. They want flexibility and reject the idea of a traditional classroom structure of learning which involves hours of sitting and listening to a talking head. Studies have shown that Millennials are likely to move elsewhere if their employers do not offer them any kind of learning opportunities. Learning should be fun, engaging, and easily accessible. After all, we are talking of a generation that loves exploiting the power of technology and mobile devices, and learning programs should be aligned to these wants.

Flexibility. Millennials also want flexible options, as 77 percent of them wish to have greater mobile connectivity, such as via tablets and smartphones. Since this generation interacts with information and is a sucker for flexibility and remote working, sales training sessions should go beyond boring presentations and include access to an unlimited pool of knowledge that can be accessed at any time and at any place. The sessions also need to be short and crisp, and mostly give them the resources required to get a hang of things they need to know. For example, you can create a content library on a particular topic and let the learner browse thorough it at any time of the day over the mobile device that they carry. They should be given resources so that they can seek out their own answers. 

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Provide Opportunities for On-The-Job Sales Training 

Make Tech a Part of Training. Imagine this: there is a new product update and you actually give the sales rep a chance to go through the latest features on their mobile phones before entering the meeting with a prospect. Millennials would rather harness the power of technology and learn as per their own convenience with the right guidance of learning experts than sit for unending lectures.

The scope of any kind of sales training is huge and involves constant knowledge transfer of product updates, customers, soft skills, and so forth. Such critical information needs to be disseminated in the most technology friendly way for Millennials to be able to adopt easily. For Millennials, technology is incorporated virtually in everything that they do. Long presentations will effortlessly shoo them out of organizations. They need engaging and informative content that is relevant and updated from time to time as per the latest developments. Organizations also need to incorporate the right kind of technology into their sales training to keep the learners engaged and complete the process. 

Keep It Short, Crisp, and Ongoing. Training content and accessibility matters, but it is also important to keep the sessions brief and to the point. The attention span of a human being stands at 8 seconds, which is lower than that of an average goldfish. Owing to this fact, refreshers from time to time also need to be set from time to time with ongoing training. According to TrainingIndustry.com, ongoing training has several advantages on both a personal and companywide morale and helps improve employee morale, increases job satisfaction levels among employees, increases sales, and leads to significant improvements in customer service performance for the company as a whole.

Highlight the Customer’s Point of View. Soft skills is as important in sales as product knowledge. While knowing a product in and out is definitely important to be able to answer technical questions, one also needs to know what kind of sales techniques, attitudes and skills are required to make it large in the sales world. Soft skills sessions should definitely be incorporated into sales training programs. Role plays, video responses, and questions, for example, are some ways to deepen the practical knowledge of your sales team. Bottom line: It is important to connect sales training sessions to real life scenarios. 

Make Coaching a Part of Training 

Coaching by Managers. The Millennial Compass Report, which surveyed 1293 employees in the United States, India, China, the United Kingdom, France, and Brazil, finds that Millennials are “focused on achieving through personal networks and technology, having good work-life balance and getting high levels of support from their managers.” Millennials want to see their managers as coaches and mentors, rather than just a boss that they are supposed to report to. If they think that their career goals and professional knowledge are not improving with the organization they work for, chances are high that they will not hesitate to look for another job. Managers need to play an active role in this and ensure that regular coaching is given to employees with a sense of personal and immediate attention. 

Consistent Feedback. Feedback is key for Millennials. And it is not just about giving feedback once a year, Millennials also need regular review meetings. In a recent survey reported in Fast Company, 54 percent of Millennials reported to have frequently felt their manager is unprepared to give feedback during performance reviews. It is not just the Millennial workforce, but also the managers who are unhappy with the way performance reviews are conducted. As per a survey by CEB, around 95 percent of managers are dissatisfied with the way the company forces them to conduct reviews. Organizations need to give opportunities for employees as well as managers to be able to interact seamlessly on various ongoing projects.

Measurable Goals. Millennials strive towards professional excellence and they want the bar for them to be set high. But what exactly this bar is needs to be defined by the supervisor. Managers need to set targets and benchmarks for their sales reps to follow and strive for from day 1. This will serve as a great source of motivation and help sales reps have a better idea of what exactly is expected of them and how close they are to meeting them. Instead of setting up a rigid work schedule, give your Millennial sales team specific and well-defined daily or weekly sales goals.

About the Author
Bhaswati Bhattacharyya is a product specialist at Capabiliti, a mobile-first training and engagement solution for enterprises. Passionate about economics, Bhaswati also loves storytelling. Follow her on Twitter at @Bhaswatibh. 
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