MAY JUNE 2017 Training the multigenerational sales team Forward-thinking companies are using generational ﬂexibility to build high-performing sales teams BY WARREN SHIVER AND DAVID SZEN Sales skill development is an important factor in the success or failure of sales professionals and leaders. We have seen this directly with our clients, from our own experience, and in current research studies. Our experience helps us understand how deeply generational nuances impact learning and development. During our careers in sales, consulting and training, we have developed and delivered many types of training content and have coached thousands of sales professionals and leaders. During the past 25 years, we have observed tremendous change in content delivery and the ways in which people learn. We continue to teach skills to a melting pot of generations—ages ranging from between 25 and 60 years. occurs through active learning, such as simulations, case studies and sales call observations with a manager or fellow sellers. Making adjustments Learning, especially focused on sales skills, has evolved over the past 10 years. Not only have delivery options changed, but so too have learners and their expectations. “Sales skills” refers to core selling capabilities such as: • Researching customer information • Planning for and managing a territory, account or opportunity • Business or industry acumen • Effectively presenting ideas and insights • Overcoming objections • Negotiating agreements • Managing customer relationships Sellers have grown up with various learning options, which has forced companies to update their one-size-ﬁts-all training approach. For the most part, sales skills require real-time or simulated human interactions, which often demand that sellers learn skills through repetitive practice. Not surprisingly, our research shows that the most effective method of training Millennial sales professional training tips It is critical to consider whether the Millennial chose sales as a profession or if sales chose them. Understanding how the seller found their way to your sales organization will impact the way the seller learns, the depth of development they may need, and their willingness to heed the training. Most Millennials have been immersed in technology their whole lives and, as a result, may struggle with both the hard and soft skills required to be effective sellers. Hard skills are teachable qualities that can be easily measured, whereas soft skills are personality-driven attributes that are much harder to quantify. In a recent report released by PayScale, hiring managers called out “writing proﬁciency as the hard skill most commonly lacking and critical thinking/problem solving as the most commonly lacking soft skill. Public speaking and attention to detail follow for the second-most-lacking hard and soft skills, respectively.” This data is daunting, given that sales largely depends on skills like writing, presenting, communication, problem-solving and attention to detail. We have yet to meet a successful sales 6 MAY/JUNE 2017 SALES AND MARKETING .COM
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