18 Ways to Create Foolproof Sales Training for Your Millennials
Millennials are rocking the sales world, big time. We love their boldness, their spirit, and their eagerness to participate. Fortunately, these young and energetic team members are also savvy, successful sellers who want to learn, in their own style: collaborative, congenial, and competitive.
But they can also be a little, well, unpredictable, sending managers scrambling — they want answers now, they’re bored with traditional sales training methods, and even though they seem like angels one minute watch out for that wrecking ball!
Because these superheroes will dominate our sales universe before you know it, we’ve compiled this field guide to special qualities that all mangers need to be aware of:
- CHILL workplace: They want a chill workplace that feeds their soul, their work-life balance, and encourages new friendships. Millennials are not interested in paying their dues —93% say they want more than a paycheck; they want a job that works with their lifestyle.
- Just ask Siri: In today’s search-driven, quick response, high-pressure, digital and social sales 2.0 environment, managers feel like they are channeling Siri — and it’s not fun! The Millennial generation — who make up the vast majority of new hires — wants your answers delivered to their inbox NOW.
- Tell me WHY: They are known as Generation WHY because they crave understanding. They need to smell it, taste it, touch it, feel it, and understand every reason why it works and why it doesn’t.
- Emotional wrecking ball: Just like Miley Cyrus, who traded her squeaky clean image and brought in her wrecking ball, Millennials can be emotionally unpredictable. They tend to share TMI and also have the wackiest things happening in their lives that spill out into the workplace.
- Fear of being kicked off the island: They learned about life from TV shows like Survivor, The Bachelor, The Real World, American Idol, and The Apprentice, so they’re afraid of getting kicked off the island. They are uber-hard on themselves, mistake feedback for rejection, and need to learn the real meaning behind customers’ objections.
- Always job hunting? Millennials will hold up to 11 jobs by the time they are 38 years old — but that doesn’t mean they will work for 38 different companies and should be treated as “disposable workers.” They have staying power. According to Hireology’s Inside the Mind of Millennial Job Seeker, they WILL STAY longer if they are engaged and kept busy. .
- Boot camps are boring (zzzzzzzz): The days of spending weeks in training are gone. Today’s talent learns best when companies design games, skits, costumes, thumping music, and a limbo bar to make the onboarding process FUN.
- What’s next? Millennials are hungry for new activities and that keep them engaged. In the training world, that means you must vary the learning method from partnering to break-outs to standing up and writing on the whiteboards.
- Micro-coaching: Today’s Talent 2.0 is watching every step you make, and they want you to reciprocate — they love attention, and they want yours. Millennials don’t need help with the dailies as much as they need help with strategy, ideas, techniques, and tips: 61% of Millennials say they need specific directions from their boss to do their best work.
- How am I doing? Millennials thrive on regular — constant — feedback. They want to always know where they stand and are hungry for reinforcement. They always look for acknowledgment, which helps them learn and retain information.
- And the Winner is . . . They thrive on team spirit and competition where there is a winner, because they approach selling as a video game that they can #win. The rules are the same: it must be challenging, it requires endurance and tenacity, it’s competitive, and it rewards their accomplishments.
- Rewards & Prizes: They look for recognition. They want to know where they stand and get rewarded for it. But be warned: They are bored by Starbucks gift cards, and they are bare bones when it comes to owning anything. For them, it’s all about access, not possession. Much better: gift certificates to Netflix, Amazon, AmEx.
- Public Displays of FUN: Talent 2.0 always wants to know where they stand, and they love visual displays of recognition such as mental and emotional swag. It’s time to spark up your Sales Boards and TV Sales Monitors. Outings encourage team building. Think about BBQs, wine tastings, even F1 racing.
- Play room! Taking short breaks is important because it allows your team time to recharge. Some companies provide play rooms with foosball tables, shuffleboard, and darts where workers can actively take their mind off work.
- Snap-it: Training must be very visual — they need Facebook, Instagram, and video validation. They grew up with their lives heavily documented on video, photographs, scrapbooks, and they are part of the “quantified self” generation. Forget tons of data and reading — training must include the visual bling component.
- They defy authority: Hierarchies don’t exist for them Their parents wanted to be their “peer-ent,” so they grew up believing they were equals with authority. They rather trust their peers than authority figures. Sales Millennials break the barriers when it comes to hierarchy, and they place more value on their workplace being fun and social. Company-sponsored happy hours have replaced meetings.
- Meet my “roomies:” Many Millennials are sitting on huge school loans. They want you to provide a comfortable home — that is, a fun place to work where they can bring their friends, who are their fellow team members. Maybe they’ll never move out of the comfortable “home” you built for them.
- Always ON: The need to be “ON” all the time is a reality, but not a good one considering today’s multiple mobile devices. This is serious: 60% of workplace distractions come from email and social networking, and 14% of workers say they will tune out a meeting to tweet or update their status on a social network.
Josiane Feigon is the founder and CEO of TeleSmart Communications. A twenty-year veteran of the industry, Josiane is recognized as one of the world's leading experts on inside sales team and manager talent, providing consulting, coaching and training solutions for hundreds of Fortune 1000 companies, including Cisco, EMC, Autodesk, Citrix Online, and VeriSign. Her book Smart Selling on the ...
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