Jim is a sales manager in a leading multinational company. His responsibilities include meeting sales targets, training and assessing the performance of new employees and reporting results to the senior management. Recently, he hired talented people from various prestigious institutions into his team. After providing 4 months of rigorous training, he expected them to perform well. But, after 3 months, Jim realized that his team is underperforming and are not reaching the sales targets. Productivity was taking a hit, and this worried Jim. He tried to find the reasons for the dismal performance of his team. After speaking to some colleagues, he understood what the problem was. Jim realized that his training was not very effective because it did not align with the profile of his sales people who belonged to Gen Y.
But, what is Gen Y? What are the typical features of a Gen-Y staff member?
- Gen-Y or the millenials were born between 1976 and 1998.
- They have grown up with technology and the Internet
- More used to “screen learning” than acquiring knowledge through books.
- Passionate about trying new things, have short attention spans and tend to get bored quickly.
So, taking the learning preferences of millennials into consideration, do you think that “traditional” sales training programs such as sales meets, conferences and workshops are adequate to train them? Have a look at these 7 winning strategies that work very well for your Gen-Y sales force!
1. Develop bite-sized modules
People belonging to the Gen-Y have shorter attention spans. Delivering content in small, bite-sized modules spanning 5 to 10 minutes will prove very effective because Gen-Y learners find short content easy to understand.
2. Deliver training on multiple formats and devices
Imagine a situation in which a salesperson needs to meet his customer. He would find it very helpful, if the features of company’s products are available in the form of an eBook which could be accessed easily on his tablet. Gen-Y people are gadget-friendly and use multiple devices – smartphones, iPads, iPhones, tablet computers and laptops. Make your courses compatible to all these devices, and modify the content based on the delivery device.
3. Impart training in the native languages of your sales people
Salespersons, distributors and service personnel are the people who generate revenue for a firm. Training them thoroughly on the firm’s products, benefits and drawbacks is necessary as this impacts the firm’s revenue. Even though English is the third most widely spoken language in the world, there are a few who find it difficult to understand.
So, if the training is imparted in the native language of the salesperson, he can understand the content better and sell the product more effectively. Translation of sales training programs into the native languages of salespeople is highly beneficial for firms spread over wide geographical locations with multilingual workforces.
4. Explore the power of collaborative learning
According to a survey done by Cisco, 71% of employed graduates and young professionals believed that corporate devices should also be used for personal use, including access to social networks. Creation of a collaborative environment by integrating social networking into sales training programs, enabling technological advancements such as Web 2.0 with wikis, discussion forums, etc. helps your sales people interact with each other and exchange ideas and information. Also, social networking websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+ etc. help them share their knowledge and experiences and can also be used to popularize the training programs.
5. Gamify the training programs
Games play a key role in informal learning. Well-designed games impart effective training in a fun-filled manner. The sales force can be motivated and trained on new products and their features through games. Games can also be used to help Gen-Y learners acquire negotiation and selling skills, very effectively.
6. Provide hands-on learning
A research conducted by the University of Chicago and Mimi Engel of Vanderbilt University proved that learners who were taught with a practical exposure outperformed those who were not. Gen-Y sales people can be trained practically through hands-on activities. With this type of learning, the learner is exposed to practical aspects of work such as selling, negotiating with customers, etc. and can apply what he has understood. Effective hands-on learning can be facilitated by the use of instructional techniques such as case-studies, scenarios and simulations. Thus, by creating a real sales environment on a virtual platform, you can engage your Gen-Y learners and enable them what they have learnt effectively.
7. Use videos to provide training
Brief videos with easy-to-understand content can be included in the sales training process. Managers and the human resource professionals have to often communicate the required information to new-hires to help the perform well, in a short span of time. Instead of ‘pooling’ all employees in a classroom and making them attend the lengthy lectures of subject-matter experts and human resource professionals, short videos can be used to convey the information effectively.
Videos can be used to cover a wide range of sales topics such as prospect discovery, presentation and communication, handling of objections, relationship building, referral management, service after sales, customer loyalty and retention etc. Short videos can be “digested” easily and quickly by the learners. Through a video platform solution, learners can easily access the video libraries. By tracking the viewer statistics, managers can track the performance of each team member individually.
Here is a short video that sheds light on some creative ways to train the Gen Y salesforce.
I hope you find this blog useful. Do share your views.