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Modern Approach

TrainMilsSpring2016Evolving your sales training to fit Millennials.

The retail sales workforce is evolving, but is your sales training evolving with it?

For the generation currently moving into the workforce—Millennials—the “right now” culture has transformed the way they learn, how they process new information, and it’s influenced the ways in which they interact with those around them. Yet, even as these behaviors have spread to the workplace, many retailers have found themselves unprepared or unable to adapt.

Because of the way Millennial salespeople learn and communicate, retailers should consider freshening up their approach to training. They want to be engaged by and engage with their new employers—and they don’t want to be bored while they’re doing it. So, how can retailers go about revamping their training tactics to make sure they’re giving Millennials everything they need to succeed? Well, when you take the time to truly understand this generation’s learning tendencies, “Millennializing” your sales training can be easier than you think. Here are five training updates to get you started so you can get your new salespeople ready to take on the floor in no time.

1. Let tech do the talking
Millennials have become pretty accustomed to technology; it’s incorporated into virtually everything they do. So, humdrum presentations just won’t cut it. They want something flashy. Make sure you’re ready to do some hat-pulling, person-sawing, flower-appearing magic for them. And don’t worry: magic comes easier than ever with a few pieces of tech to back you up. 

Incorporating technology into your sales training will keep your new trainees engaged and boost participation throughout the process. With tools like immediate response systems and game play, you won’t need to beg for new hires to get involved—and you’ll help them absorb and retain information much easier.

2. Keep it brief
The attention span of the average human? Eight seconds. That’s probably a bit shorter than you originally would have guessed, right? Here’s the kicker: even the average goldfish has a longer attention span. 

Now that you know it’s easier to hold the attention of an aquatic pet, don’t you think it might be time to revise the length of your training sessions? Make sure your Millennial team isn’t losing focus halfway through the training seminar, by paring down your info to two or three key points within each session. Expanding any further beyond that could have your new sales crew suffering from focus fatigue, sending important information in one ear and right out the other.

3. Highlight the customer’s point of view
A great pitch and bright smile might go a long way for many sales pros, but having the right point of view is everything. Stress the importance of this to each and every new sales hire, as it will be one of their biggest keys to success in their new position. 

Every person who walks through your door has different needs, wants and tastes. So, teach your sales team to act accordingly, employing unique tactics for each individual customer. To ensure they’re making every sale they can, school trainees in a variety of sales approaches in an effort to understand and truly connect with every demographic.

4. Don’t limit training to a timeslot
While you’ve most likely blocked off specific times for your new sales team’s training, learning never stops. Make sure to continuously offer extended training to your team—especially in ‘game situations’—to keep them up to date on the freshest tactics, newest products, and to just remind them of the basics from time to time. Remember: an educated team is a successful team. 

According to Training Industry, ongoing training has several advantages on both a personal and company-wide level. These include improved morale and job satisfaction for employees, as well as greater sales and customer service performance for the company as a whole.

5. Set measurable goals
How is your team supposed to know they’re doing well if they don’t know what “well” is? Set specific benchmarks for them to strive toward from day one. That way, they’ll have an understanding of expectations and how close they are to meeting them. This can also encourage some healthy competition, motivating employees to push boundaries and go beyond what is expected. 

While ongoing goals are certainly beneficial at times, be sure to check that all your current goals make sense. Updating expectations according to what’s happening around the business will make sure your new team members aren’t trying to meet unattainable goals.

Adapting your sales training will leave your next generation of trainees more than ready to take on the world of sales. But, with workplaces changing rapidly, the time to get started is now.

Kevin Cundiff is Vice President of Retail for Fortegra, a subsidiary of Tiptree Financial Inc.

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