The next time you need to on-board a new salesperson, there’s a good chance you’ll be hiring a member of Gen Y or Z. These young workers are eager to make their mark on the world. As their manager, it’s up to you to find the best way to bring them up to speed. In doing so, you might find yourself changing some of your practices. Here’s what Brian Cleary recommends in his recent column for Sales and Marketing Management.
Above all things, remember that your younger employees have grown up in a digital world. For them, computers and smartphones have always existed. Cleary cites UNC research about how younger adults take in knowledge. For one thing, they don’t shy away from learning. But, their learning style differs from that of previous generations. As far as they are concerned, there’s no need to memorize anything when the answer to any question can be found with a quick Google search.
Think small when you start training young salespeople. The best way to connect with them is to distribute small chunks of information, preferably in a digital or mobile format. For many organizations, this shift means changing up the traditional training style of having new employees sit through day-long training sessions in a classroom or a webinar. Even in the best cases, employees only retained small amounts of this information. Your training will be far more successful if you develop materials that can be quickly read and retained as employees go through their day. Allow them to access the material when they need it.
Cleary also points out that millennial and Gen X workers are no different from the rest of us in terms of learning styles. Some of these employees will respond well to video content. Others prefer to read. And, for some, there’s no substitute for on-the-job coaching.
To reinforce what new employees have learned, make sure you set up a reward system. Something as simple as earning points toward paid-time off or a free lunch is all the incentive they’ll need to work hard for you and the company. Before long, they’ll be adding to the bottom line.