The millennials are coming – what does it mean for sales training?


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Millennials – a/k/a Millennial Generation, Generation Y, Generation Next, Net Generation, Echo Boomers – describes the demographic group following Generation X (the cohort that followed the Baby Boomers). The dates marking the starting and ending birth dates for the Millennials varies by what you read, but the most referred to is the mid-1970s and the early 2000s. The largest generation since the Baby Boomers, the Millennials will have a huge impact – socially, economically, and even on sales training!

In January, the Corporate Executive Council argued that it’s “critical to understand how Millennials operate” before determining how to communicate with them. It presented a starter list, including:

1. They have a need for speed – wanting instant gratification and early, frequent feedback. And, as many of us have found, they expect to progress in their career path rapidly.
2. They’ve received constant praise – considered a generation nurtured by their parents who were very involved in their lives – we’ve all heard the phrase “helicopter parents” – Millennials believe there are no “losers” because everyone wins a trophy.
3. They want meaning – Millennials are eager to learn and believe they can make an impact.

So, given these characteristics, what does are the implications for building sales training?

First, Millennials are eager to learn, so take advantage of that mindset. They come to a sales training program with a positive mindset when pre-program communications share how attending the training will improve their performance – resulting in an impact for their customers and for their careers.

Second, use only fast-paced, interactive designs. Traditional stand-up training where an instructor walks through a slide deck doesn’t succeed with Millennials for two reasons – the program are too slow and too restrictive for an audience used to video games, texting, and Facebook. They are also too solitary – it’s the sales rep alone as the learner interacting with the instructor … perhaps with occasional exercises thrown in. Millennials, however, were raised to value collaboration over competition – seeking input, knowledge, involvement, and feedback from their peers. Sales training that succeeds with Millennials must be fast moving – and interactive!

Third, build on their receptivity to feedback. While Millennials may believe everyone wins, they are open to coaching and feedback to improve – providing an excellent opportunity for sharing best practices and critiquing their performance – positioned as a developmental opportunity.

Finally, let’s talk about the atmosphere. Everyone likes fun – and Millennials surely do. Building fun into the sales training program is important to keep Millennials engaged.

Janet Spirer
For more than 30 years Janet Spirer has worked with the Fortune 1000 to craft sales training programs that make a difference. Working with market leaders Janet has learned that today's great sales force significantly differs from yesterday. So, Sales Momentum offers firms effective sales training programs affordably priced. Janet is the co-author of Parlez-Vous Business, to help sales people have smart business conversations with customers and the Sales Training Connection.


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