Tips for Training Your Millennial Sales Team

August 6, 2016


A lot has changed the sales training process over the years.

While many of us had to endure those terrible VHS videos, complete with horrible soundtrack and ridiculous acting, today’s Millennials are pushing us to revamp our training to better mesh with their learning style.

Any time you are dealing with a generational gap in your team, you are bound to hit roadblocks in your training. Chances are, most of your new hires are Millennials, right?

Currently, there are more than 80 million millennials (those born between 1982 and 1993), so the chance that they will be joining your team is pretty solid.

In 2015, Baby Boomers in the workforce slid from the largest population, coming in second to millennials.

It’s time to tweak your training to better suit their learning needs. Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Provide a Comfortable Learning Environment


Millennials differ from their parents. They aren’t used to reading things off a blackboard, raising their hands to speak or sitting in uncomfortable classrooms.

This tech-savvy generation is largely motivated to learn through the use of online training seminars and other technology-based methods. In fact, on average millennials check their phones 43 times a day.

Leveraging the social nature of your trainees is a great way to get the right information in front of them. Because shareable information is typically no more than 5 minutes, most millennials have become accustomed to short bursts of information. With this in mind, keep your training sessions to short micro-bursts of information.

After all, the average human attention span is 8 seconds…

Interactive Training


In order to break up the humdrum nature of training, make it interactive. Showing a slide deck while standing in the front of a classroom just won’t work anymore.

You’re training a generation used to interacting with video games and computers. There’s no better way to keep your audience engaged than by having them get involved.

Take the time to revisit your role playing activities and make sure they are up-to-date and relevant. Millennials learn by “doing,” not just watching. Get them involved interactively from the very beginning and their training will improve in leaps and bounds.

Appeal to the competitive nature of the gamer generation by leveraging role-playing to discover your top trainees with a contest.

Most of your original role-playing topics will be just fine. If you are looking for additional scenarios, we recently published a post with 5 role play scenarios to use with your new hires.

Use Your Original Training Content…Just Repackage it!


Pardon the cliche but there really is no reason to reinvent the wheel. You have likely spent a good deal of time and energy tweaking your sales training program so don’t get rid of it completely, just keep the following points in mind:

  • Condense your training sessions – make them shorter and add interactive elements (role-playing etc.)
  • Consider using an interactive training software to digitize your training slides. You can email these to your trainees to be completed at home or at the office.
  • Be sure to include the basics – identifying the needs of the customer, developing a solution for the customer and value presentation.

Create an Environment that Integrates Work AND Life


This point is HUGE.

Unlike the Baby Boomer generation, millennials have mastered the art of seeking a job that allows them to make a living but also doesn’t strip the “fun factor” out of their lives.

Check out these millennial stats from the Intelligence Group:

  • 64% say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place
  • 72% would like to be their own boss. But if they do have to work for a boss, 79% of them would want that boss to serve more as a coach or mentor
  • 88% prefer a collaborative work culture rather than a competitive one
  • 74% want flexible work schedules
  • 88% want “work-life integration,” which isn’t the same as work-life balance, since work and life now blend inextricably

As you can see, millennials value creativity, flexibility and collaboration. With this insight in mind, you will be better equipped to tailor your training program. Many sales teams have incorporated break rooms with video games and other stress relieving, interactive options.

Provide Understanding – “Because I said so” doesn’t fly anymore

The new generation is curious about the world and certainly won’t take “because I said so,” as a viable answer.

Explaining why things are done a certain way and providing context in your training will appeal to the curious nature of millennials. This has sprouted largely from the “just Google it,” nature of their daily lives. No longer do they sit around and wonder things, someone simply says “wait, I’m looking it up,” and the mystery is solved.

Offer Continuous Learning Opportunities


One of the top reasons that your millennial sales reps will ultimately quit is because they don’t feel challenged. Harness the ever-learning spirit of these reps and be sure you are constantly coaching and offering new opportunities to learn and grow within the company.

As part of your continued training, consider interactive and collaborative activities. Try choosing a different topic each week and inventing your sales team to a lunch and whiteboard strategy session. Not only will your millennial reps enjoy the chance to socialize, but they will love the challenge to think outside of the box and bounce their ideas off their peers.

Top Takeaways for Training Your Millennial Sales Team

  • Keep training sessions short and interactive
  • Simply revise your current training material – don’t throw it out completely
  • Never underestimate the continued power of role-playing sales scenarios
  • Gamify all you can for future contests and training
  • Always explain the “why”
  • Foster a work environment that combines work and lifestyle
  • Offer continued opportunities for training

If you keep these points in mind, your millennial hires will mesh perfectly with the baby boomers and the opportunity to provide new, insightful and creative sales strategies will continue to flourish.

Business & Finance Articles on Business 2 Community

Author: Emily Murray