How to Build a High-Performing Multigenerational Sales Team

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This is a guest post by David Szen. David is an HBDI® Certified Practitioner specializing in sales training design, leadership development and coaching performance management. As a Principal Consultant at Symmetrics Group, David designs and delivers custom training programs for sales leaders and professionals. His book, The Multigenerational Sales Team, co-authored with Symmetrics Group’s founder and managing partner Warren Shiver, focuses on the increasing need for sales organizations to more effectively leverage talent from generational groups who think, sell and buy in vastly different ways.

According to estimates by the US Department of Labor, in less than ten years, Millennials will represent almost 75% of the workforce. But the multigenerational salesforce is already here, and businesses are struggling with how to develop a cohesive, collaborative team that not only manages through that diversity but thrives on it.

We heard about these challenges as we talked to business leaders while we were writing our new book, The Multigenerational Sales Team. Some of the key questions we explored were: How can generations with different perspectives find ways to successfully work together? And how do you recruit, train and deploy different generations of salespeople to build an effective sales team?

They’re issues that every sales leader needs to get a handle on for their organizations to remain competitive in an increasingly competitive selling environment, one where generational differences can have far-reaching impact.

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How Great Sales Coaches Build Smart Game Plans

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Sales leaders often tell us that coaching is one of the most important developmental tools they have for helping sales reps improve performance. Good sales coaching can have a direct impact on motivation, commitment and goal attainment. But many organizations aren’t realizing those benefits.

One reason? Too many sales managers are being put into coaching roles without a workable game plan.

In the sales world, coaching and development strategies often focus on behaviors, specifically, changing behavior. And behaviors are important. But the problem is, this approach tends to ignore the thinking that drives behavior. How someone behaves is situational and can be affected by many external factors—just consider all the variables and external pressures a salesperson can have to deal with on a daily basis.

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Buying is About Thinking: How to Get Inside Your Customer’s Head

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All through your life, you’re making all kinds of decisions. And whether consciously or not, you make those decisions by following a personal decision-making process—one that has developed over the years and become a consistent pattern that is grounded in your thinking preferences.

The buying decision, like any decision someone makes, is also directly related to the way a person thinks. It only stands to reason, then, that if you can get inside your customer’s head and have a better understanding of how they think—what they focus on, what catches their attention and how they got through the process of thinking through a decision—then you’ll be way ahead of the game when you’re in a selling situation.

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How efficient is your sales thinking?

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With so many of us pressed for time and juggling more and more responsibilities, it doesn’t make sense to focus energy and attention on areas that will be unnecessary—or even detrimental—to the sale.

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Effective Sales Coaching: Whole Brain® Thinking Required

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“Thinking? Why focus on thinking? I am interested in changing behavior!”

- A frustrated sales leader discussing how to address the organization’s challenges of improving top-line revenue growth, conversion rates and forecasting accuracy

In the sales world, we often focus on behavior and not the thinking that drives it, and as a result we often fail to get any kind of long-term change. Behaviors are situational and can be affected by many external factors, but thinking is at the heart of who we are, impacting how we process information, make decisions and learn.

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Sales Leadership White Paper Provides Framework for Better Results

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Last year the McKinsey article Getting More From Your Training Programs made an interesting point about sales training and how organizations are investing their time and resources to optimize their sales organizations:

The content of the training itself is not the biggest issue…The most significant improvements lie in rethinking the mindsets that employees and their leaders bring to training, as well as the environment they come back to afterward.

Why are thinking and mindsets so important, particularly in the sales arena?

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