In the sales world, there’s heated debate about the Millennial Generation. Do they really switch jobs constantly, never staying with companies for long? The verdict’s still out. But let’s – for the moment – say it’s true: those born after 1980 are a restless bunch that likes change.
As a sales leader, that gives you an average of 12 months during which a newly-hired millennial can be profitable for your organization. How does that timeline change your approach to getting that employee trained and selling? Are you onboarding as quickly and as effectively as you can?
Clients constantly tell me it takes six months to a year for a new hire to become highly profitable. My response is always, “Why?” You can onboard and have that employee making sales in just one month. And, if a newly-hired millennial feels productive and valued from the get-go, they’ll be more likely to stick around.
Before we discuss how to make a millennial profitable in no time, let’s look at the obstacles that slow down the onboarding of new hires:
Lack of preparation: A new hire wants to feel welcomed to the team. They arrive, however, to find there’s no one to show them around, their computer’s not set up, and there’s no agenda for training. Instead of an employee, they feel like a stranger off the street. This is no way to start the onboarding process.
Unrealistic expectations: Though a new sales rep can be onboarded and selling in a month, they can’t be expected to start producing from day one — especially if there’s no agenda in place. If they’re told they should, it will create nothing but frustration for everyone and will increase the chances the new hire will bail.
Training that drags out: There’s a fine line between being prepared and going overboard. If you make a new hire sit through hours of theoretical situations in training sessions versus getting up to speed in a real-life environment, it can take much longer for them to start producing.
No transition plan: You hand over accounts or leads to a new hire without any formal introduction to the clients. Those clients, in turn, are confused and have no idea who’s contacting them. Awkwardness ensues and slows down sales.
Create faster productivity
Now that we’ve examined the obstacles that slow down the onboarding process for new hires, let’s look at how you can speed it up and have your millennials selling in no time:
Partner up: One of the fastest ways to onboard a new sales rep is to pair them with an existing one — or take three weeks and partner them with three different sellers. Arrange for the new hire to listen to sales reps’ calls with clients and have them go out in the field. It’s much better than the new hire trying to get acclimated on their own.
Plan ahead: Give a new rep a well-developed territory – instead of building from the ground up – and they’ll be producing more quickly. If you’re a bigger organization, you might consider having current employees develop territories and generate leads ahead of time. That way, when the new hire arrives they actually have people to call.
Shadow the pros: Arrange for the new hire to go out on calls with a manager or team leader. Allow the employee to take the lead and to receive feedback.
A manufacturing client of mine had great success with job shadowing. The sales manager was ready to pass on a bunch of leads. She and the millennial she’d just hired sat in her office and made sales calls together. The new rep listened to the manager and the manager introduced the employee to clients. Then she had the rep make appointments to go out on meetings and joined him. With this approach, the millennial was onboarded and highly productive in just one month.
By eliminating the obstacles and incorporating the strategies above, you can greatly reduce the amount of time it takes to onboard a millennial. And, you’ll be encouraging them to be highly profitable for as long as they choose to stick around; which, if you do the job right, could be for a good, long while!
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