Teaching the Next Generation How to Sell

Beverly Flaxington

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The following is excerpted from The Pocket Guide to Sales for Financial Advisors by Beverly D. Flaxington (ATA Press, 2014), which is available from Amazon via the link on this page.

As the years roll on, more advisors consider retirement, but they don’t have a strong plan to keep their legacy going. The aging of the industry is a real concern, and our firm is often called on to train the next generation. At Suffolk University where I teach leadership to 18, 19 and 20 year olds, I face this issue every semester!

For this week’s column, we have excerpted the topic from the bestselling book on sales for financial advisors. I encourage the younger generation to write in and let us know what we’ve missed.

Creating a sales program for the next generation

With many in the older generations retiring, the Millennials are beginning to make up a large portion of the workforce. Some Millennials are even entering higher-ranking positions where they have a great deal of responsibility. One of the biggest challenges for advisors is determining how to bring onboard and train this generation of workers. It’s becoming an imperative because there are many more advisors getting ready to take their own retirement and not as many new advisors coming in to fill the void. Learning how to train and coach the next generation of staff is going to be important if most advisory firms are to survive the departure of the founder or lead advisor.

Many an advisor has believed they have found their successor, only to have that person leave long before the transition was to take place. It’s not enough to manage someone from the next generation the same way you were managed. The adage “that’s how I learned and how I did it” might actually do you in! Millennials are different from the Baby Boomers they are following in the practice. In most cases, they want instant gratification and frequent feedback. They expect their careers to progress quickly. They’ve always received constant praise from their parents. They believe there are no losers and that everyone is equal. Everyone wins a trophy. While they are eager to learn, they want meaning in what they do, so cultural values are very important to them and doing the right thing can be as well.

While they might believe everyone wins, this group is very open to feedback and coaching to help them improve. This mindset offers an excellent method of providing them information about best practices, as well as an opportunity to critique their performance – as long as it is presented as an opportunity for development. This generation of workers prefers having clearly defined expectations. Thoroughly outline your expectations and their duties on a daily basis. They prefer to know how their performance will be evaluated and the criteria being used for that purpose. Minimize miscommunication by conveying clearly what is expected of them throughout the training process.

Millennials benefit from a comprehensive training program. This group of workers responds very well to training based on the visual. They prefer information that is easily absorbed through presentations or infographics. Online training courses might be used to teach the basics and company policies; this may even help to make the learning curve shorter. They are much more comfortable learning virtually, through online discussions, websites and videos. They have no trouble with researching through online sources. They prefer fast-paced, interactive programs.