First and foremost, sales consultants recommend that distributors conduct a workforce risk assessment, determining who is in the company and what skills, knowledge and experience they currently possess that benefits the organization, says Newton.

When Pancero asks business owners what percentage of their sales force they expect to lose in the next five years due to age or health-related issues, the answer is 50 percent or higher.

“They haven’t had the loss of Baby Boomers yet, so a lot of them are assuming they don’t have to change,” he says. “They believe the sales model they have will be appropriate and continue as they shift over to the next generation, but in this change of culture it isn’t.”

Essentially, what worked for Baby Boomers will not work for Millennials, say consultants; therefore, sales managers need to adapt to this new culture and take on a more active role in training the next generation.

“Because of their independence, there was very little coaching, direction or strategy,” says Pancero of the Baby Boomer sales force. “Millennials have always had a coach in their life, so they expect more communication in the team than the Baby Boomers would ever think relevant.”

Sales managers need to change along with this new generation in order to effectively motivate the younger reps.

“Sales managers spend about 95 percent of their time doing administrative tasks, rather than coaching,” says Pancero. “Senior leadership has to realize that they need to offload their sales manager’s responsibilities to free up time to coach.”

Coaches meet one-on-one with reps, offering advice and feedback. And as a coach, managers are more involved in the selling process. They collaborate with the rep early on to help guide the direction of the sales strategy, says Pancero.

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