Passing information on to the next generation of sales reps can be tricky: Baby Boomers have amassed years’ worth of valuable relationships and experience — but much of it is kept in their heads.

“Sales managers have to harvest customer data from their current sales force to make sure they know what’s going on,” says Pancero. “You have to get them to use your CRM system more to enter data and ask about account updates.”

While distributors should encourage sales reps to use CRM systems, sometimes it’s difficult to get them to comply. In these instances, direct observation and shadowing of Baby Boomer sales reps can be productive.

“Observe how the Baby Boomers are selling because most of them are intuitive, not structured,” says Pancero. “Managers have to observe their people selling and interpret what they see to define best practices.”

Shadowing sales is not only valuable for next-generation sales reps but for Baby Boomers as well.

“The idea of mentoring, making sales calls with [Baby Boomers], and having the younger generation shadow them for six months to a year before they retire is incredibly helpful to both sides,” says Newton. “It’s difficult for retiring Baby Boomers to disengage and at the same time feel important. One of the ways to make them feel important and keep them productive is to have them share that valuable knowledge.”

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