This is the final part of our three-part article about teaching older sales reps to embrace sales technology.

Wendover believes boomers are good at the initial wave of technology, but changing trends can take a while to learn. And technology changes quickly.

“To some degree, we’re all dealing with this tidal wave worth of 10 billion applications we’re all supposed to know,” he says. “And you have to be able to pick through it.”

Wendover points to several things as essential to learn: Microsoft Office applications; social media sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter; video-sharing services like YouTube and Vimeo; and the ability to navigate manufacturers’ websites so sales staff can send helpful links to customers.

Fortunately for distributors, because so much of today’s social interaction happens online over some of these applications, Cadell says he has seen an easier transition for sales reps who already use these technologies in their personal lives.

“We’ve kind of reached a point in society, in general, where some of the medium platforms that are being used to get in front of a customer on the business side are some the same identical platforms that have been working on the at-home side for a long time,” he says. “At this point … it’s just the norm; it’s everyday life.”

In Cadell’s estimation, it’s worth training all sales reps in new technology, regardless of age.

“It’s always worth investing the time,” he says, “because once you get them going [in technology], you never know what they are going to find or where their network will go.”

A buyer may suddenly retire, only to be replaced by a Millennial that would prefer to do everything digitally. It’s even quite possible that a shift in philosophy or staffing reduction on the buyer’s side could necessitate a change in the way the distributors sales rep interacts with that customer. If the sales rep is already tech savvy, the relationship can remain in tact.

“We’re finding that so much more is happening right now via email and text message, because businesses are being asked to do more with less still,” says Cadell. “Their employees are tasked with more things to try to do. The walk-in and having a 10-, 20-minute or hour-long conversation days — or even having phone conversations that are longer than 15 minutes — are becoming a thing of the past.”

That makes social media and digital avenues, as well as a voicemail here or there, a good approach.

“Blending a good sales technique that has all of that is a good way to keep that customer,” says Cadell.

Jonathan DePaolis is a freelance writer based in Tinley Park, Illinois.

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Providing Technology Training For A Sales Team