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FEATURE SKILLS


STEPS MANUFACTURERS CAN TAKE TO RECRUIT YOUNG SALES TALENT


ADAPT TRAINING AND PROCEDURES Sellers work with more informed purchasers, so cannot rely on older generations’ techniques of product knowledge and long-lasting relationships to close a deal. Buyers increasingly want less technical expertise and demand more perspective on business issues. So, the best sales people need to understand how they can help prospective customers solve their challenges while demonstrating the commercial value of any solution. To enable this, a proven sales


methodology that everyone in the organisation follows provides a practical, repeatable and scalable framework to underpin every phase of the sales process. In manufacturing this is particularly


A study from Oxford Economics in 2014 predicted that the number of baby boomers in the global workforce could drop by nine per cent between 2015 and 2020. Since then, a record 70 million people of this generation have already retired


W


hile this natural attrition typically makes room for a next generation


of workers, traditional industries, such as manufacturing, are increasingly competing for talent against newer, more exciting industries, such as advanced technology. This challenge is particularly acute within sales teams that have historically been comprised largely of baby boomers, who have established sector expertise and a rolodex full of contacts built up through their careers. How do you rebuild from losing an


experienced workforce? What does it take to attract younger generations of sales people to the manufacturing industry?


PRIORITISE CULTURE AND PERSONALISED DEVELOPMENT To attract new talent, manufacturing organisations need to make some changes, because what it means to work for a company has evolved significantly. For older generations, it would often be that sales professionals would do whatever the company asked of them for their pay packet, even relocating from the south to the north of the UK. For younger sellers, rather than focusing on salary or commission


28 APRIL/MAY 2019 | IRISH MANUFACTURING


packages, they are keen to know about a company’s culture. It is critical when picking an employer that they are joining an organisation that aligns with their values and that they can be passionate about working for them. And they are not typically looking for a job for life either, unlike previous generations. However, offering young talent a


tailored development plan and ensuring that they receive consistent feedback as they continue in their career helps with retention. Millennials are more likely to be devoted to their employer if they feel like the company is equally focused on their continued growth and development. Behavioural assessments should be used


to discover people’s strengths and weaknesses and develop tailored individual training and coaching to build the ultimate salesforce. Only by understanding what makes the best sales people successful can organisations hope to replicate these skills. Respondents in CSO Insight’s Sales Talent


Ready Study said that on average their top 20 per cent of salespeople accounted for 54 per cent of revenues over the last year, but only 16 per cent of sales leaders agreed that they assess why their top performers are successful.


MHG www.millerheima ngroup.com/uk/ T: (0) 203 744 9020


By Richard Hilton, managing director EMEA at Miller Heiman Group


pertinent because formalised coaching cultures are sometimes lacking. Often senior leaders come in and help with any negotiation or supply chain issues and leave the frontline focussed on numbers such as monthly quotas. This is not sustainable. If nobody ever trains young sellers to ask about customer business issues, how are they supposed to be successful? If a sales methodology is applied consistently and reinforced regularly then every seller, no matter what age, is equipped to be successful.


MAXIMISE THEIR DIGITAL NATIVE SKILLS Many companies haven’t been as quick to embrace technology in their sales process as they have in their operations. They may be selling through the internet or embracing IoT, but they have been slower to use technology such as customer relationship management systems to support sales forecast and revenue effectiveness and thus are falling behind. Digital natives should be utilised to


better enable their salesforce with technology. Often, millennials aren’t brought in for these types of projects because they are seen as too junior, but this is a missed opportunity to harness their technological know-how. These steps will appeal to young


salespeople who seek ownership over their work and like to make decisions that will shape the way companies do business. Millennials are hungry for any special opportunities that can come their way, so bringing in more of this talent has the ability to drive manufacturing organisations towards digital transformation faster than they would otherwise.


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