The more I see trainers include phrases like, “More than 35 years experience in sales, sales management…” in their LinkedIn profiles and in the “About Us” sections of their websites, the more conscious I’ve become of this issue.
Here’s an important point: Hiring a sales trainer, just because they are young, to train your B2B sales team is as much of a mistake as hiring someone with decades of experience—but little of it relevant to overcoming your specific selling challenges.
Does that suggest that you should hire someone in their late 30′s or 40′s just cover all bases? Not if they aren’t qualified.
I’ve coached a bunch of trainers to remove references to their age, years of experience, or when they graduated from school. All that copy should be replaced with how they have contributed to their clients achieving their revenue and other performance targets. Mentioning the demographics of the groups they’ve trained, without being defensive, is something I’ve told them to consider as well.
I just read today that the average age of a Google employee is 26. Here’s a question: What’s the best age for a sales trainer that would be working with groups of 26-year-olds?
A sales training buyer client of ours rejected a sales trainer not because they were seen to be old, but because they were perceived as delivering the same content for the past twenty years. Now there is a challenge that can be relatively easily overcome.
Older sales trainers and consultants can offset a lot of the concern that prospective clients have about their age by:
- Investing all the time and effort required to stay up on what works in B2B selling today: research, trends, customer buying patterns, technology, books and blogs written by thought leaders, etc. Thought-leadership can overcome some peoples’ biases against age.
- Being active in social media, employing “the right” practices.
- Eliminating dated references, anecdotes, and examples from their blogs, literature, and training content. Using phrases such as, “When I carried a bag in the ’80′s,” or, “Remember what Jackie Gleason used to say…” are really, really irrelevant and, I believe, damaging.
- Replacing stilted, dated writing with what’s more widely accepted by all generations. (I read this article and it convinced me to reconsider my writing style a bit.)
- Getting schooled on the differences among the different generations, how they work, think, learn, play, entertain themselves, sell, and buy.
- Staying in shape physically. Eat right, exercise, get enough sleep. I highly recommend yoga. But that’s a post for another day.
Photo source: The Dallas News