What to do with the 'Old Dogs' on your sales team

Eldon
Eldon MacKeigan
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Sandler Sales Minute

At 62, I guess I could be placed in the category of an "old dog"...

Eldon MacKeigan, co-founder of the Nova Scotia Sandler Training.

At 62, I guess I could be placed in the category of an "old dog" so I'm somewhat reluctant about the term, but it seems to come up in conversation from time to time as I speak with business owners and sales managers. The typical comment goes something like, "I've got a sales staff of old dogs that won't make any changes."

As I explore the comment further, what I tend to find is two things. First is the desire to transform people to a new way of doing things in record time. If only magic dust worked. The second is the lack of blending the experience of the old dogs with new concepts. Is there a middle ground that allows for contribution from both?

Whether it's the trucking business, selling of architecture services or anything else, we have an abundance of baby boomers that continue to contribute to business. They have an abundance of product knowledge and a history of establishing relationships. The problem is not that they don't have these as strengths, but that the company and market are changing and there's a gap that causes conflict. How do we bridge that gap?

Every business upgrades their products and services based on the new technology available along with customer demands. We do it to stay competitive. As the market changes and new generations take their seat in the company and with our customers, we also need to be aware that changes are needed in order to connect not only with the product, but also in our business practices. This can't be achieved over night or in a wham-bam way.

Change is difficult, especially when we have been doing things a certain way for an extended period of time. I get frustrated with a new version of Microsoft and need time to understand and adapt to the new software. On the other hand my daughter has it down in hours. Given the way we learn, it's imperative we train in a manner that allows people time to adapt and blend the old with the new. Old dogs may not move as fast, but with their experience they can adapt the new to fit their world.

I work with young and senior professionals and the top businesses have an amazing blend of skills and experience that develop a successful team. As businesses move forward their success will come from the strengths of every person who want to redefine their role and upgrade themselves beyond where they are now.

©2012 Sandler Training Inc. (www.atlantic.sandler.com) is an international sales and management training/consulting firm. For a free copy of Why Salespeople Fail And What To Do About It, call the Sandler Training at 902-481-0773 or e-mail eldon@sandler.com.

Organizations: Microsoft, Sandler Training

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