Young And Restless
Seven Must-Know Tips To Manage Millennial Salespeople
Organizations used to be able to cook up a successful sales team with a few basic ingredients: a quality product, compelling compensation plan, simple training program and effective sales tracking. Not so anymore. Millennials have changed the recipe.
Born after 1981, Millennials are the youngest generation in today’s workforce. They are also vastly different from every generation before them—and that’s especially true when it comes to sales. Millennial salespeople are confident, self-expressive, upbeat and open to change. They came of age immersed in technology and instant communication. Their expectations, both for work and personal life, are sky-high.
It should come as no surprise that this unique generation has tremendous potential for success in sales—but Millennials require a new style of management to achieve that success. Here are seven must-have ingredients for successfully managing Millennial salespeople:
1. Figure out what’s really driving them. Millennials are a generation of idealists, which means they often focus more on social impact or personal fulfillment than how much money they make. They also live at home with their parents longer and put off marriage and child-rearing to a greater extent than any previous generation. As a result, many
Millennials are less driven by financial stability than they are by work-life balance or community contribution. Figure out what really drives your Millennial salespeople so that you can motivate them in the most effective ways possible.
2. Help them see the client’s perspective. Because Millennial salespeople are often selling to older clients, it is critical that they understand and connect with those in older generations. Teach your Millennial sales team that 55-year-old prospects will not have the same outlooks or aspirations as 27-year-old prospects. For example, a 55-year-old Baby Boomer client might be highly motivated by financial security, while a 27-year-old Millennial client is more likely to be driven by convenience and flexibility. If Millennial salespeople fail to understand the perspectives of older generations, they will struggle to maintain relationships with clients and close sales with a large demographic of prospects.
3. Train, train, train—and then train some more. Millennials are often over-educated for their entry-level jobs, but you should still provide them with extensive work training for two key reasons. First, Baby Boomer parents have imbued their Millennial kids with an appreciation for continued education. By offering comprehensive training to new hires, top young talent will actually be attracted to your organization. Second, Millennials are typically enthusiastic learners who will implement the strategies and techniques they are taught. The more training you give them, the more effective they will be at sales.
4. Focus on what they do—not when they do it. The idea of a 9-to-5 work day is not merely foreign to most Millennials, it’s completely abhorrent. When left to their own devices, these young salespeople might head off to the gym at noon—but that doesn’t mean they’re not hardworking. It just means they’re likely to stay late at work to finish what they have to do. Many organizations struggle to manage their Millennial salespeople by requiring that they work certain hours. Not only is this unnecessary, but it’s also harmful to work productivity. Millennials are known for demanding work-life balance. If they sense that their employer lacks an appreciation for work-life equilibrium, their morale will plummet and they’ll consider other job options. Instead of setting a rigid work schedule, give your Millennial sales team members specific daily or weekly sales activity goals. For example, tell them to make a certain number of calls, conduct a certain group of meetings or attend a certain type of event. Then let them work according to whatever schedule will make them most productive.
5. Give them lots of feedback. There’s a reason why Millennials are called Trophy Kids. This generation wants recognition—and lots of it. Remember that your Millennial salespeople grew up receiving awards and trophies for nearly every endeavor, whether coming in last place at a Little League tournament or taking fifth place at the science fair. To be a successful manager, you must capitalize upon this deep-seated Millennial trait: Give your sales team lots of feedback. Knowing that their manager thinks they’re doing a great job is often more motivation for Millennials than a monetary bonus. And don’t shy away from giving your Millennial salespeople constructive feedback, either. Millennials aim high when it comes to work achievement, and they are exceptionally open to constructive criticism if it will translate to more success, faster.
6. Set their expectations for success. Instant gratification: Millennials grew up with it, whether it was fast food, instant messaging or the 24-hour news cycle. As a result, this generation looks for fast results and is likely to get bored quickly. In the workplace this translates to what’s known as job-hopping, where Millennials stay at each job for only a few months to a year, leaving for greener pastures if their expectations aren’t met in a timely manner. Instead of viewing this as a negative reality, consider that this mindset can be an asset to your business. Millennial salespeople start every new job with enthusiasm and high hopes—if you can help shape their expectations for the job, you can more consistently retain Millennial talent. Set realistic expectations early on for Millennial salespeople, and you will lessen the likelihood that they’ll leave for greener pastures in the near future.
7. Ask for their help. One of the best qualities of the Millennial generation is that they are collaborative, team-oriented workers. This means they are likely to want to help others in the workplace. Once your Millennial salespeople have shown superior skills in particular areas, invite them to train others on the team. For example, Millennials will likely be strong with technology such as your CRM system or social media. Let them contribute to the team by helping veteran salespeople master whatever technologies they might struggle with. Because Millennials are highly driven by community contribution and social impact, the opportunity to improve the sales team with their knowledge and skill is very rewarding for them.
Marc Wayshak is the bestselling author of two books on sales and leadership, Game Plan Selling and Breaking All Barriers. As a sales strategist, Wayshak created the Game Plan Selling System to revolutionize the way salespeople, entrepreneurs and companies approach selling. His sales strategy is based upon his experiences as an All-American athlete, Ivy League graduate, startup entrepreneur and years of research, training and selling. He holds an MBA from the University of Oxford and a BA from Harvard University. Get his free eBook on 25 Tips to Crush Your Sales Goal at GamePlanSelling.com. Contact him at 617-203-2171 or Info@MarcWayshak.com, or follow him on Twitter: @MarcWayshak