by Geoff Winthrop, Executive Vice President and Partner at Acquirent, LLC
Millennials continue to enter the workplace in record numbers, a talent-rich resource for prospective sales representatives. However, sometimes managing millennials, takes a little extra “care and feeding” in order to get the most from these young men and women.
The good news is, they’re naturals when it comes to multitasking, workplace collaboration and social selling. The challenge to employers is creating structures in which these free spirits can best operate and emerge as productive members of your sales team.
Here are tips for managing and instilling motivation in millennial sales representatives:
1. Adopt sales training methods aligned with their generational traits.
Everyone has shorter attention spans these days, but millennials have grown up this way. There’s no benefit in mandating that budding sales reps of this generation endure hours-long classroom instruction.
A more effective approach involves short training sessions provided on a continuous schedule throughout the year. (It’s OK to present the same information in somewhat different forms during these sessions, as a means of helping sales reps retain key facts and processes.)
Plenty of tools are available to reinforce the short attention-span approach. Mobile-based sales instruction (offered in 5- to 10-minute bursts) appeals to this generation, as does brief selling videos they can access and review at their convenience. Gamification is another increasingly popular training method, exploiting millennials’ lifelong fascination with video games. Transferring web-based games to a training venue often results in a keener understanding and use of proven sales methods.
2. Appeal to millennial aspirations.
What gets a millennial sales rep excited about his or her job? Financial security is less of a motivating factor than the prospect of “personal development, wanting to sell value and making an impact in the world,” says business consultant Ann-Marie Heidingsfelder. “To guarantee engagement, trainers need to tie the company mission and goals into the learning to make the learning resonate.”
3. Support their social selling skills.
Millennials know social media as well as (or probably better than) sales reps of other generations. Encourage them to expand their social selling repertoire and to embrace new digital resources in order to communicate better and save valuable time. These individuals have a strong grasp of the breadth and scale of social media, as well as for the metrics that determine where best to focus their sales efforts.
4. Look for experiential incentives to drive sales activity.
Regardless of generations, money is always an important incentive to boost sales. But to really plug into millennial goals and aspirations, start thinking experiential. These sales reps often want something other than the material items so popular among generations past. They hunger for unique experiences, something that whisks them out of their comfort zone and offers a different perspective on the world.
5. Offer feedback (and lots of it).
Millennials thrive on immediate and constructive feedback. They’re often more open than prior generations to managers’ feedback on their sales techniques and solutions, particularly if this leads to quicker improvement in overall sales. Giving them a view of the organizational “big picture” also helps them get through the more mundane processes of outreach and prospecting.
6. Be flexible in your demands on their time.
Don’t fall for the misconception that millennials are either lazy or indifferent to their job responsibilities. They just see time management in a different light.
“The idea of a 9-to-5 workday is not just foreign to most millennials, it’s abhorrent,” notes sales strategist Marc Wayshak. “If left to their own devices, these young salespeople might head off to the gym at noon, but that doesn’t mean they’re not hard-working.”
Wayshak advises employers against imposing a rigid schedule on these individuals, focusing instead on “specific daily or weekly sales-activity goals,” such as “a certain number of calls, meetings to arrange or events to attend.” They will devise a schedule that meets these goals, just not necessarily the way you might want to them to do so.
Managing millennial sales reps calls for a little extra patience, creativity and flexibility. But the ROI — with respect to an energized, productive sales team — is well worth it.
Geoff Winthrop serves as Executive Vice President and Partner at Acquirent, LLC. He brings a strong background in new business development, sales strategy and sales management to Acquirent and its clients. Today, Winthrop is involved in building and managing many of Acquirent’s client accounts.