Sales consultants become sales consultants – often starting their own sales consulting firms – because they’ve learned a thing or two about managing not only the sales process, but also salespeople. Today’s business and sales cultures are more diverse than ever, generationally speaking. But it is particularly important for business owners, Sales Managers and VPs of Sales in small- to medium-sized businesses to know how to manage the largest generation in today’s workforce: Millennials.
So, let’s discover what drives this generation and uncover sales consultants’ secrets for managing Millennials on the sales team:
Who Are Millennials?
Millennials (aka “Generation Y”) were born during the period from 1981 to the late 1990s. They followed Baby Boomers and Generation X into the business world. Today, Millennials are not only the largest generation of employees, but will continue to expand as a percentage of the workforce, comprising as much as 75% of the global workforce by 2025.
Millennials are well-traveled, and many speak a second language. And don’t forget that Millennials are digital natives. They grew up with technology being part of their lives; and taking advantage of technology to stay ahead of the competition is second nature to them.
Managing and Selling by Understanding
It can be difficult for Baby Boomer VPs and managers to effectively lead Millennials. This is because these two generations are vastly different and are separated by Generation X workers (who may share traits with both). Truth is, any time you have one generation managing another, leadership demands an appreciation of inherent generational differences as well as specific wants and needs of the generation being managed.
Just as Baby Boomer and Gen X managers need to appreciate the generational differences between themselves and Millennials, the opposite is also true: Millennials must recognize that when selling to different generations – often Baby Boomers in leadership and decision-maker roles – understanding is key. Millennials should recognize, for example, that the Baby Boomer buyer might be more motivated by bottom line financial aspects than by softer characteristics of the solution being offered.
Sales Consultants’ Secrets: How to Manage Millennial Salespeople
Sales consultants, like our licensed Advisors at Sales Xceleration, know plenty about effectively managing Millennial salespeople, including the importance of the following:
- Giving Millennials what they crave: feedback and coaching. Millennial salespeople want and need immediate performance feedback. This means they want not only to hear how you feel they are doing, but they need to be able to share with you how they feel they are doing. In fact, they want at least one touch point per week with their Sales Manager. What’s more, they respond to sales coaching focused primarily on helping them overcome their weaknesses.
- Providing professional development tools and opportunities. Chances are that Millennials will quickly tire of working for an employer that does not provide professional development, and will leave a sales organization that doesn’t provide performance improvement or leadership development opportunities. When it comes to preferred learning styles, Millennials typically prefer digital delivery of content, including webinars, video courses, interactive learning modules, and podcasts.
- Making collaboration easy – and a priority. Because Millennials are socially engaged, they typically appreciate the opportunity to connect and collaborate with their peers. Whereas Baby Boomers prefer face-to-face collaboration, Millennials might prefer online group chats, conference calls, video conferencing, and “Facetiming”.
- Empowering Millennials to excel with technology. While Baby Boomers might have to be coerced into using complex software to manage customer insights and sales engagement, Millennials are tech-savvy and naturally drawn to using technology to their competitive advantage. They will quickly adopt the use of collaboration and project management software. And they will likely embrace the opportunity to not only use your CRM system, but also to find ways to enhance its design and reporting capabilities.
- Respecting their need for flexibility and work/life balance. Perhaps above everything else, Millennials desire work/life balance. In fact, surveys have shown that this is highly valued by nearly 9 in 10 Millennials. Because they are active and socially engaged, Millennials thrive in employment situations that let them achieve their work goals on their own schedules. Indeed, they resent the shackles of a rigid 9 to 5 workday. And because they are constantly connected digitally, Millennials feel like their connection to work is always present, so expecting them to compartmentalize their work time simply doesn’t make sense. Instead, give them goals to achieve and let them achieve them on the work schedule they find most productive.
At Sales Xceleration, our licensed Advisors operate their own sales consulting firms; and all of them are experienced sales consultants adept at managing diverse generations of sales performers. What they have learned from experience is that you must understand and respect generational differences on your sales team and in your client base and pipeline.
In particular, Millennials make up the largest portion of today’s workforce, so knowing how to manage this generation of sales performers is critical to company success. To learn more, click here to connect with a Sales Xceleration Advisor in your area, or contact us today at 1.844.874.7253.
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