Managing a Millennial Sales Team
These days, if your business doesn’t have a healthy number of Millennials on staff, you’re in the minority. Millennials make up a large section of the workforce now, and they can provide excellent value to your company if you’re willing and able to manage them appropriately. Many of these young professionals go into sales, and as time goes by, managing a sales team effectively is becoming synonymous with the effective management of Millennials. According to Business 2 Community’s Guide to Managing Millennial Sales Reps, however, running a Millennial sales team isn’t so much different from running any other team. You just have to be willing to establish a solid structure in which each team member can thrive.
In fact, that’s the very first point that Business 2 Community brings up as a key to managing Millennial sales representatives. John Barrows, the founder of Sales from the Streets, believes that Millennials need structure to be at their most effective in the workplace. But sales leaders shouldn’t make the mistake of constructing a rigid structure around their young employees. Millennials are at their best under a structure that finds the sweet spot between micro-management and free range. Says Barrows: “You need to give Millennial reps something to work with where they can apply their own personality, style, and approach to that structure.”
When it comes to training Millennials, more is more. As the saying goes, “Give a Millennial a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a Millennial to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Or something to that effect. That philosophy applies quite well when it comes to sales, especially because many of today’s training procedures are of the one-and-done variety.
On outsourcing sales training to big name experts, Heinz Marketing CEO Matt Heinz says, “Everyone has their notepads out and is engaged, and you think you’re all set. But then once the presentation is over, the speaker leaves your sales team hearing about a different aspect of sales, your product, or what have you. And they spend the rest of the afternoon doing that. Guess what? By the end of the day, your reps have forgotten almost everything they’ve just learned about social selling.”
Ultimately, says Heinz, training isn’t something you accomplish with a single session, even if you pay a lot of money for that single session! Instead, “You have to keep coaching and continue training throughout the year in order to keep people developing.” Modern technology has contributed to the shortening of people’s attention spans, and your business must react to this trend by committing to long-term training for all ages, not just for Millennials.
Sales is a traditionally commission-based business segment. So any Millennials on your sales team clearly got into sales for the money and can be incentivized easily with offers for more money, right? Not necessarily.
Money is great, and allows people to do things with their lives that they might not otherwise be able to do. But everyone likes instant gratification, and Millennials seem to crave it a little bit more than other generations because they grew up in an evolving, immediate world. Barrows says that many new sales reps value their “workplace environment and recognition” above any other incentives you could offer to them. Whatever this means in your particular organization (parties, material rewards, more freedom, more responsibility, etc.), it’s important to find a point of connection through which you can motivate the younger members of your sales team.
While Millennials truly aren’t that different from the members of previous generations, it can be hugely beneficial to your organization to have a set structure in place for them in terms of day-to-day operations, training, and incentive programs. With the right framework set up, the performance of your Millennials can be massively profitable for your company.