We often hear that millennial employees are a breed apart, and require a shift in management style and perspective. The same can be said about a millennial sales team and what’s needed to effectively manage and leverage their particular outlook and talents.
How do you manage younger employees?
Generally speaking, think of these younger salespeople as self-confident, positive thinkers who are thoroughly comfortable with digital technologies in all forms, and ready to take on sales challenges unique to your company and industry. It's important to address each person as an individual in this era of the multi-generational workforce.
The key is providing the right type of guidance and training to maximize their efforts on behalf of your organization.
Here are seven key tips for your millennial sales team:
- Zero in on their motivation
- Be prepared to offer flexible work schedules
- Offer feedback (and plenty of it)
- Provide training in bite-sized portions
- Give them guidance on selling to older generations
- Encourage collaboration
- Take advantage of their digital know-how.
Zero in on their motivation
Like any other employees, millennials want to be paid a fair wage for the work they do. But perhaps more than other generations, they’re often motivated by the need to “make a difference”— in their community or in the world at large. It’s worth the effort to meet with your sales team members to better understand what drives them on a personal and professional level.
Be prepared to offer flexible work schedules
You may have already instituted flexible work schedules in your organization, but if not, think carefully about trying to restrict millennial salespeople to a rigid 9-to-5 routine.
Again speaking in general terms, these strongly self-motivated individuals can be relied upon to attend to daily or weekly sales-activity objectives. But, they also believe they can do in a flexible way—and may bridle at being restricted to a strict 9-to-5 workplace schedule. Look into what type of flexible work schedules enable them to achieve maximum productivity.
Offer feedback (and plenty of it)
Millennials thrive on feedback, especially when it’s frequent and constructive (as opposed to quarterly or semi-annual performance reviews). They want to hear from their managers that they’re doing a good job, which will make them work even harder. But they’re also open to critiques that let them build on their existing knowledge and experience. This salesforce thrives on learning opportunities.
Provide training in bite-sized portions
Sales training is critically important for millennials, as it is for other generations of salespeople. Adopting a formalized training program, however, may not be the best approach.
Millennials favor shorter, condensed training sessions, not day-long workshops or other, more traditional classroom-style approach. Look into interactive sales training software that plays to their ability to absorb information in quick, interactive programs. You’ll likely see better results this way.
Give them guidance on selling to older generations
A key area of training for this generational cohort is guidance on selling to clients who aren’t millennials. It’s important to train millennials on the best ways to reach out to customers with different generational needs and desires. After all, if they can’t understand what drives these individuals and business owners, “they will struggle to maintain relationships with some clients and close sales with many prospects.”
Back in the day, companies often found benefits in pitting one salesperson against another. That’s not the ideal approach to sales management for millennials, who tend to favor collaboration over competition.
Emphasize a team approach to sales management, with plenty of opportunities to brainstorm together, pair more experienced individuals with sales rookies, etc. It’s also a good idea to reward the entire sales team for successful deals, rather than only single out individuals for praise.
Take advantage of their digital know-how
Remember, millennials understand digital technologies inside and out, including how to sell via social media. Rather than shoehorn them into one approach or another, encourage your team to “continuously adopt new technologies and integrate the latest, most sophisticated digital sales tools into their repertoire.” They’ll benefit from the infusion of exciting new ways to approach sales and your company will benefit from their willingness to explore these new strategies.
You have a unique opportunity to draw upon your millennial sales team’s generational strengths and enthusiasm. Don’t let that opportunity slip by.
Sales revenue growth, profitability and increasing accountability are the top three area business owners believe they can improve on by implementing a written strategic plan. Want to learn more about business leadership? Check out TAB's PULSE Survey on Business Leadership!