Sales alert: millennials are here

Millennials and Sales

Millennials and Sales

Millennials, born between 1982 and 1993, are 80 million strong. In 2015 Millennials passed Generation X to make up the largest share of the workforce.  In 2020 they will be nearly half of the workforce.

Some important facts about Millennials as reported by the Council of Economic Advisors are:

  • Millennials are now the largest most diverse generation in the U.S. population.
  • Millennials have been shaped by technology.
  • Millennials value community, family, and creativity in their work.
  • Investments in human capital are likely to have a substantial payoff for Millennials.

What does this mean for Sales?

  • Take a second look. Whether you are talking about recruiting, selection, onboarding, training or compensation, it is will worth the time to consider whether your processes are in tune with the experiences and expectations of a cohort that will comprise an increasing percentage of your sales force.  The danger is doing too little, too late to optimize the potential of an entire generation of sales people.
  • Leverage the spirit of collaboration.  The day of the lone wolf salesperson is coming to a close.  Today, selling is becoming a team sport. The good news is while competitive Millennials like working in teams, so leverage that mindset. Millennials will embrace team selling – leveraging institutional resources and helping one another out.  Additionally, when working as individuals, it’s important for sales managers to show Millennials how their work ties back to the sales team’s overall performance and the company as a whole.
  • Optimize the power of technology.  Although it is a myth that every Millennial was given a smart phone at birth, there is some truth in the fiction – back in 2000 I recall a colleague’s 6-year old grandchild had one at the top of Santa’s list for that past Christmas.

Increasingly Sales is being impacted by the digital revolution.  Customers have more information about the products, predictive analytics have taken the guesswork out of determining who is a potential buyer and automated sales management tools are cheaper, better and more pervasive than ever.

Millennials want to be judged on the quality of their work product. They believe they can work from anyplace by leveraging technology. So leverage their knowledge and interest in the power of technology.

  • Invest in training.  Education and training have been part of their experience since day one. Continuous learning is important to Millennials.  They want to enhance their skills – technical, interpersonal, and professional.  If you don’t provide it, they will find someone that will. The investment is easy to justify since in market after market, buyers are experiencing disruptive changes that impact how they buy.  This means your sales team needs to change how they sell and sales training needs to move to the center stage.

A spotlight has been placed on Millennials in the workforce because of their sheer numbers. While many of their expectations may be similar to others, there are special considerations to keep front-of-mind. The good news is they care about purpose, are high energy and view feedback as a developmental opportunity.

Every year Beloit College distributes a report to its faculty sharing the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering the college. Looking at the reports it’s easy to see why the Millennial mindset differs from others in the workplace. For them the Soviet Union never existed and “google” has always been a verb.

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©2016 Sales Momentum® LLC

About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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