(Day 1) Millennials In Sales: What You Need To Know For 2018

As the year draws to a close and companies begin to plan for the challenges of the coming year, Xvoyant presents X-Factor: 10 Days of Epic Sales Knowledge to gear up and get ready to crush it. We’ll be presenting an article a day for the next 10 days from the brightest stars in Sales, covering topics that include working with millennials, time management, social selling, team dynamics, coaching and much more.

To begin, we present an article from Max Altschuler on Millennials In Sales: What You Need To Know For 2018.  Max is the founder and CEO of Sales Hacker, the leading community for the next generation of sales professionals. He’s the author of Hacking Sales: The Playbook for Building a High Velocity Sales Machine. Max has been published by the Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Money, and more. He was named a top sales expert by both Salesforce and Inc., and keynotes conferences globally. He is also an avid investor and advisor for rapid growth startups.

We chose Max to contribute to this event because no one has a better finger on the pulse of modern sales and sales technology.  Here's how you can follow Max:

So sit back, take a minute and read Max’s article.  And remember, check back every day because there are nine more to come!

Millennials In Sales: What You Need To Know For 2018

Let’s set the record straight. Millennials are the fastest growing and largest generational segment in the U.S. labor force. We highlighted this as a major factor in our 2018 sales trends & predictions recap. Millennials are here to stay, and it’s time to start creating, nurturing, and fostering a work culture they will thrive in.

Recognize The Massive Value Millennials Bring To Your Organization

Many companies seem to overlook this, but millennials themselves are now emerging as decision makers within your prospecting and target accounts.

Not only are millennials among decision makers that you’re trying to reach, but they’re also a growing segment of management as well.     

It may be strange for some to see 28 year olds running sales teams, but most of the millennial leaders I know who are in management roles have definitely earned their stripes.

They’ve done this not by being the “entitled, whiney bunch” that media makes millennials out to be. They’ve done this by seeking purpose. By grinding it out at tech startups and learning by doing.

Millennials are on a fast track to career growth because of their hunger, motivation and drive - all set by purpose.

The “classic” American dream mindset of getting a college degree, staying at one company your entire career, buying a house, having kids, raising a family, earning a pension, and retiring is not the goal for most millennials. Instead, they are motivated by work-life balance, passion for what they do, and meaning behind their work.

Why Milenials Will Drive Your Sales Strategy in 2018

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NEVER, ever treat millennials as a problem. Instead, cultivate them as assets. This is especially true for startups and emerging SMB companies who are still defining and building their sales process - treat this as a chance to instill the right habits in millennial sales reps and mold them into all-star players.

Here’s why organizations should embrace the millennial generation.

  • Purely Based on Numbers. Millennials will dominate both the supply and the demand side of the economy: buyers and sellers will both skew towards the millennial demographic. In the U.S., millennials represent the largest generation ever in history at 92 million, with baby boomers (77 million) and Gen-X’ers (61 million) trailing behind. Given the nature of sales as a largely metric-driven numbers game, optimizing this demographic should figure high on every business agenda.    
  • Passion, Drive & Energy. Millennials had a tough upbringing that helped them develop unusual levels of grit, passion, and confidence. Many took the road to entrepreneurship and founded some of the world’s most disruptive and valuable companies. Having grown up in challenging times, millennials developed a knack for solving problems through innovation and creativity. According to Forbes, millennials are far more likely to start their own businesses too.
  • Technology is Embedded in Millennial DNA. Millennials grew up with the evolution of web, cloud, and mobile technologies and may be deemed as the first generation to become true digital natives. Unlike previous generations, millennials are very open and highly trainable when it comes to new sales technology. They also embrace metrics and data analytics in their workflow, which helps in processes such as prospecting and lead qualification.
  • Commitment to Ethics & Social Responsibility. U.S. millennials represent the most inclusive generation, with a strong majority expressing their commitment to social responsibility. This mindset carries over to how they approach peers, customers, and the wider market. Millennials also embrace different communication platforms to match their audience, with many having exceptional text messaging, email correspondence, and social selling skills.     

How To Create A Millennial-Driven Sales Strategy

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Remember, the millennial generation is aiming to become a highly driven melting pot of entrepreneurs, creatives, workers, thought leaders, sellers, technologists, and buyers.

To benefit from this shifting landscape, sales organizations need to formulate a responsive strategy that:

  • Aligns well with evolving buyer behavior.
  • Reimagines the work environment to draw out the best possible performance.
  • Restructures sales organizations to future-proof value.

When drawing your sales strategy, consider the following steps:  

  1. Design a talent management program that resonates with the millennial mindset. Recruit in ways that will attract millennials. Your retention policies should help motivate millennial staff to perform at their best and stay longer as part of your sales team. Social impact, work-life balance, collaboration, continuous learning, and flexibility score high in their system of priorities and you may want to align official policies along these areas whenever appropriate.
  2. Adopt a millennial-focused incentives and promotions scheme. Millennials are hungry for success and are driven to achieve milestones such as awards, recognition, and additional responsibilities. Set and manage their expectations regarding their career path and the road to leadership. Implement the right performance metrics to keep everyone clearly informed about their progress. Reward excellence accordingly. Incentives include cash rewards for achieving a set target or may come as gift certificates, concert tickets, discounts, or even non-monetary rewards such as flexible work hours or free lunch with a thought leader. Remember, unmotivated millennials tend to jump from employer to employer and you wouldn’t want a perilously high turnover rate in your sales team.    
  3. Assign millennials to specific sales functions with which they have a strong affinity and expectations around promotion pathing. Excluding companies with very small sales teams, most enterprises organize their sales teams according to roles or functions.

These roles typically include:

  • Sales development reps (SDRs)
  • Account executives (AEs)
  • Customer success managers (CSMs)

This can also be broken up by:

  • Segment - SMB, Mid Market, and Enterprise.
  • Seniority - Junior vs Senior.

When employees are onboarded, they should be told how long they can expect to be at each level of a position, and where their numbers need to be. This way there are expectations set and they can “graduate” to the next role if those expectations are hit.

SDRs focus on inbound and outbound prospecting and lead qualification, guiding prospective customers through the pipeline instead of closing deals. This includes exploring new markets to find prospects via cold calling, cold emails, networking, and social selling. Millennials who excel at reaching out to people and building relationships fit either role.

Meanwhile, quota-carrying account executives often take on the task of closing deals. AEs also manage and grow relationships with both new and existing customers. Millennials with solid marketing, presentation, and customer engagement skills will have great careers as account executives.   

  1. Reimagine/reinforce your learning and development (L&D) program. Nothing beckons as compellingly to millennials as the opportunity to learn or hone the skills that are relevant to their passion or career. Because of a highly competitive workplace, millennials prefer to have multiple skills that complement their main area of expertise and raise the likelihood of career advancement/promotion. It’s not unusual for millennials who currently function as sales development reps to proactively learn skills more relevant to an account executive role, for example. Millennials appreciate and actively look for employer-sponsored training and will readily jump at an offer as soon as they receive one. Because they embrace technology, millennials prefer online video courses, gamified training, interactive learning modules, ebooks, and podcasts.    
  2. Keep your sales enablement tools updated. Millennials are the most tech savvy of generations and they easily learn how to leverage technology to increase sales productivity. Ask them for insight about your sales technology stack and how each component software impacts the sales team’s workflow and performance. They likely will have an idea or two on how to streamline your sales process or hike efficiency.  
  3. Foster feedback and collaboration. Group chats, conference calls, and collaborative project management software are staple items inside every millennial’s toolbox. So are performance metrics that serve as the class card for workplace millennials enrolled in the school of hard knocks. Known to embrace inclusion, collaboration, and teamwork, millennials thrive in environments that promote fairness, constructive feedback and collective action towards a specific goal. Moreover, you should provide opportunities for millennials to use their strengths — especially their affinity with tech — in helping other members of the sales team.

Unleash millennials to move the needle

It goes without saying that the rookies and young managers in your sales team represent the generation who will matter most in the emerging millennial economy. Because of their unique characteristics (i.e., sheer numbers, pure energy, market empathy, tech-laced DNA), millennial sellers are well-positioned to become the best sales professionals in recent history.  

Smart organizations will harness this dynamic human resource to achieve ever higher levels of success. Has your company already established a talent management strategy that will attract, develop, and retain highly skilled millennials? If not, now is the time to make a difference.

-Max Altschuler

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If you want to find out more about changing behavior in your sales teams with Xvoyant Coaching Technology,

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You can get caught up with past and future day's articles by clicking on their titles below:

Day 2:  Annoying Persistence vs. Professional Persistence

Day 3: The Most Important Attribute in Coaching Top Performing Salespeople

Day 4:  Transformation in the Digital Era

Day 5: Designing a Social Sales Blueprint for Sales Leadership in 2018

Day 6: One Haunting Sales Statistic Every Sales Leader Should Know

Day 7: Hiring Kick Ass Salespeople

Day 7 Bonus: It is Time for More Women in Sales

Day 8: The Five Keys to Great Sales Coaching

Day 8 Bonus: 5 Lessons A 2-Year Old Can Teach You About Sales Coaching

Day 9: Why Impact East Value for Breakfast

Day 9 Bonus: Top 3 Coaching Mistakes Made by Good Sales Managers

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