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The Key To Hiring and Retaining Millennial Sales Reps

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Millennials, who are we? It depends who you ask, but the general consensus seems to be those of us born between 1980-1995. Following the footsteps of Boomers (1946-1964) and Gen X (1965-1980), hordes of Millennials (also called Gen Y) are now joining the workforce.

It’s estimated that by 2020, roughly half of the US workforce will be Millennials. Lee Caraher, the San Francisco-based author of the book Millennials & Management comments, “A business without Millennials is a business without a future.”

Interestingly, when it comes to sales specifically, the qualities of a Millennial make us a great fit for the career. Sales gives us the opportunity to interact with a variety of people, the flexibility to create our own work/life balance, and of course, merit-based rewards.

As sales as a profession continues to shed its negative, greasy car-salesman perception, it is starting to catch the attention of more and more Millennials. So what are we looking for? Ping pong tables, open-concept offices and beer fridges may seem like the easiest way to lure us in; however, a look at the data suggests there is a little more to it. These are the 4 things you need to consider and manage to attract and retain top Millennial team members.

We Like Transparency

If you’re transparent, we’re transparent. A study commissioned by IBM in 2015 found, when asked what makes a “perfect boss,” Millennials said they want a manager “who’s ethical and fair” and “values transparency.” Interestingly, this response beat out other positive qualities such as “recognizes their accomplishments” and “values their input.”

Buffer, a social network service, turned a lot of heads by announcing their “Transparency Dashboard,” a web page that showcases their salaries, equity formula and even financial statements. Similarly, more and more companies are beginning to display their base salary and commission structures upfront. With this transparency, Millennials feel informed and valued by  their employers, traits that foster both top performance and loyalty.

We Want To Keep Learning

We’re on course to become the most educated generation in North American history. According to the most recent census, among 18 to 24 year olds, a record number, 41%, were enrolled in college as of 2012. Our Boomer parents have encouraged Millennials to value and appreciate continued education. We want to know that we will have the opportunity for personal development. By offering comprehensive training to new hires, you’ll draw top, young, talent to your company.

We also want to have the opportunity to continue learning in the workplace. IBM found 39% of us would opt to attend a third-party sponsored conference, 37% would attend classroom training and 36% would like to work with a mentor to learn on the job. The traditional “boss” or “manager” role is changing as well. A recent study by Intelligence Group found 79% of Millennials want their boss to serve more as a coach or mentor.

We’re Online, We’re Mobile, And We’re Using Marketplaces

So we’re looking for jobs, but where are we hiding? It’s unlikely you’ll find us browsing the Classifieds for an open role, in fact, some of us might not even know what what means.

We’re Online.

As Millennials, we were raised in a tech-savvy world. We’re the first digital natives to join the workforce, a major differentiator between us and older colleagues. We adopt and evaluate new technologies and methodologies twice as quickly as the general population. We’re also more than willing to teach these new tips to our co-workers (just ask!) and peers.

A recent report from Pew Research shocked old-school employers and recruiters, finding that 94% of smartphone job seekers (representing 26% of all American adults) have used their smartphone to browse or research job listings.

Finally, we are beginning to see the uprise of job matching marketplaces such as AngelList for startups, Wirkn for hourly workers and Ideal Candidate for salespeople. Ideal Candidate, specifically for salespeople, challenges the “gut feel hiring” that has traditionally plagued the sales recruitment industry and match candidates based on data. Millennials are attracted to the concept of matching not just to a role, but to a company’s overall corporate culture.

We Want To Make A Difference (And Commission)

Millennial research from the Intelligence Group found a record-breaking 64% of Millennials say it’s a priority for them to make the world a better place. Accordingly, we are also the first generation to believe that business can affect greater change than government.

The four issues most often cited as important to Millennials are reducing unemployment, reversing resource scarcity, protecting the environment, and addressing inequality of incomes and wealth.

When choosing an employer, 95% of Millennials say that a company’s reputation matters to them. By emphasizing the opportunity to disrupt, improve and build industries that we care about, you will capture the attention of passionate salespeople.

The Takeaway

Millennials. You may have heard of us in the same breath as “attention-hungry”, “self-centered” and “lazy.” Are we really 15 years worth of entitled brats? The data says otherwise.

Millennials will be an invaluable addition to the future of top performing sales teams. We’re eager to join your team and close your deals. After all, we’re all working towards the same goal: workplace happiness.

Good news: sales is rated as the 5th happiest job in America. Cherry on top: salespeople who are happier at work sell more.

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