Millennials…they are weird and wonderful…they are different.
Good for them, but why in the world should I care? I’m a Baby Boomer or a Gen Xr…what does all this millennial stuff got to do with me?
How ‘bout this for a reason you should care…
According to Forbes Business, by the year 2020, millennials will make up approximately 52% of the workforce, which means, if you are a sales leader, over half your sales team will be made up of these strange creatures and the majority of people you’ll have to SELL products and services to will be millennials!
To be successful LEADING millennials or SELLING to them, you’ll have to know…
…what drives them
…what triggers to use to inspire them
…and how they ‘tick’
Millennials are DIFFERENT
This generation highly values the experiences they have. For this group, happiness—a happy life—is about creating, sharing and capturing memories earned through experiences that span the spectrum of life’s opportunities, including those experiences that occur at work.
TEAMS (And teamwork)
For sales leaders, there’s some very good news, most millennials are more comfortable working ON and IN TEAMS. They are not the ‘Lone Wolf’ Baby Boomer of the past. Generally, they don’t want to be left alone. For those of us that enjoy coaching and developing people this is awesome to know.
Oh…they like technology…a lot! They are inherently digitally brilliant and they use more technology (by far) than any other generation. This is also good news if you are part of a sales environment that is pushing forward from a technology standpoint. These millennials will be your early adopters for every tech-based platform you are promoting. They won’t fight you.
SOCIAL CONSCIOUS (Giving back)
Their social mindset is also a significant factor. One of the characteristics of millennials is that they are primed to do well by doing good. Almost 70 percent of millennials say that giving back and being civically engaged are high priorities.
CREATIVITY (Problem Solving)
Millennials have an intense desire to be creative. They’ve grown up in a time where information and solutions have always been available instantly through a Google or Wikipedia search. Answers to complicated questions can be accessed quickly. As such, millennials have developed into a generational group that wants to work on new and tough problems, and ones that require creative solutions.
Significantly, they expect that they will get the opportunity to act on their OWN IDEAS and that the higher ups would have already figured that out.
More good news for enlightened sales leaders…millennial salespeople are interested in feedback on their performance, but semi-annual reviews are too infrequent for them. They want to know that they’ve done a good job, and they want to know NOW.
They seem to like things such as checklists and they want plenty of help. They thrive when you reward them for innovating and taking appropriate risks and when you provide them with mentors inside of a team-oriented culture.
However, feedback must be given to them in a specific way. While the timing and frequency of your coaching is important, the way in which feedback is framed and delivered is also critical. For example, a few short accolades of “good job” can be overshadowed (in the millennial’s mind) by off-the-cuff frequent criticisms…ones without guidance as to how exactly they can improve.
Whether positive or negative, feedback needs to be delivered to them in a way that leaves no room for misunderstanding.
Feedback needs to be clear and specific to be effective. While enlightened leaders and coaches have always practiced this, the skill becomes even more important with this generation.
Creating engagement strategies for millennials will be one of leaderships’ biggest challenges. Sales leaders who have developed successful strategies for engaging and retaining Baby Boomers are going to have to put those strategies in the corporate archives. Creating tactics to engage millennials requires a whole different approach.
If leaders wish to motivate and engage their millennials, their OUT-OF-DATE ‘one-size fits all’ approach won’t work!
You can have macro-messaging for your organization as a whole, but you also have to develop micro-communication strategies for the individual millennial. Many Baby Boomer leaders are ‘stuck’ in old habits and are not flexible. This inflexibility and unwillingness to change will sink them.
Again, millennials like feedback from above. They want to know what needs change, what can be fine-tuned. They are open to what they should do MORE or LESS of, etc. They are even receptive to negative feedback, but they like knowing where they stand, and what the clear expectations are. Leaders should begin conversations in their own organizations and push to learn which triggers they can adjust to increase engagement.
So the BIG message of this blog is…
…generational gaps do exist!
Drivers and triggers should be categorized by generation. This is going to be a very new and STEEP learning curve for a lot of older leaders and, quite frankly…
…some of them may simply not be up to the task, and if they’re not, they should TAP OUT and step aside!
So, having an engagement strategy is not enough. Your strategies must be ALIGNED with the generation—the actual people—you are trying to coach and drive.
Interestingly enough, one of the most popular engagement drivers in the minds of millennials is YOU managing their performance.
That’s right…you heard it…
Performance management is the number one overall driver of millennials!
If you are a competent leader (and love coaching people) this is great news. But you have to know how to do it right and you have to remember and practice these three rules when coaching them to higher performance:
- Timing of coaching – Without delay
- Frequency of coaching – Often
- Delivery of feedback – Clear and specific
You are probably wondering what the greatest engagement threat to a millennial is.
Organizational REPUTATION is the greatest engagement threat!
Highly engaged millennial salespeople are proud of the organizations they work for. When perceptions of organizational reputations are damaged or become negative, a decrease in engagement will spread throughout the millennial workforce. Engaged millennial salespeople are emotionally attached to their organizations, and when employer reputation changes, so does their relationship with the organization.
This is interesting stuff to me. I’m really enjoying creating training content around this topic. I’m spending time studying how we can SELL to and LEAD this quickly rising generation of people.
Some of this content is making its way into our exclusive CAP 101 program. If you haven’t had a chance to take a better look at this body of work I can strongly suggest you do. It is over 20 hours of our best frontline sales content. If you are a leader this would be a great program for you to have so that you can begin passing on some of the methods to your team for increased production.
If you are a frontline salesperson, this content can be extremely valuable in helping you get sharper and not MISS commission-generating opportunities.
I have prepared a page that will help you understand this platform better. Take a quick look at CAP 101 here:
CLICK HERE: http://www.thecapequation.com/cap101
Also, if you haven’t had a chance to read or review my book, The CAP Equation, you can click on the link below.
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Joe Buzzello is a nationally recognized expert on direct selling and sales leadership. He has built legacy sales teams and experienced unprecedented success in individual and business-to-business markets as well as the network marketing industry. Joe has held executive level positions for Fortune 500 companies, but he has never strayed far from the art and science of selling, which he loves. In early 2014, Joe began writing, speaking, and coaching through his proprietary platform, The CAP Equation©. Please visit Joe at: http://www.CAPequation.com