For the past six years I have been working with many sales teams comprised mainly of millennials or young adults from the ages of 22 to 30 and I realized I had to learn how to effectively train and develop the "sales army of the future." Along this journey, I have listened to many derogatory pronouncements about their lack of commitment, potential and ability and have found most of them are sweeping, unfounded generalizations. Furthermore, I feel it's time to harness millennials' boundless sales energy as well as to be open to what they can teach us on how to maximize their future success as well as our own.
Let's dispel some of the pervasive myths. In general, millennials fall into the same 20/60/20 breakdown as the rest of the world. About 20 percent of them are high performers, 60 percent are variable producers and the remaining 20 percent, at the low end of the equation. Unfortunately, the entire group is judged by the bottom 20 percent who still live in their parents' basements and play video games. The top 20 percent, on the other hand, possess an impressive sales' skill set and simply need to be nurtured by their employers.
This generation has often been classified by those who don't bother to verify their presumptions as "entitled" and spoiled as well as "the land of 7th place trophies" where everyone is recognized for showing up.
Millennials are judged to be more focused on their job's social elements than their "nose to the grindstone" critics would like.
True, perhaps, for the bottom 20 percent, but the top 20 percent with whom I have interacted have "lobbied" for a culture of fun and performance by combining their need for social interactions with their managers' need for performance.
The following are tools you can use to motivate your millennials and achieve astounding success:
1. Make training and development a priority. Build a sales methodology, create a realistic behavior model for success and broaden the path to achievement. Put curbs on the road's shoulders to inhibit distractions, but don't force them to drive down the centerline.
2. Train managers to focus on coaching and mentoring, not micromanaging activity. Millennials need a significant amount of one-on-one work to gain traction. Their efforts should be shadowed and individualized coaching offered in a trustworthy environment to alleviate their fear of social rejection.
3. Analyze the company's sales culture and incorporate values for quality of life and fun. Millennials work for more than just a paycheck, combining their and the company's needs assures a win/win for all.
4. Build a culture where millennials stay to thrive as they typically change jobs every 18 months, so eager are they to explore opportunities in new and "more" exciting companies.
5. Build a behavior-driven approach to success as behavior, not a time clock, is key. Develop the top 10 sales behaviors for the position, a timeline for execution and performance indicators to measure growth.
6. Incorporate millennials' passion for involvement in social causes and giving back into your culture; their interests transcend just making a sale.
I challenge you to take a hard look at any stereotypical beliefs you have about this army and commit, instead, to its nurturing, development and success.
Keep an open mind, there will be low performers, but don't let their failure convince you to abandon the top 20 percent who will soar with the leadership only you can provide!
• Bill Bartlett owns Corporate Strategies, A Sandler Training Center. email@example.com. Text "SalesTip" to 71813 to receive Bill's bi-weekly newsletter.