I often get asked about coaching millenials—the youngest members of the sales force (under age 34), who are the fastest growing segment in today’s workforce.
While sweeping statements about an entire generation can never be 100% true for any individual, there are a few factors that do separate millennial salespeople from both Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers. For example, millenials are the first generation to be considered “digital natives.” They’ve been around technology their entire lives, and see technology as helping them be more flexible in both their work and private lives. You may not have to master all forms of technology yourself, but you better create a workplace where the millennials can, or they may view your company as inefficient. When it comes to coaching millennial salespeople, here are some tips:
Millennials are much more egalitarian than prior generations in ways that relate not just to issues like workforce diversity but also to who gets a say in decisions. They expect their opinions, ideas and creativity to be valued. As their sales coach, encourage the opinions, creative output, tech skills and the general enthusiasm your millennials bring to the sales team. Be sure and let them know when and where their ideas have been implemented. A good tool for idea sharing is a Sales Playbook. This platform documents “best practices” your sales team identifies for every stage of selling, captured as example scripts, tactics and methods.
Millennials have a strong desire to find meaning and purpose in what they do. They are far less motivated by money —or perhaps just far more comfortable admitting that money isn’t their primary motivator — than any previous generation. As a sales coach, it is your job to help a millennial salesperson determine the “why” in what they do. Communicate the overarching mission, values of the company, and the greater good that their contributions can provide. Perhaps redefine for them the culture of selling.
Millenials have a strong desire for professional development. Overwhelmingly, they want to be in a workplace that offers them training opportunities and on-going feedback so they can continually improve their job performance. The challenge for you is that this takes more time on your part. You have to be very savvy in how you control your own time so you can spend more of it coaching. For specific suggestions on taking charge of your time, see items 2, 3, 4 and 12 in http://www.toplineleadership.
Perhaps the best news about millenials is that they are probably the most coachable members of your team. When your more senior tenured salespeople notice the millennials gaining on them—and sometimes passing them by—they will realize they need to work even harder to compete! The better the job you do of coaching your millennials, the greater the positive impact on your sales team as a whole.