21 Nov Missing Out On Millenials
I recently wrote about the war for sales talent, and how a shortage of sales skills is making it difficult for businesses, particularly SMEs and start-ups to grow, and this is happening against a backdrop of rising global unemployment, particularly amongst our younger generations.
In order to overcome barriers, grow sales forces and increase the bottom line sales leaders need to get creative in their search for suitable talent. This means exploring alternative options and developing innovative ways to attract and retain the right people in the right roles.
There is one group of individuals that are openly ambitious, super confident and fit the bill perfectly.
What does this digitally adept, socially conscious and highly dynamic individual look for in a career? What attracts them to a role? And how can you maximise their effectiveness as both employees and leaders of the future?
The lie of the Millennial
Millenials, or Generation Y as they’re sometimes called, are broadly considered to be those individuals who were born in the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s. Often unfairly portrayed as entitled, lazy and only interested in instant gratification, they’re frequently branded as shallow and described as choosing to spend their time taking selfies and checking out celebrities on Instagram. The general consensus seems to be that millennials shy away from hard graft and aren’t willing to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.
But nothing could be further from the truth!
Millenials hold the key to the future of business success and as they’ll make up the majority of the workforce by 2025 it’s about time we sat up and took note.
The plain fact is Millennials have had a raw deal. Generation Y is projected to be the first generation in recorded history that will be worse off than any previous generations.
Millenials not only mostly came of age at the outset of the global financial crisis, but also amid a vast acceleration in digital technology, a changing socio-political climate, and persistent economic instability, all of which have disrupted our whole way of life.
Our Generations Y’ers only know uncertainty, they’ve higher debts at a younger age and are justifiably anxious about their future in a world that presents numerous threats and poses very real questions regarding their personal prospects. Life’s not all fine dining and cigars from a Millennial’s perspective.
As a result of this instability and uncertainty Millenials have developed a very different set of motivations and workplace expectations to their predecessors. So what exactly is it that Millenials want?
The Millennial Mystery
Across the globe, Millennials have been poked, prodded and studied to pinpoint their very specific requirements from a career and an employer. The resulting data is varying and sometimes conflicting, but the following factors are unanimously agreed upon.
Opportunities to grow – Millenials are personally driven and seek roles that allow for growth and development. They want to progress quickly in their careers and look for training opportunities that allow them to gain knowledge and experience, ultimately helping them to progress quickly in their careers.
Feeling valued – It’s important for a Millennial to be recognised for their achievements, this helps them feel supported and that their work is significant. They strive for recognition, reward, and praise for a job well done.
Social Interaction – Millennials place high importance on social interaction within their workplace, more so than any other generation, and often cite this as being a key factor in choosing an employer. Millenials like to make new friends and have fun too, and the best place to do this is at work.
Control over their work – Clear direction but autonomy to manage their own schedule and workload is primal to keeping a Millenial engaged. Allow them to create a work/life balance that suits their lifestyle and you’ll have a happier, more productive employee in return.
Variety and challenge – Entrepreneurial in spirit, Millenials like to have a sense that they are moving toward something and gaining a variety of experiences. Opportunities to be innovative and creative will feed their thirst for curiosity and new challenges.
A sense of belonging – Generation Y’ers have a strong sense of social responsibility and look at company culture and a mission that extends beyond the bottom line. Millennials value company culture more than any other generation that’s come before them and want to be part of something meaningful.
Financial stability – Due to the level of economic instability Millenials have observed, they’re more risk averse and therefore prefer roles that offer a higher degree of financial security, tending to shy away from commission based roles.
Coached not managed – Old school management styles don’t fly with Millenials who prefer to be encouraged through coaching and mentoring, allowing individuals to learn through their own experience rather than the direction of others.
A Millennial Opportunity
Millenials are the most highly educated and technologically advanced of all generations, they are creative thinkers, communicators, and innovators, and are the world’s first digital natives. They are also highly driven to succeed which, according to PWC’s report on Millenials in the workplace, sometimes causes conflict within multi-generational workplaces.
Craving meaningful social interaction and collaboration, enriching experiences over material wealth, Millennials relish opportunities to develop and progress quickly with their careers, and it’s exactly this mindset and behaviour that can be hugely advantageous to a career as a sales professional.
Able to adopt technology faster than any other generation and adept at using social platforms to build relationships and networks, Millennials also super comfortable using digital tools, such as CRM, to do their job.
Their strong sense of social responsibility means they’re committed to helping customers find creative solutions to problems and their desire for social interaction and collaboration means they value the relationship they build with customers, all key ingredients for a successful salesperson.
Fit for a Millenial
Looking at the wish list of a millennial it’s easy to see why a commission based role in sales may not be the number one choice for generation Y. Millenials are also reported to perceive sales as manipulative and exploitive, and this hardly fits with their principles.
So how do sales leaders attract and retain this mysterious species?
If you want to successfully attract rain-making millennials to your sales team you need to get creative and consider what’s important to them. It’s your turn to sell your sales roles and your organisation to potential candidates, below are some tips and ideas that you may want to consider.
- Find ways to promote collaborative selling. Encouraging your Millenial sales superstars to work as a team will increase engagement maximize effectiveness and produce startling sales results.
- As millennials value autonomy and flexibility, inspire individuals to find a working style that works for them, autocratic management styles will have a negative impact on Millennials, and they’ll simply complain with their feet.
- Consider offering a higher salary with a lower OTE that offers more financial security. Create benefits packages that have direct appeal, for example, a number of organisations have expanded their employee benefit programs to help reduce student loan debt for their employees, this is highly attractive to Millenials.
- Empower millennials with a variety of tasks and challenges that allow them to use their entrepreneurial drive and creativity, can you create opportunities for them to work in other parts of the business, or to travel and explore new cultures and countries?
- Develop a structured sales development programme that clearly illustrates a career progression pathway, enabling millennials to develop new skills and receive the coaching and mentorship needed to fulfil their career aspirations.
- Millennials want fulfilling and meaningful careers and to believe they’re making a difference. Sales roles should be focused on helping others solve problems with an emphasis on the need to understand customers and becoming a trusted adviser.
- Highlight your organisations social and charitable agenda and let candidates know how they can participate. Think of ways you can expand social interaction and doing good. Millenials want to work for a company that’s fun but also cares about them and the world in which they live.
Millenials are a creative, dynamic and highly ambitious generation that have all the ingredients to make excellent sales professionals. They’re also notoriously difficult to attract and even harder to retain, so sales leaders will have to use initiative and creativity to reshape sales roles that cater for their requirements and keep Millenials interested and engaged beyond the first two years.
Creating a dedicated sales academy not only demonstrates your organisation’s commitment to employee development but also illustrates a clear pathway for career progression, both of which are main differentiators when choosing an employer.
At S-Academy we have developed a systematic approach to attracting, training and developing Millennials. With expertise gained from world leading sales organization such as Cisco and FedEx, we know how to build high-calibre, high-performing sales teams that produce consistent results.
If you’d like to find out more about how we can help your business drop us me Inmail or visit our website at http://www.s-academy.co.uk.
About the author:
Anna Ashton is an award-winning sales strategist, author and professional problem solver with more than 20 years’ experience gained at the coal-face of international sales. She knows what it takes to be a top performer. Anna works with board executives and sales leaders to dramatically improve the performance of their sales organisations – particularly when it comes to creating winning sales strategies, motivating sales teams and developing new business.
Anna is Managing Director of S-Academy and can be contacted through her business networking site at https://www.linkedin.com/in/annaashton, visiting her business website at www.s-academy.co.uk or emailing her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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