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Getting the Most Out of Millennials

Dec. 9, 2014 · Jeremy Boudinet · 9 Minute Read

By 2025, Millennials will comprise 75 percent of the workforce. Over the next decade, an influx of Millennials into the workplace will create the need for management to adapt accordingly in its efforts to cultivate motivation, loyalty, and engagement from its Millennial workers.

New approaches to employee recognition and incentives will be required to target this demographic. I spoke with BlueBoard Co-Founder and CEO (and Millennial) Taylor Smith about the best practices for sales motivation, improving organizational culture, and cultivating loyalty in this new era of the American workplace.

An Interview with Blueboard CEO Taylor Smith

Do you know what makes your Millennial employees tick? Ambition Marketing Director Jeremy Boudinet and BlueBoard CEO Taylor Smith are here to help.

JB: Thanks for joining me on this call, Taylor. Tell everyone about BlueBoard, how you got started, the unique traits and value of the product.

TS: Sure thing. I actually started this company with an old friend. We had just graduated and were working big corporate jobs -- I was in consulting and he was in accounting -- and we made this commitment to start going out and getting involved in more extracurricular activities after work.

So the premise of Blueboard was really, how do we get more of our peers in generation out and about, doing new things that will add to their life experiences. And that's when we began exploring the how we could make that happen. In researching and asking to a lot of people, "Why aren't you joining more clubs or having more life experiences?" the overarching thing was that it's hard to justify the expense.

People are still programmed to buy material goods. If you get a $500 bonus at work, it's so much easier to buy and iPad than, say, buy lessons to kite surf.Even though it's proven that lessons to kite surf will make us happier in both the short term and the long term, and we'll enjoy it more, we're still just programmed as consumers to buy material things. And we decided to make it our mission to change that.

*Ed. Note: Sound quality works best with headphones.

JB: What seems to distinguish you guys is how you conceptualize employee recognition and incentives: You're big believers in providing these powerful, memorable experiences as an alternative form of recognition.  What are some of the issues you see with Gamification and how it motivates people?

TS: I think the issue is that the early companies that launched Gamification -- like Bunchball and Badgeville -- got some flack because what they were attempting to do was a little bit oversimplified, like the beginning of any industry.

Gamification got hailed as the next big thing, but the product and the value it was offering wasn't robust enough to provide the values companies are looking for. And what I mean by that is, when you're looking at Leaderboards and Badges, it's all about extrinsic motivation, geared around users looking at how they compare to their peers.

Of course, leaderboards aren't completely negative motivational tools, there's a reason Sales Managers have been using them for ages. But a lot of the value there is created out of anxiety about competing with your peers, looking where you stand, seeing the clock ticking, and so forth.Which seems to be something you guys at Ambition have honed in on, as well. The first time I heard about you, it was through one of your customers, iCracked, whose office is near ours in San Francisco.

I went in and was talking with their Business Development Manager, Dallas Holgensen, and he started raving about Ambition and the unique approach you guys take to motivating and empowering their Sales Teams.   

At the end of our conversation, I asked that he connect me with you guys because I really enjoyed his stories and how passionate he was about your product. It was kind of serendipitous.

 
JB: I interviewed Dionne Mischler, President of AAISP's Chapter of the Year, several months ago. We talked a lot about incentives and the types of rewards she gives to her Sales Force are essentially identical to those Blueboard offers. How are managers using Blueboard? 
 
TS: There are several ways we're being used right now. Essentially, companies use us however they see fit to help meet their business objectives. In some Sales Organizations its the quarterly SPIF (Sales Performance Incentive Fund). Like with Ambition, the contests they typically ran ranged around a set of variable metrics, whether it's being "x" percent above your sales quota or emerging as the top all-around sales person for that particular quarter.

Another shared trait we have with Ambition is that  we also extend beyond sales and can be used elsewhere within an organization as well. In some cases we're used as a tenure reward, as a "Thank you for staying with company 'x' amount of time." We're also used as a company-wide, "Employee of the Month/Quarter" type of award as well.

So we're used across the entire organization. And that takes us to the final, unique thing about both Blueboard and Ambition: We're really committed to helping achieve business objectives.

How we accomplish that has a lot to do with our the brand we've built around Blueboard: At the surface level, we signify that we're a fun and bubbly company, and thus something an employee can really get excited and rally around when we get involved with a particular organizational cause.

People and enterprise fear change, they fear being challenged. What we're doing is providing a really powerful tool to help companies instill organizational incentives and change. How? By providing an incentive that is actually exciting and possesses a deeper meaning.

When you try to align your people around a new goal or a new way of doing things, you need to displace skepticism and apathy with excitement and commitment, if you're going to succeed and make the process as painless as possible. That's where we get involved, and it really all goes back to facilitating change and growth in companies.

You guys talk a lot about aligning incentives, which is also something we've committed ourselves to, I think, fairly successfully. How employees perceive us -- as this fun, experiential company -- is powerful. At the same time, the Managers and VP's we're work with at companies also know that we're experts at motivation and getting the required business objectives out of their teams.  

To sum it up, the ultimate goal of Blueboard is to build an incredible brand that induces people to get truly excited about change and growth at organizations. That's our goal.

JB: I love Blueboard's premise and you guys strike me as being very attuned to the new paradigms that come with a Millennial-based workforce. What are they and how do they factor in with Blueboard's mechanism for adding value.

When it comes to things like employee incentives, we're definitely part of this larger macroeconomic shift that's taking place -- where there's less money being spent on material goods, and more money being spent on experiences.  

Going back to the initial origins of Blueboard, the economic indicators suggest that more people are age are feeling the same pull towards getting out of their house and undertaking new, exciting that will create memories and help them grow.

It's all about what Millennials take pride in having.  And for previous generations that was largely material things -- a new car and so forth. But now when our peers get big bonus check, they're not buying a car or saving for a mortgage,  they're spending it on a weeklong tour of Southeast Asia. 

Really, our consumption habits our changing. And what Blueboard is designed to do is make your company "sticky" by providing incentives that actually matter to people and that they'll take pride in when they're actually rewarded.

We also really enjoy working with companies that place a premium on engaging the workforce and standing for something like experiential incentives.  

For example, GoPro, EventBrite and Optimize.ly are all clients of ours that really embody this movement of: "What cool things can we do for our employees that ensure they love working with us?"

And despite what people say, I think that at the end of the day, Millennials take a lot of pride in what it means to be a part of a company. I'm excited to see how Blueboard and Ambition help foster that sensibility going forward.

Create Modern Sales Culture with Ambition

Ambition is a sales management platform that syncs every sales organization department, data source, and performance metric on one easy system.

Ambition clarifies and publicizes real-time performance analytics for your entire sales organization. Using a drag-and-drop interface, non-technical sales leaders can build custom scorecards, contests, reports, and TVs.

Ambition is endorsed by Harvard Business Review, AA-ISP (the Global Inside Sales Organization), and USA Today as a proven solution for managing millennial sales teams. Hear from our customers below.

Watch Testimonials:

  1. FiveStars: Adam Wall. Sr. Manager of Sales Operations . 
  2. Filemaker: Brad Freitag. Vice-President of Worldwide Sales.
  3. Outreach: Mark Kosoglow. Vice-President of Sales.
  4. Cell Marque: Lauren Hopson. Director of Sales & Marketing.
  5. Access America Transport: Ted Alling. Chief Executive Officer.

Watch Product Walkthroughs:

  • ChowNow. Led by Vice-President of Sales, Drew Woodcock.
  • Outreach. Led by Sales Development Manager, Alex Lynn.
  • AMX Logistics. Led by Executive Vice-President ,Jared Moore.

Read Case Studies:

  1. Clayton HomesHBR finds triple-digit growth in 3 sales efficiency metrics. 
  2. Coyote Logistics: Monthly revenue per broker grew $525 in 6 months.
  3. Peek: Monthly sales activity volume grew 142% in 6 months.
  4. Vorsight: Monthly sales conversations grew 300% in 6 months.

Contact us to learn how Ambition can impact your sales organization today.

About Ambition
Sales Leaders, HR Professionals, and C-Level Executives use Ambition to recognize, motivate, and develop employees into more engaged and productive versions of themselves. Funded by Google, used by the Fortune 500, endorsed by the Harvard Business Review.
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