Welcome to Episode 12 of the Sales Influencer Series, where we interview leaders on the cutting edge of sales and marketing. Our guest for this episode is Ryan Jenkins, an in-demand speaker, writer and podcast host who specializes in topics near and dear to our hearts: The Millennial workforce, business leadership, and enterprise technology.
Those issues comprise the overarching themes of this episode. So if you manage a millennial-driven sales force, you've come to the right place. Ryan's bona fides on millennial sales management are very strong. Prior to launching his own business, Ryan came from an enterprise sales background. Over the last 3 years, he's consulted the likes of Coca-Cola, Con-Agra Foods and the FAA on effective Millennial management. Ryan has also authored hundreds of articles, books, videos and other media educating leaders on the topic of optimizing Millennials.
In this interview, we asked Ryan several of the foremost questions that trouble sales force leadership today. The audio is below - as are time stamps of each topic we covered over our 30 minute discussion. Enjoy.
Ep. 12: Leading a Millennial Sales Team
1. Ryan's Background: 0:00 - 4:38.
Synopsis: Ryan started his career in technology sales, using a consultative sales approach to sell into large businesses. Entered the position with lots of energy, optimism and ambition, but became severely frustrated with poor leadership and outdated corporate infrastructure.
Felt his ambition and energy flagging, but continued on thinking it was just a personal tension with the corporate world. But after several years in the corporate world and lots of discussion with colleagues and peers, discovered these feelings were much widespread than just him.
Spent years studying leadership, work culture and technology. Interviewed hundreds of Millennials (those born in the 80s and 90s) who will be 25 percent of the global workforce by 2025. Launched his own business 3 years ago to help organizations better lead, communicate, engage and sell to the emerging workforce generations of Millennials and Gen-Z.
Ryan devotes himself full-time to going around the country and speaking to organizations about Millennial management. He runs the Next Generation Catalyst Blog, which has over 250 articles about generational management issues on it, and also runs a podcast series where he interviews other experts in his field.
2. Improving Leadership Over Millennials: 4:39 - 10:12.
Synopsis: Managers tend to lead people based on how they prefer to be led. Many miss the boat because Millennials are a different type of human -- more interested in meaningful work. Get to know your workforce.
Connect with them and be proactive; don't wait for them to get to know you. Take the first action and set the example. Ask how previous leaders led them, what worked and didn't work. Engage in reverse mentoring, where Millennials teach you what they think leadership is.
3. Leveraging Millennial Values: 10:13 - 15:12.
Synopsis: Millennials value lifestyle and relationships over work. Sales leaders leverage that to their advantage -- a recent study found that sales professionals were the most happy professionals.
Biggest reason: They know how they're doing. Sales is one of the most flexibility-enabled professions. Leaders sometimes cringe at flexibility. But by leveraging technology, they can create more flexibility in a way that increases, rather than diminishes effort.
Millennials value relationship - they want community with the people they work with. So creating a more unique, collaborative and meaningful work environment in your sales force will help.
Millennials also often choose a city before they choose a job. The more skew your culture to be lifestyle and relationship based, the better.
4. Retaining & Recruiting Millennials: 15:13 - 20:43
Synopsis: “The #1 reason Millennials leave organizations is the lack of career opportunity.” Leaders should promote career opportunities, make them visible and creating a blueprint for how employees can move into those opportunities.
The underlying key here is development. In the sales context, if you can offer training in public speaking or copywriting, for example, that will empower them as professionals, you'll maximize them while increasing likelihood of them to remain loyal.
If there's not a natural opportunity for progression in your organization, use technology and virtual training to help ensure that they're feeling personal professional growth. Offer opportunities to sharpen their sales skills.
The average tenure for Millennials in sales is 2 years. You may also have to tailor your expectations to the reality here -- for example, adapting your training and onboarding with the knowledge that Millennials may come in, run hard for you for 18-24 months, then move on.
5. Millennial Feedback & Communication: 20:44 - 24:52.
Synopsis: A recent study on workplace feedback found a major distinction between Boomers and Millennials. When Boomers aren't receiving feedback from their supervisors, they see it as a positive. When Millennials aren't receiving feedback, they start to panic.
Recognize those difference and coach and lead around those gaps. Millennials have shorter attention spans. They grew up playing video games and accessing technology that gave them a constant feedback loop.
Think about how you can create constant feedback loops in your workplace. Example: Ryan spoke with a supervisor who sat in his car after work each day and shoot off a text offering "correction or direction" to each of his sales reps.
Another example: General Electric just changed their 30-year old performance review process to an App. This provides frequent, mobile and digitally accessed feedback.
6. Enhancing Millennials via Technology: 24:53 - 28:15.
Synopsis: Embrace technology. Stop denying access to social networks. The sales environment has changed -- just think about your own experiences as a consumer.
Example: When Ryan was picking out a DJ for his wedding, he did tons of research online and chose a DJ because he had such a vibrant community on Twitter. He then emailed the DJ and ended up becoming a client.
Whether you're selling to businesses or consumers, your prospective buyers are being sold based on their digital experience with your company. The sales game is about attraction now. Put out blog posts, testimonials, etc. That's how the attraction and sales conversations begin.
Hack your own behavior. Lean into technology. It can unleash a Millennial to find creative ways to make your product or service stand out. Technology is the great equalizer.
7. Where to Find & Contact Ryan: 28:16 - 29:09.
The Sales Influencer Series Library
To check out further episodes and see why CloserIQ has ranked the Sales Influencer Series as one of the very best sales podcasts of 2016, just click on the links below.
Episode 1. John Barrows
Episode 2. Lori Richardson
Episode 3. Max Altschuler
Episode 4. Matt Heinz
Episode 5. Mark Leslie
Episode 6. Kyle Porter
Episode 7. Jon Bradford
Episode 8. Eks Anderson
Episode 9. Matt Hottle
Episode 10. Heather Morgan
Episode 11. Ilan Ferdman
Episode 12. Ryan Jenkins
Episode 13. Tamara Schenk
Episode 14. Mike Weinberg
Episode 15. Scott Britton
Episode 16. Mark Kosoglow
Episode 17. Dionne Mischler
Episode 18. Ken Barton
Episode 19. Kevin Karner
Episode 20. Jill Rowley
Episode 21. Brandon Redlinger
Episode 22. Will Wickey
Episode 23. Drew Woodcock
Episode 24. Dail Wilson
Episode 25. Nathan Sexton
Episode 26. Tucker Max
Episode 27. Bruce Tulgan
Episode 28. Dallas Hogensen
Episode 29. Morgan J. Ingram