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Your Guide to Managing Millennial Sales Reps

July 29, 2015 · Jeremy Boudinet · 11 Minute Read

Effective management of Millennial sales professionals will be a key determiner of greater sales team success over the next 5-10 years. Here's a quick field guide [and LinkedIn group] to ensure you're on point.

Over the past 15 months, we've covered a great deal about Millennials. Be it best practices for recruiting, retaining or maximizing Millennial talent, we've touched upon the subject with great frequency and particular attention to the sales profession.

What follows in this article is a field guide for sales managers. Those charged with running Millennial-fueled sales forces, winning the War for Millennial Talent, and figuring out how to reach the uniquely complex young sales reps they count upon to succeed.

Managing Millennial Sales Reps

This guide is designed to steer sales managers through the various issues they often face in dealing with Millennial sales reps.

Rather than ask you to take our word for it, we've compiled insights from premiere experts in sales, marketing and operations leadership. The goal: To provide a primer for effectively managing Millennial sales reps.

Overview: Managing Millennial Sales Reps

Before we dive in, here are a few articles from the Ambition Blog that outline core developments pertaining to the Millennial sales force.

  1. 5 Ways to Keep Millennials Loyal to Your Company
  2. How to Attract Top Millennial Talent
  3. The State of the American Workplace: 2004-2014

For expert insight, the following excerpts from our interview with Redhawk CEO Matt Hottle offer a good overview of some best practices.

"Costs of talent replacement and onboarding are rising dramatically. It's imperative that your talent scouting, recruiting and onboarding are streamlined for maximum efficiency. In terms of talent scouting, grant less weight to prior industry experience and focus more on core skills. Don't make the mistake of hiring a candidate just because you don't see a "red flag" on his or her resume. In terms of talent acquisition and onboarding, having a repeatable process is key. Without a repeatable process, you can't determine which areas are working and which need improvement.  In terms of talent retainment, understand that Millennial motivations are different. Don't default to cash as your motivator. Embrace recognition of achievement." The Sales Influencer Series Presents: Matt Hottle. [11:25 mark].

Process: Managing Millennial Sales Reps

An emphatic point, made over and over again and backed by historical data, is that sales forces, especially those in inside sales, perform better with a codified, monitored sales process.

In terms of Millennials, leading technology sales consultant and Sales from the Streets founder John Barrows has some tremendous insights on the types of sales processes where Millennials tend to excel. 

"If you give [Millennials] structure, they will execute. So that's where managers have to really figure out -- how much structure can I put in place here? Without bumping up against: 'Here's the script. Here's the template email. Here's the list of questions I want you to ask, and you're going to get dinged for each one you miss.' Developing the right structure, or foundation, is critical. You need to give Millennial reps something to work with where they can apply their own personality, style and approach to that structure. Without being like, 'Okay, here's your quota. Figure it out. Good luck.' That's not going to work either." The Sales Influencer Series Presents: John Barrows. 

Training: Managing Millennial Sales Reps

Effective training and coaching is a pivotal part of sales organization success. We've covered this topic at great length on the Ambition Blog and interviewed dozens of today's leading minds on modern sales coaching.

One of those is Heinz Marketing CEO Matt Heinz, who's renowned for having a strong pulse on what resonates with millennials. This excerpt from our Sales Influencer Series interview eschews "sales kickoffs" and doubles down on asserting a need for continuous, consistent coaching.

"I don’t buy that argument that lack of time is the cause of lack of training. You’re not training the reps because your’e choosing to allocate time elsewhere. I’m a big believer that time and money are one in the same -- setting aside time to develop Sales Reps should be seen as an investment. Failure to training your reps is like failing to incentivize their success. Right now, I see a lot of companies trying to outsource training and spending lots of money bringing in experts to give an hour-long presentation to the sales team. Here's why that's a bad idea. Let's say you decide to throw a blowout sales kickoff, and you bring in this big name speaker who gives a 60 minute presentation with great insights on social selling. Everyone has their notepads out and is engaged, and you think you're all set. But then once the presentation is over, the speaker leaves your sales team hearing about a different aspect of sales, your product, or what have you. And they spend the rest of the afternoon doing that. Guess what -- by the end of the day, your reps have forgotten almost everything they’ve just learned about social selling. My point being: You have to keep coaching and continue training throughout the year in order to keep people developing. People's attention spans are shorter than ever these days, and it's scientifically proven that repeating the same information to people at intervals over time is the best way for them to retain that information and keep it fresh in their minds for the duration of their professional careers." The Sales Influencer Series Presents: Matt Heinz.

One of our posts also generated this insightful commentary from Bridge Group CEO Trish Bertuzzi, who captures the role that sales enablement plays in millennial sales training and onboarding: 

"I think it is important to note that the underlying reason ramp time is increasing so significantly is that SaaS companies are trending to hiring more and more recent college grads. This is primarily due to the lack of experienced talent in the market as well as the desire to keep selling costs low. Having said that, this necessitates a shift in how sales enablement creates onboarding programs. More time must be invested in learning industry, buyer and business issues prior to product and basic sales skills. Those that figure this out are those that win." How Sales Enablement Impacts the War for Talent. [Comments]

Incentives: Managing Millennial Sales Reps 

Millennials are driven by much more than money, and that goes for those in the sales industry. The Gen-Y mindset, for some sales managers, is providing a unique conundrum: how do I motivate reps using non-monetary incentives? John Barrows, Matt Heinz and Blueboard CEO Taylor Smith all have great insights here. 

"I was just discussing this with some VPs of Sales from Millennial-heavy companies, like ToutApp. And a lot of these kids coming into the workforce, especially in sales, don't see money as their top motivating factor. It's all about workplace environment and recognition. For me, it's really hard to swallow: A sales rep who is not motivated by money? If money is not one of your top motivators, what are you doing in sales, right? The fact is, Millennials grew up with iPods and the digital age, and they're used to instant gratification, where once they do something they receive an award. The Sales Influencer Series Presents: John Barrows.

"Millennials need recognition and experiential rewards. For example, at my office, we reward people by giving them balloons at their desk every time they achieve something. We've given a high performer a huge, 20-inch second monitor -- that gets people's attention. Well, when someone is sitting there with a ton of balloons at their desk, or a huge double monitor, it’s something everyone else in the office notices." The Sales Influencer Series Presents: Matt Heinz.

"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." Getting the Most Out of Millennials

Conclusions and Final Thoughts

Empowering millennial sales reps doesn't require a sea change in how your team operates. And as Mark Leslie himself attested in our recent interview, there's no difference in sales capabilities among generations. Managing millennial sales reps effectively is en route to becoming the major objective for sales managers in the U.S., if it isn't already. It's never too late to start focusing on how to optimize your own Millennial reps, and the sooner you start, the better.  

"I wouldn't say that the generational differences matter as much. It's driven by the product. If Millennials are the people who can't execute, then they're not the right ones for the business. But I don't think generations matter in terms of the ability to get the job done. Not every job is the right thing for every person, and that remains true regardless of generation." The Sales Influencer Series Presents: Mark Leslie.

Ambition: Sales Management Software for Millennials

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:

  1. ChowNow. Led by Vice-President of Sales, Drew Woodcock.
  2. Outreach. Led by Sales Development Manager, Alex Lynn.
  3. 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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