This post on Millennial success was originally published on Nov 8, 2016 and updated on Feb 26, 2019.
4 Items Sales Managers Should Include in their Coaching Sessions
Worldwide, the population group called Millennials is just over 75M people in the US; that’s larger than the number of Baby Boomers. But for us sales managers, the employment numbers are more interesting. According to MarketWatch, the most recent numbers in 2017, tell us about 56M Millennials were either working or looking for a job. That beats out 53M GenXers, and 41M Baby Boomers.
When working with sales managers and leaders, they tell me they sometimes find great potential in their young workforce. Other times, they’re terrified the younger generation is too entitled or doesn’t have the core skills needed to excel.
We’ve already shown that Millennials can sell. When I consult with sales managers, here are four core elements I tell them to look for and develop to give their young salespeople a foundation of success in sales.
Get Them Comfortable with Failure
Salespeople must learn to fail early. There’s a lot of reaction in sales, and sometimes you completely miss. In general, I wouldn’t say companies are great at embracing failure, but they oftentimes grow from it; your salespeople will too. The trick here is framing it as a learning experience so they can perform a behavior correction the next time they face a similar situation.
Here’s a recommendation: have them run a meeting or ask for an order 3-6 months in and don’t bail them out. Just be sure to perform the postmortem after the event to review what went well and what could be improved.
Develop their Impromptu Skills
Most interactions in sales happen quickly and they have to be aware of what their prospect is doing and adjust their responses on the fly. But most sales managers don’t train that way. At Tyson Group, we’ve done call center research showing that on average, the salesperson has 7 seconds to get a prospect’s attention. It’s hard to win favorable attention quickly in sales, especially when you are new to the field. And trainers make it worse by training around long role-playing sessions. Instead, focus and develop your young salespeople’s extemporaneous skills.
This is important to Millennials. Whether they’re chasing Instagram likes or a potential promotion, this is a generation where metric scoreboards matter way more than they did for the Boomers. Competition drives their efforts. Don’t believe me? Ask your kid who scored the most goals in their last soccer game, they’ll know. The challenge is using that to boost motivation and change behavior. When operating our call center, we constantly used games and contests to drive performance. We rewarded performance, we kept score, and for the Millennials, it was a source of motivation. My suggestion, segment your recognition system along generational lines and let competition drive your young people.
Focus on Profitable Action
Research from MIT shows the third most popular reason for unproductive people is “assigning people pointless work.” We do that to young salespeople all the time. If young salespeople aren’t actually selling, they can’t grow into the position. As sales managers, we can’t have our young salespeople digitally paper-pushing all day. You hired them to be salespeople, not administrators. So throw them in the pool, give them some coaching and training, and let them drive some revenue!
These are only 4 topics you should consider when hiring and developing your young people. I think it’s fair to say as sales managers, we can’t assume a one-size-fits-all attitude when considering training and coaching like our predecessors did with their salespeople in the good-old days. Today, we need to assess our salespeople’s skills, train to educate, and coach to performance in order to get the best out them.
Stay tuned. We’ll be hitting on various leadership topics for sales managers in future posts.
And if you are looking for ideas you can get into your salespeople’s hands today, check out Lance Tyson’s book, Selling Is An Away Game: Close Business and Compete in a Complex World available on Amazon. Get your copy today!