Millennials are taking over, or they will in 2019 as their population grows to 73 million, surpassing the baby boomers who are declining to 72 million. As millennials become the largest age cohort in history, it’s no wonder they’re receiving so much attention.
There is a variety of misconceptions and stereotypes held about millennials in the workplace, but they won’t stick. Despite being labeled as lazy and gratification-seeking, the facts about millennials present a different story.
Influences on Millennials
According to a Goldman Sachs study, millennials have differing behaviors and experiences because they grew up during a time of vast technological change, globalization and economic disruption. Nielsen states that because “necessity is the daughter of invention,” adverse factors millennials were faced with such as the Great Recession, high unemployment, low income and high student loans have propelled them with a struggling, but entrepreneurial spirit.
It’s tough to generalize an entire demographic’s ideas, motivations and performance because individuals are so unique based on their diverse perspectives and lived experiences, but millennials are collectively marked by a few notable events in their life that may have gifted them with grit, passion and confidence, contrary to their reputation as entitled job-hoppers.
Turns out, young people just job-hop more in comparison to older employees. According to BBC, only one in 25 people born in the mid-80s moved jobs year from year in their 20s, and when Gen Xers were the same age, they were twice as likely to job-hop as millennials are today.
Millennials are estimated to take up to half of the workforce by 2020, and who knows how to sell to millennials better than millennials? Despite their former reputations, millennials are excellent at sales and it’s in your best interest to invest in them. All they need is the right enablement to cultivate their skills.
How to Incentivize Millennials in Sales
1. Provide Up-to-Date Sales Enablement Tools
Millennials adopt new technologies two times faster than the rest of the world. This familiarity with technology and data analytics is indispensable, particularly in sales for data and prospect targeting. If you keep your sales enablement tools up to date and provide millennials with more efficient ways to leverage technology, it will not only lead to an increase in sales, but they will also provide you with insights that can help your company.
Millennials approach selling as a science, utilizing empathy and data to educate buyers instead of persuading them. This method is becoming more effective as customers increasingly want to make informed purchasing decisions. Arming your millennials with the proper sales enablement tools and resources will enable them to effectively utilize data and technology in their sales practices with a focus on educating the client rather than controlling the conversation.
2. Prioritize Learning and Development
Millennials are highly responsive to the opportunity to learn more about your organization or new skills. If you teach your millennials about your company and products, they will effectively leverage this information to create sales by educating clients.
Another reason to believe in millennials: they go beyond just selling your product, they believe in it. Fifty-seven percent of buyer’s purchase decisions are made prior to a conversation with a sales rep, hence attempting to persuade them is wasted energy. With this trend, millennials are successful simply because they know everything potential clients need to know about your product and are willing to act as a resource to educate the client.
Millennials are competitive by nature and love to hone skills that will directly impact their career paths. Offer employer-sponsored sales training and resources within your company’s learning and development program that present the opportunity to grow within your organization, and millennials will prosper.
Providing training for millennials is easy because they grew up with technology and prefer online resources and interactivity. Three-quarters of millennials even sleep with an iPhone. Millennials are comfortable learning through digital mediums like websites, online discussions and videos. Sales training content can even be repackaged to be made more accessible for millennials, like podcasts.
3. Utilize Incentives in Your Sales Strategy
Many sources hypothesize that millennials are very driven towards incentives because they grew up receiving participation awards and trophies for every endeavor. Participation medals were not the problem; the problem was that they didn’t offer any true indication of performance and children were aware that they were meaningless. Perhaps this caused them to seek out accolades associated with more validation.
Whatever the case may be, millennials are driven by incentives and will respond very well to a sales structure catered to this. According to a Clutch study, only 23 percent of millennials are receiving the feedback that will drive their success, and 72 percent are more fulfilled at their jobs when their managers provide them with feedback.
Millennials aim high for work achievement, thus a large deterrent for them is not meeting these expectations, whether it’s their own or their employers.
Avoid this by clearly communicating expectations for your sales team and outlining opportunities for growth within the position. Millennials desire clear direction and goal setting from their managers and if they feel unfulfilled, they might seek other opportunities.