Last week I ended my post with a
question: how do you guide a millennial sales person toward success? I expected
a few answers, but I was overwhelmed with responses. It took only a day or two
to receive emails, voicemails, and a few conversations by phone, but many
evenings compiling the feedback. Here’s what I’ve got in summary format.
First and foremost, having heard from a
few millennials on this topic, they don’t want to be lumped in under one
umbrella. The term millennial has been getting a bad rap a bit these days.
Those that reached out to me, by age fall into this category, but they are far
too eager and aggressive for success to be lumped in with the rest. They,
like others I’ve talked to, prefer to be referred to as younger sales people.
Second, what seems top-of-the-list for
both the younger sales people and those above them in management is the
expectation of instant success (aka a sense of entitlement). It seems many of
the comments I received were concerned about not necessarily “paying dues” or
“coming up the ranks”, rather the younger sales people with a sense of
entitlement wanted success, but expected it to come much easier. They, in
essence, were open and willing to cutting corners in sales processes in order
to get the customer to say yes.
In the digital era we’re in, with
marketing via electronic media at your fingertips, it would seem many younger
sales people believe it should be easy to obtain a lead, a prospect, and
ultimately a client. I, myself, have been in an engaged review of inbound
versus outbound marketing. Many younger sales people believe inbound marketing
is the answer to becoming a wildly successful sales rep, but they forget that
regardless of whether the lead comes to you or you to the lead, you must
understand how to correctly and professionally communicate, foster a
relationship, and meet (many times face-to-face) with the prospect in order to
gain the needed trust for the prospect to buy.
I referenced having done reading and
research on millennial employees. In almost all cases there is a sense that
millennials want success, are willing to work hard/smart, and at the same time
want a work-life balance. The downside is again, the expectation or sense of
entitlement that is displayed behavior, and sales managers are becoming
frustrated. In sales, in particular, there can be an extensive amount of
training required to fully understand a service or product. Each company has
“their way” of selling and going to market. Younger sales people must
understand and grasp the concept that sales is not a 9:00 to 5:00 position. I
recently witnessed a fairly successful, younger sales person state he's yet
to work more than a 40 hour work week. It is typically 40 (or less). Yet, this
person is seeking guidance on how to tackle additional responsibilities, and
grow their book of business. Younger sales people must realize that nights and
weekends can become opportunistic times for reading, researching and planning.
And finally, even when incredibly well
educated and bright, many younger sales people lack respect for those that have
gone before them. Sales today is not much different than sales 10, 20 or 30
years ago. Human interaction and relationships can be complicated no matter
what product or service you sell. Understanding how to engage in conversations,
read body language, gain perspective into what may drive the buying decision,
etc. all comes with age (ie experience). All too often the complaint with
younger sales people is their lack of willingness to learn from superiors.
Success can come easily at times,
quickly at times, and when one least’s expects it. Quick hits can be a nice,
albeit, little boost to your confidence and revenue goals. Sustainable growth,
which leads to a sustainable sales career, comes through patience in process, a
genuine willingness to learn, an understanding that you may not be the smartest
person in the room, and a desire to want the long-term, sustainable sales
career, not just a quick buck.
Young sales people are the future of the
profession. For the few out there willing to take the cautious yet necessary
steps, methodically one-by-one, the sustainable and successful career is yours
for the taking. For that younger sales person seeking the shortcut, with the
sense of entitlement, do us all a favor now and find a different career path.