Today’s guest post is by Josiane Feigon, president of TeleSmart Communications and author of Smart Selling on the Phone and Online. The insight in this blog post is taken from the “15 in 2015 Inside Sales Trend Report.”
Millennials are taking over in the sales profession. In just five years, this generation will make up 46 percent of the entire US workforce. Here are six characteristics of Millennials that inside sales managers should know.
1. They overshare.
Millennials value their community at work. That explains why the open-office phenomenon is so popular and why 88 percent of Millennials want their co-workers to be their friends. The flip side of this is oversharing. Too much or inappropriate information can destroy trust and a collaborative atmosphere. Don’t let oversharing tendencies run wild in your department. Establish the expectation that yours is a friendly office, not an overly social one.
2. They value engagement with their parents.
Know that you might be competing with your Millennial sales rep’s parent for influence. Consider the following:
- Baby boomers were often helicopter parents for Millennials.
- Some high-profile employers have instituted “bring your parents to work” days.
- I’ve talked with sales managers who have noticed Millennial reps regularly consulting with their parents about career moves.
- I even have a few friends who regularly do their kids’ homework . . . in college!
As an inside sales manager, don’t play into the Millennials’ fear of failure by being an always-present authority figure ready to swoop in and tell them exactly how to get things done. Encourage a learning environment where their experience is valuable and their insight is welcomed. This will help as you push them to sell on their own.
3. They can easily become confused about how they get paid.
According to Vorsight and The Bridge Group, three out of every 10 reps reported being unclear about their incentive compensation plan, which correlates to a 300 percent drop in employee engagement. Considering how motivation – or the lack thereof – is contagious on the sales floor, insides sales managers need to pay attention to this trend. Outline incentives clearly and make sure reps easily grasp the basics of how the incentive plan works.
4. They might blur the boundaries between employee and manager.
Pew Research revealed that, compared to previous generations, most Millennials have low trust in authority figures. The same study shows that Millennials prefer an environment that allows them to interact informally with peers and their bosses. A recent LinkedIn internal study also reported that one in three Millennials have texted their boss outside of work for non-work-related reasons, compared to only 10 percent of the boomer generation.
As a result, many Millennials find hierarchical relationships to be uncomfortable or foreign. Make sure you set the standard for what’s appropriate and what’s not. Be friendly, and be clear that you’re the boss.
5. They fear negative feedback.
I find that managers complain that they are constantly badgered by their team members to mentor more, coach more, acknowledge more, and reward more, but when they reach out unrehearsed and unplanned with some critiques, their reps panic. What’s the deal with these double standards?
High-maintenance Millennials can be very fearful of rejection, fueling both 1) need for constant feedback and 2) a fear of rejection. In other words, they want to hear lots of encouraging things and few critical ones. This might be because helicopter parents prevented them from experiencing and bouncing back from failure.
Avoid this high-maintenance minefield by making sure you telegraph your feedback meetings way ahead of time and surround all criticism with positive messages.
6. They can go quickly from little angels to little monsters.
“They interviewed so well, everyone liked them . . . and then after a few months, something happened.” I get this comment from sales managers a lot. Their young new hires seem to be starting out so well, then out comes their wrecking ball!
When high-maintenance Millennials experience something upsetting, such as a breakup or a lost deal, it can affect their work, possibly more so than with employees from other age brackets. With their “friends are co-workers” mentality, Millennials can have an impossible time focusing on work when they’re pouring out their feelings to their office neighbors.
These types of employees need to know that, when they’re at work, they must focus on work. If you’re calm, cool, and an honest – but tough – professional, the rest of the team will admire you for stepping in to reign in a bad influence without breathing fire and getting authoritarian.