With an abundance of articles that label millennials as ‘apathetic’ and ‘entitled’, it’s understandable why some organisations are cautious about hiring them – especially in large numbers. But by 2020, millennials will account for 50 per cent of the workforce as they replace the retiring baby boomer generation.
Organisations have to start rethinking their sales recruitment strategies, because very soon they’ll be competing for millennial talent to fill vacant roles, and that includes sales.
Where millennials fit into sales
As PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) summarised in their global generation study, it is the millennials’ use of technology that clearly sets them apart. They grew up with technology – and they know how to leverage it. As PwC states in their report: ‘this is the first generation to enter the workplace with a better grasp of key business tools than more senior workers.’
Millennials already have a firm handle on all the digital tools that are reshaping the way businesses buy and sell. CRMs, sales pipelines, automation that supports sales activities; they easily recognise how they work, even with limited exposure.
Technology has also influenced the evolution of consumer buying behaviours. Millennials know first-hand how today’s consumers want to be sold to. They intuitively understand how inbound and social selling is changing the traditional sales funnel.
A natural affinity for technology is only one of their many assets. A number of surveys have shown millennials, in particular, are motivated by purpose – they want their jobs to have meaning. They also want to help others. And, in a broad sense, this is what salespeople do.
Millennials are also self-starters and are drawn to responsibility. Both these attributes make them valuable to any sales team, particularly if you are looking for team members who are confident enough to work independently and able to chase down their own leads.
The question is no longer ‘should we hire millennials?’ But rather ‘how can we entice the best ones to work for us?’
Why are sales divisions struggling to hire millennials?
The world of sales is yet to realise that a career in sales isn’t an aspiration for many millennials. As noted by Peak Sales Recruiting:
‘When millennials think about B2B sales roles, they imagine sleazy deals and rounds of golf. These deep-seated misperceptions fail to capture the needs of a 21st Century sales landscape and overshadow the reality of a fulfilling career in sales. Based on a false understanding, millennials forgo these lucrative, meaningful jobs to pursue other options.’
With this impression of sales lingering among millennials, companies need to rethink their recruitment strategies to attract this next working generation. Unfortunately, this is where many businesses are failing miserably.
How to recruit millennials
To successfully recruit millennial sales reps, organisations need to relook at how their sales divisions operate. Money isn’t everything to millennials. This generation is also looking for:
– The opportunity to be creative/entrepreneurial.
– To be a part of an organisation that is socially responsible and innovative.
– A pathway to more job responsibility and leadership roles.
– Relative job flexibility and autonomy.
Business’ need to break the public stereotypes surrounding sales. “You have to be okay with rejection”, “You’ll be given the phone book and sat at a desk for hours on end cold calling”, “You need to be motivated by money”: none of these fit with what millennials are looking for in a sales role. A sales role that is grounded in purpose-driven work, entrepreneurial thinking and problem solving is a far more enticing.
“Research from the Objective Management Group reveals an emerging trend in motivation, altruism and the desire to help clients or prospects succeed,” says Grant Holland, SalesStar CEO Australia and New Zealand. “A strength of millennials is that they are definitely altruistic. If you want your clients to have a great sales experience, millennials must be part of your strategic plan.”
Using science to hire millennials
Like any hiring process in sales, you can’t go with ‘gut feel’ when hiring a millennial. There is a science to finding the right sales candidates for your business. Extensive research has shown that only 26 per cent of salespeople have the skills and mindset to be successful, with 6 per cent being deemed as elite salespeople. Further data has also shown that there are three characteristics that are critical to advancement in a sales role. There are:
1. The will to sell.
2. A supportive mindset.
3. Specific sales competencies.
So how do you find and select those with the most potential to succeed in sales? By ensuring you use best practice to evaluate every candidate who comes your way.
SalesStar is able to offer organisations access to the world’s leading sales candidate assessment tool, which is able to accurately predict (96 per cent) whether a sales representative will be successful in an organisation.
Of the one million people that have been assessed, 92 per cent of the recommended hires reached the top half of their sales force within 12 months, and 75 per cent of those not recommended, but hired anyway, failed within 6 months.
By arming your business with the knowledge that there are millennials who can be star sellers, and having the scientific tools to select the right ones, there is little holding you back from achieving sales success and growing your business.