It’s a tough hiring market -- especially for SDR and AE roles. In some locations (San Francisco, New York, and Boston), it has become almost impossible.
I know from speaking with Sales Leaders (and from our research) that companies are being forced to hire younger and less experienced reps. It seems “straight out of college” has become the new “1-2 years of experience” and that “minimum of 1 year of selling” has replaced “3+ years in a sales capacity.”
By this point, if you don’t have a healthy number of “Millennials” on your team, you’re in the minority. Despite the stereotypes (social media-obsessed, marriage-delaying, selfie-addicts), Millennials actually stay longer with their employers than the previous generation.
Source: White House Council of Economic Advisors
(Although, good luck trying to convince a Sales Development Manager in the Bay Area of that fact.)
But to get (and to give) the best to this new workforce, we as leaders need to update how we lead our teams. Here are three ways you can make the most of a younger, greener sales force.
1. Present sales as a first step towards . . .
Most graduates don’t charge down from the graduation stage waving their diploma in the air and shouting, “Somebody give me something to sell!” The proportion of recent grads who see sales as their dream first job is modest. But most do love entrepreneurial adventures.
Position your sales role as the first step towards fill in the blank. Want to be a company founder someday? Great! most CEOs have first-hand sales experience. Want to get into marketing? Perfect! some of the best marketers have carried a bag and know the day–to-day of a sales rep.
2. Training + developing + compensating = the new coin of the realm
Annual performance reviews and training at sales kickoff aren’t going to cut it. New reps want constant feedback, continuous training, and development and mentoring. It has been said that Millennials would rather do a job they love than be paid double in a job they found boring. I’d say something slightly different. Compensation still matters, but increasingly, mentoring, coaching, and career path are joining base and variable as the new coin of the realm.
Also, bear in in mind that referrals are what often lead new reps into sales roles. Get your current employees involved in recruiting and play up the career opportunities that are available in your organization. Make no doubt about it, Millennials rely heavily on the opinions and experiences of their peers. If you’re running a “great place to learn and grow” or a “frat house meets boiler room,” word gets out.
3. Take employee churn as seriously as customer churn
As a management team, you can do a lot to help retain your less experienced employees, even if you don’t interact with them daily.
- Be open with company goals, transparency is key.
- Ask for (and genuinely appreciate) feedback from your people.
- Focus on the effort as well as the numbers.
- Keep condescension in check. You may think you’re the prettiest boy at the dance, but trust me: you aren’t. There are dozens of companies chomping at the bit for your top talent.
Inbound marketing and SEO SaaS company Moz shares their TAGFEE code which stands for transparent & authentic, generous, fun, empathetic, and exceptional.
Our goal is for everything we create and cultivate—our software, content, corporate culture, and relationships—to live up to the tenets of our TAGFEE code.
Engaged and passionate employees can be a huge asset to your sales team. Take the above steps to keep them satisfied, and you’ll have loyal employees for years to come.
What have I missed? I'm interested in your challenges and ideas for this new wave of sales candidates. Please share in the comments.
About Sally Duby
Sally is the General Manager, West of The Bridge Group, Inc.
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