Three Tips to Managing Young Sales People

Do you ever get frustrated managing the younger members of your sales team? Young salespeople require a very different strategy to motivate and increase productivity. Learn three tips to increase their sales immediately. Watch it now:

Created by Marc Wayshak, author of the book, Game Plan Selling. For more info on Marc’s sales training in boston, click here.

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Raw Video Transcript:

Large organizations or even business owners that have a sales team often ask me, “Marc, how do I manage more effectively my younger salespeople?” So whether you have a company that has a sales team made up of almost entirely young employees or even just one or two younger sales people—and by “young” we’re talking 30 and younger—I’m going to give you some advice. Your company could be in software, you could be in publishing, you could be in a bunch of industries that might attract younger salespeople. I’m not going to talk about the older generations because I think we have a clearer understanding of how past generations handle sales. But this 30 and younger group fits into a category called the ‘Millennial Generation’ or ‘Generation Y’—this basically consists of people who were born in 1983 or more recently.

What I have found is that you have a different set of character traits with this generation when it comes to managing them as salespeople, and I just want to separate two quick things—one is that you’re going to take into account that there are certain traits that actually make these people distinct because of the time period that they were born in, and the other thing to remember is that sometimes they’re just different in terms of how you manage them because of their age, and eventually as they get older they will act more like the people that you have managed from the older generation. So you really have two different factors going on right now.

The first tip here is that you can never expect that the strategies that worked for you in the past from a managing perspective with your older generations will work on the younger generation. You don’t want to expect those same strategies to work with these younger salespeople, the people that you are dealing with today, because a lot is different. First of all, this generation has generally been a coddled and well-supported generation because these are the kids of the Baby Boomers, so these are people who have grown up in an environment in which everyone got a trophy. Many in this generation grew up with high standards of living and very high expectations, so there’s a pretty good chance that when they were younger they did not have an expectation of getting into sales.

As such, you want to remember that, whereas with older generations—say, someone who’s now 50 years old—the job that you might be offering would have been the absolute greatest thing they could’ve imagined when they were younger, chances are people who are 30 or younger had dreams of different careers. As a result, this requires a different way of approaching how you manage younger salespeople; what motivates them and what drives them is very, very different.

The first thing you need to do, especially in this situation, is to tie their personal goals to their professional goals. When you’re dealing with a younger salesperson, someone of this generation, you actually want to get to know what they want to accomplish personally, and this is really true for people of any generation, that’s just good management, but it is particularly relevant with the younger generation who largely grew up as dreamers. However, I don’t think you have to get to know them on an incredibly personal level because I think there’s something to be said for keeping work/life boundaries, but it is helpful to have a clear idea of what they would like to accomplish personally in terms of: what do they want to buy? What do they want to invest in? What do they want to do with their time outside of work?

Having an idea of these desires is really powerful, and remember that this generation does not necessarily have the secure family and white picket fence ideal of old. Nowadays they may want a family, but you know what, they may not, and that is very typical for this generation. Their personal goals are very likely to include traveling and adventure. Also, paying off student debt is a big ambition among this generation, which may not be exciting, but it’s certainly motivating because you know the typical person of this generation, particularly the ones in the socio-economic bracket in which you’d be hiring, are likely to have between $20 and $80 thousand in student debt. These large sums are going to be hanging over their heads, and though paying that off may not be an exciting ambition, it is certainly something that will be really important to them, so every goal that they have professionally should tie back to how it will support them personally.

So let’s say you want to get your younger salespeople to sell a million dollars in whatever it is that you sell, and let’s say they’re on 10% commission and no base salary—so for 10% commission that means that they would be earning $100,000. As the manager you to have a clear idea of where that $100,000 will go—you don’t have to know exactly, but you want to know if they want to pay for that trip which will cost them $5,000 above and beyond their cost of living, if they want to put $20,000 or $10,000 towards their student debt, etc. You should know their cost of living right now, what’s their nut: in most cases this generation their rent, maybe they want to buy a house—whatever it is, get a clear idea of how these professional goals tie to their personal goals. Once you do that it is much, much easier to motivate them because now every time they pick up the phone they are getting themselves that much closer to whatever it is that they would like to accomplish outside of their professional life and whatever it is they want to accomplish in their personal life.

The next thing that is important when managing this generation is to focus on activities and not numbers. Let me give you a sports analogy (I use a lot of sports analogies): when you are the coach of a football team, it’s hard to really do a lot of serious coaching on game day, but what you can really control is how they’re training—what are they doing on a day-to-day basis to train, to get themselves ready, ultimately, for game day. You know you can make a few adjustments here and there on game day but what you really want to control are the day-to-day activities that get them to the place where they’re ready for game day. So let me be specific with sales now: a lot of managers are almost 100% focused on, “Did you hit your sales numbers this month? Did you bring in $100,000? Did you bring in your $30,000?” That’s fine, but we also want to augment that with focusing on what those key activities are that they have to do in order to actually hit that.

What I find is that a lot of times this means that the goal would be something like they have to go on 10 meetings a month in order to be likely to hit that $100,000 sales call number. Now what are two things they have to do to get those 10 meetings a month—how many calls do they have to make, how many introductions do they have to ask for, how many client calls, how many whatever it is; those key metrics that you use, how many of those do they have to hit in order to hit that number? And hold them accountable to those activities more specifically than just the ultimate sales number, particularly in those first six months to a year of managing them. Get them used to focusing on activities; this is a generation that’s not as disciplined as other generations, so you need to get them almost trained into thinking more disciplined.

The last piece, and this is really a bonus, is that you want to communicate very, very regularly. I mean all the time, this is a generation that is used to getting a lot of feedback, whether it was in school, from parents, in sports, etc. Give them feedback, either positive or negative, but never both at the same time. So if they’ve done something well, let them know; if they’ve done something that needs to be fixed, let them know.

Now if they’ve done both, save the good feedback for one meeting and the bad feedback for another meeting, never say, “Oh you know, you did a great job here but let me tell you what you did wrong here,” because then that really negates any of the positiveness. Always keep that feedback separate, but give them lots of feedback, engage in lots of communication with them, and what I particularly recommend early on when you’re working with someone this age is to have a regular meeting—it can be short, it can be a five- or ten-minute meeting—once a week or every two weeks, scheduled on the books. This way you’re constantly giving them feedback, you’re constantly getting their questions, because they’re of course going to have a lot of questions and want to be communicating very regularly.



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About the Author Marc Wayshak

Marc is is the best-selling author of three books on sales and leadership, including the highly acclaimed titles Game Plan Selling, The High-Velocity Sales Organization and his forthcoming book, Sales Conversations, Mastered.

Marc is a contributor to Inc, HubSpot, Fast Company, Entrepreneur Magazine, and Huffington Post Business. He also hosts a popular YouTube channel on sales strategy with over 103,000 subscribers.

Marc helps thousands of people his data-driven, science-based approach to selling that utilizes all the best tools available to sales organizations today.

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