Managing Millennials: How to Get the Most Out of Your Sales Talent

October 3, 2018
Managing Millennials: How to Get the Most Out of Your Sales Talent

Are you managing millennials? Wondering what motivates them to sell?

Well, let’s talk about these magical creatures. Because, you know, millennials aren’t like any other human that have ever lived on earth. All the articles you’ve read about them being unmotivated, lazy, and useless are all true.


Listen, friends, I’m a millennial. (Or, according to comedian Iliza Shlesinger, I’m basically an #ElderMillennial). I find 99% of the articles written about millennials to be pretty off base. But hey, the way I was raised could also have something to do with my perception of these articles.

And if you’ve read these articles, you probably know what I’m talking about. So today I want to dispel some of this—and talk about how you, as a manager, can get the best out of your team members.

Managing Millennials: How to Get the Most Out of Your Sales Talent

Let’s start by establishing one thing: us millennials are just people living our lives like any other generation. Contrary to popular belief, we did not have a meeting up in heaven before we all headed down here. We did not conspire to ruin everything for other generations. And believe it or not, we’re just like you!

I’m going to speak for myself here when I say this—I consider myself to be a hard-working go-getter. I will go above and beyond to meet a deadline or complete a project. “Doing what it takes” has meant commuting 4 hours a day (for years!). It’s meant working multiple jobs in order to make ends meet. It’s meant hard work, persistence, and pushing through when I’ve felt like I was burning out time and time again.

But see that’s the thing: millennials, we’re questioning things like burnout. We’ve watched our parents struggle and literally work themselves to the detriment of their own mental and physical health.

We’ve read books like The 4-Hour Workweek and thought twice when we heard about Arianna Huffington’s collapse from exhaustion.

It’s not that we’re lazy, it’s that we’re paying attention.

And, I’d argue, some of us are even experienced in areas like this. On the Let’s Talk Sales Podcast, I shared my own story about burning out as a salesperson—and I was only 26 at that time!

3 Tips for Managing Millennials

Ready for the tips on managing millennials? Let’s get to it.

  1. Provide Clarity

One of most important things you can do when managing millennials (or anyone) is to provide clarity. In all you do, be clear and specific.

When you’re hiring and onboarding new salespeople, be clear about their role and what you expect.

When you’re creating and setting goals, be clear on what their KPIs are and why. Be transparent and explain how to tie sales activities to sales goals, and how their goals tie to the organizations’ goals.

Then, have each team member create a monthly Prospecting Action Plan to drive behavior home.

What’s the worst thing you can do? Give no direction or support and have high expectations. It doesn’t matter what generation your employees are from—clarity and direction are key.

free download: the CFS guide to hiring

  1. Be Flexible

Whether you’re managing millennials or ANY generation: do not, I repeat, do not, micromanage.

Micromanagement is a slow, life-sucking trait.

And there’s nothing (most) humans hate more than being told what to do. If you’ve provided clear direction and set goals, and your salespeople are creating Sales Prospecting Action Plans and using a Time Blocking method to plan—then just get out of the way. Let them work.

One of the biggest morale killers is working in an environment where there is an “Almighty” watching every move. Think about it: how would you thrive if you felt like you were constantly being watched, told what to do, what to think, and how to act?

I urge you to consider being flexible. Give direction, yes. But also let people do their jobs the way that works best for them. In today’s economy, this might mean less “strict” 9-5 hours or allowing team members to create their own hours. It might mean more work-from-home or remote time.

It’s not about letting your employees run wild—it’s about getting the most out of your staff. You’ve given them the resources they need to get the job done—now trust your employees to do the right thing.

You want to get the MOST out of your people, right? Then let them work in a way that allows them to be their best self.

Free eBook: Sales Prospecting Action Plan

  1. Coach Them

Clarity and flexibility are important when managing millennials. And coaching will help you accomplish even more.

To be clear: coaching, mentoring, and advising are different beasts. And today, we’re going to focus specifically on coaching.

So what does it mean to coach your salespeople? Deb Calvert, founder of The Sales Experts Channel, said it best on a webinar that we did together recently. She said that coaches:

  • Ask questions to extract information and promote self-discovery
  • Actively listen and playback key information for critical reflection
  • Facilitate goal-setting and action planning for skills development
  • Empower sellers to lead his/her own development

The biggest takeaway that I’d like to highlight here is the idea of self-discovery and empowering others to develop. You know the old saying: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Coaching requires patience and lots of questions. But I promise—you’ll get better results by allowing someone to discover than you ever will by telling people what to do.

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How Do You Manage Millennials?

I hope the tips in this article are helpful as you’re managing your millennial sales team.

Now, I’d love to know: what effective methods do you use to manage your millennial staff? Throw me a comment below!

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