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6 Ways to Sell Millennials on Joining Your Sales Team

Millennials live in a world that is increasingly virtual. They text, Snapchat, and tweet instead of picking up the phone and calling one another, and Skype instead of going out for coffee. That is part of the reason companies are having a hard time filling a growing number of open sales positions, a profession that requires a great deal of personal, face-to-face connections.

A recent study from Harvard Business School’s U.S. Competitiveness Project found that employers spend an average of 41 days trying to fill technical sales jobs versus 33 days for jobs in other professions. The same study cites that a cloud-based software company would have had $2 million more in revenue if they met their hiring goals for sales reps. A big reason these jobs have been so hard to fill is because millennials have not been taking them.

There are a myriad of reasons why it is difficult to get today’s best and brightest into sales. This generation lived through the financial crisis and are the first American generation worse off than their parents. As a result, they have less confidence in the economy and favor stability in their salary as opposed to the volatility that comes along with sales commissions. They are also known as the trophy generation, because they received positive recognition even when they didn’t win and therefore have reservations about a profession that bases your value solely on how many “wins” you have.

“If executives can’t convince these ‘lazy’, tech-savvy, narcissistic, social media ‘brats’ to help sell their products and services, they will not be able to compete in today’s global economy.”

The problem for employers is that with 83 million members, Generation Y now makes up the largest sector of the U.S. population, and by 2025, they will make up 75% of the workforce. The bottom line is that if executives can’t convince these ‘lazy’, tech-savvy, narcissistic, social media ‘brats’ to help sell their products and services, they will not be able to compete in today’s global economy.

Here are 6 tips for hiring millennials.

1. Rethink compensation packages. Young people want a financial safety net. They favor a higher base pay with a lower proportion of riskier commission pay. The Wall Street Journal cited that the base pay in sales has increased 11.7% from 2010 through 2014, while the variable amount has remained steady. While this demonstrates that the industry is trying to evolve to appeal to millennials, it is critical for businesses to double down on this and create compensation packages that suit the sales reps of today and tomorrow.

2. Make sales mobile. Being chained to a desk is the worst fear of millennials. They are inherently global, mobile and social and are always on the go. Sales positions offer the opportunity to wine and dine clients, attend networking events and meet new people. Furthermore, millennials despise the corporate America practice of sitting around late just to “show face.” Sales is a great profession because those who meet their numbers will rarely, if ever, be questioned about why they aren’t at their desk.

3. Take advantage of millennials’ buying power. According to The New York Times, millennials have $1.3 trillion in annual buying power. That means they can easily tap into their vast network to drive sales from day one.

4. Let them control their own destiny. Based on a poll of 5,800 participants in 10 countries, media agency network ZenithOptimedia said global consumers aged 18 to 34 have a “fundamentally different approach” to achieving happiness compared to previous generations. As opposed to the “free spirit” attitudes of the baby boomer generation, millennials seek to gain much more control over their lives to obtain happiness. Therefore, sales represents the perfect profession, since it offers reps the ability to control their own destiny, their paycheck and in many cases, their hours.

5. Offer tuition Incentives. Millennials are the most educated group in American history. Graduate degrees and a thirst for learning is important to them. By offering some form of tuition incentives, your company will become an extremely attractive destination. Additionally, you will encourage your employees to become better educated and equipped to drive your company into the future.

6. Embrace diversity. Millennials are the largest and most diverse generation in the U.S., made up of 42% minorities and more women working than any other generation. Diversity in the workplace is of great importance to millennials. Hiring more women and people from different backgrounds, then promoting this in your recruiting, will attract more millennials. This will also help eliminate challenges stemming from the gender and diversity gap many companies face, and introduce fresh ideas and valuable contrasting perspectives into the organization.


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