The performance and effectiveness of sales teams should be a topic of serious concern for most sales organisations. After all, research published by CSO Insights in its Sales Performance Optimization Study shows that the percentage of salespeople achieving quota has declined year-on-year since 2012, while revenue plan attainment fell from 89.2 percent in 2012 to 82.7 percent in 2015, even in spite of greater adoption of sales enablement strategies.
Some have blamed millennials for this decline in sales results, citing supposedly poor attention spans and laziness. However, this analysis is largely unfounded and based on generalisations. Nevertheless, they do have a new approach to sales and with millennials now the dominant generation in the workforce, and set to account for 75 percent of it by 2025, it is important to understand how this approach can help to improve sales effectiveness.
Willingness to Try New Things
For the most part, millennial workers are less ‘stuck in their ways’ than employees from older generations, because they grew up with digital technology that was rapidly evolving, from computers and the internet to smartphones and wearable gadgets. As a result, they are conditioned towards actively wanting to try new technology, new methods and new software, rather than sticking rigidly to what they already know or what they are used to.
The big advantage of this for businesses is the fact that millennial workers are likely to embrace customer service coaching which teaches them to make use of more advanced CRM software, or make use of new metrics and data. In addition, millennials will have a greater willingness to utilise unconventional communication channels, such as instant messaging and video messaging software, in order to improve sales processes and the customer experience.
“Rather than seeing sales as a traditional model that should be implemented as a step-by-step process, they see sales as a fluid evolution of different moving parts, changing as they gain more information about the business and its prospects,” says Larry Alton, writing for Forbes. “This makes millennials capable of handling more complex challenges that arise in response to new technologies, especially when they use data to guide their next decisions.”
Familiarity With Social Media
In addition to their adaptability, another major plus point of having an abundance of millennials in the workforce is the fact that, as a generation, they are adept at using social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. These social networking sites are increasingly important for sales organisations to leverage, in order to communicate with customers, deliver an excellent customer experience and achieve true sales effectiveness.
The sales area where this familiarity with social media can be most beneficial is with social selling. With research from CSO Insights indicating that world-class sales organisations are two years ahead of average performers in this area, many businesses can benefit greatly from taking advantage of millennials’ knowledge of how social media works, their willingness to use it and their understanding of how customers use it too.
In terms of achieving sales effectiveness and improving business results, the advantages of carrying out social selling are numerous, but include reduced contact research time, increased win rates, greater lead conversion rates and shorter selling cycles. However, CSO Insights have found that organisations rank social selling as the training service most in need of major redesign and millennials can have a role to play there too.
Desire For Work With a Meaning
Finally, one of the key findings of the Deloitte 2017 Millennial Survey was the fact that millennials are drawn to organisations that they believe are making a positive difference. In addition, they want their job to be genuinely useful and have meaning. While this need for a sense of purpose is one of the reasons why millennials are considered more likely to leave a stable job than Generation X or Baby Boomers, it can also be an advantage.
“Millennials appear to be seeking an organization that makes giving back and world improvement a part of how it does business,” says Jason Lauristen, a keynote speaker and expert in talent acquisition and employee engagement. “They want to see it woven into the very values and purpose of the organization. When this happens, it makes all jobs feel meaningful. And that leads to more motivated and engaged employees.”
The need for meaning to their work and a desire to improve society are both actually extremely valuable for modern sales organisations, because the most successful brands have moved beyond competing based on product and price, adopting a more customer-centric approach. Through customer service coaching, it should be relatively straight forward to get millennial workers to engage with the idea of selling solutions to problems, rather than products.
Sales organisations are set to be dominated by millennial workers in the years ahead, and with sales results declining over recent times, it is important to take steps to understand how millennials work and how they can help to improve business results. The good news is, millennials’ adaptability, willingness to use new technology, familiarity with social media and desire for purpose in the workplace all have a role to play in achieving this objective.