Building A Millennial-Minded Sales Organization

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Build a millennial-minded sales organization to create a sustainable revenue machine.

Putting whatever prejudices you may have about millennials aside for a moment, building a millennial-minded sales organization isn’t simply about appeasing the “entitled generation”. It’s also about building a sales coaching and development culture within your sales organization that will benefit employees of all ages—and your top line.

Roughly 73 million people were born in the US between 1982 and 1996. Now the largest generation in the workforce, millennials are claiming their place on the org chart and challenging workplace norms. Millennials’ unique experiences and characteristics have inspired a tremendous amount of research, literature, training seminars, and (let’s not forget) ire from those who manage them.

But we’ve come to understand the millennial mindset much better since their debut in the job market in the early 2000s. Companies and teams have made significant changes in procedures, expectations, compensation, benefits, and review structures to engage and motivate their millennial workforce. However, the traditional sales organization continues to struggle with developing, motivating and retaining millennial sellers.

As sales leaders, we need to reconsider the traditional structure of our sales team to build a millennial-minded sales organization.

What is a Millennial-Minded Sales Organization?

Let’s take a look at the motivators that are typically characteristic of your millennial team. Millennials are the first generation of digital natives. They are connected to limitless information at their fingertips but remain unconstrained by norms and relationships. They don’t accept “the way it’s always been” and instead push for change they believe in.

Millennials are often characterized as idealistic, valuing experience and a sense of purpose over money. While this may have some truth to it, the underlying reality is that your millennial employees are paid less (inflation-adjusted) and have far greater debt than their Baby Boomer and GenX counterparts did at their age. They expect that, while they are just squeaking by financially now, they can achieve financial security by developing relevant skills that make them more marketable and gaining experience. They are very focused on professional growth, and they are impatient about how they get it.

Organizations are adjusting compensation, training and development, communication and transparency, and hierarchy structures to build millennial-minded organizations.

However, the sales organization continues to struggle with making these adjustments. With the fast-paced, “produce or perish” atmosphere typical of any sales team, making room for the millennial mindset is seen as being simply impossible.

Free Guide: Build Your Millennial-Minded Sales Organization >>

Are You Ready for a Millennial-Minded Sales Organization?

Millennial Molly vs. CSO CHris - Building A Millennial-Minded Sales Organization | CommercialTribeYou’re the CSO. You have about 18 months to prove that you can move the company’s revenue forward to reach its goal, otherwise you’re out. How do you prove you can do the job?

If you follow the traditional Sales Leader playbook, you rely heavily on driving activity and goal compliance through Salesforce. You focus on the classic top-down hierarchy of communication and squeezing maximum productivity out of each asset and hour you have available to you. All this means that you identify where people work at their best and then you keep them there. Because change creates waste—wasted time, wasted productivity, wasted effort.

Rather than moving people around, letting them try new things, and figuring out how to develop people, the comp plan is really your favorite motivator. And why not? We all know that salespeople are coin-operated. You put the money incentive in, and revenue comes out.

But with all that we’ve learned about millennials in the workplace over the past several years, the reality is that your traditional means of motivating people and operating a salesforce is quickly becoming irrelevant. This new crop of reps and entry-level managers expect something very different. They expect more. You can love them. You can hate them. But you can’t ignore the impact millennials are currently having—and will continue to have—on our sales organizations.

“Millennials Aren’t My Problem”

At this point, you may be thinking that this just isn’t your problem. Millennials are entitled and they need to just get over it or go back to living off their mommies and daddies.

Well, you’re wrong. Millennials are now the largest generation in the workforce, a segment that will only continue to grow over the coming years. Furthermore, get ready for GenZ coming in behind them. While they are different from millennials in many ways, they are still expected to expect many of the same workplace reforms that millennials have pushed for.

Plus, you have a bigger problem. Only 56% of your sales reps are attaining quota, and you have better odds of winning it big in Vegas and being able to retire early than you do of getting an accurate forecast from your sales managers. You may have about a 25% turnover rate, largely due to missed quotas, burnout, and top reps getting recruited away. By the way, these numbers have been an issue for sales leaders around the globe for decades. You can’t simply blame it on the “new kids” coming in and not being loyal. This is your problem, and it’s only going to get worse.

You can no longer afford to maintain the status quo. You need a solution to developing your millennial sales team now, so you can enjoy the returns into the future.

Aligning Needs in a Millennial-Minded Sales Organization

We’ve established that your millennial-minded sales reps (and, potentially, entry-level managers) are looking for something perhaps a bit more than you are traditionally able to provide. But your revenue goal reality is not just going to go away. So how can you build a millennial-minded sales organization without sacrificing efficacy and performance?

Solution: The Sales Team Development Loop.

Using a sales team development loop, you can put the development of your entire sales team on auto-pilot, allowing you to improve your team’s overall effectiveness while satisfying your sales reps’ need for professional development and continual feedback.

HubSpot is an example of how this works for millennial-minded sales teams. Working with their SMB team, we were able to help young frontline sales managers learn how to coach their sales reps to help improve performance and retention on the team. Running a sales development loop with HubSpot’s SMB sales team, we partnered with sales leaders and operations to build a millennial-minded sales organization where learning and development are key to measuring and improving performance—and hitting quota every month.

Learn How To Buildi A Millennial-Minded Sales Organization | CommercialTribe

How To Make Quota Every Quarter with a Sales Development Loop

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The sales development loop helps you get your team to quota every quarter.

Your revenue goal for the quarter is clear. How you reach it is not. In fact, it’s likely that only 57% of your sales reps will hit their quota. What might that mean for you if this trend continues? Let’s try not to think about it.

The solution to the problem is clear: sales team development. Sales team development refers to the development of your entire sales team, from management to reps. What most sales leaders don’t realize is how much of an impact frontline sales manager development has on goal attainment. A company that invests $2,500 per frontline sales manager per year increases revenue plan attainment by 18.4%—on average, 106.7%—compared to those who don’t. Now, let’s think about what that might do for your career!

The sales development loop is a simple, yet highly effective process for improving the performance of busy sales teams. It puts the development of your entire team on auto-pilot by running each loop over the course of a quarter (three months), broken up into three 30-day segments.

Though we have run development loops that attempted to improve multiple types of sales interactions, we’ve found that they are far more successful when each loop is focused on just one specific interaction. Begin your sales development loop by identifying a specific area of the sales process that you want to improve.

For many teams just getting started with the sales development loop process, we recommend starting with the discovery call (or equivalent). The main reason for this is, based on the 30,000+ sales calls we’ve observed, 25% of qualified opportunities are wasted due to poor discovery calls. Even just a small decrease in that number will have a huge impact on your business.

Note that sales team development also includes managers, so you can also target the development of your sales managers using the development loop. Because training dollars are traditionally spent on sales skills training for reps, few managers receive relevant sales management coaching needed to develop critical management skills. Leaders who are interested in the development of their sales managers might target the forecast review, for example, to improve the effectiveness of manager-to-seller interactions.

The main idea is to pick just one interaction to focus on for each sales development loop. Once you decide on that interaction, take the time to identify what behaviors and characteristics make that interaction successful to create an “assessment map”.

Step 1: Calibrate Your Sales Development Loop

Download a Free Sales Assessment Map Template to Calibrate Your Sales Development Loop | CommercialTribeYour sales assessment map can be a simple spreadsheet that plots attributes and behaviors you are looking for in the interaction against the score you would give for each seller or manager being assessed. For example, when assessing your team’s sales discovery calls, you’ll want to identify how well they set an agenda, ask qualifying questions, build rapport, and close for next steps. Rate each behavior on a scale of 1 to 5, 1 meaning “non-existent” and 5 meaning “excellent”.

The sales assessment map will help you stay focused on the behaviors that you’ve identified as most important to making the interaction successful. It will also help keep your scoring and feedback consistent and objective for each person being assessed.

FREE Sales Assessment Map Template! Download Now >>

Step 2: Baseline Sales Skills Assessment

Take the first 30 days of the sales development loop to observe your sales team’s behavior in the specific development area you are focusing on to get a baseline for where your team’s skill level is currently. Resist the temptation to try and fix problems as you see them. Just focus on understanding the current state.

There are two ways you can observe your sales team. You can either sit in on a live call or you can have them submit a call recording. Either way, have your assessment map ready for each call you observe so you can score performance as you go.

Call recording can save you a bit of time, and it provides you with real-life examples of what great performance looks like. When you start coaching your team in the next step, showing these examples to your reps will help them understand exactly what you are looking for.

Step 3: Activate Sales Coaching & Development

The next 30 days of the sales development loop is dedicated to coaching. Based on your assessments, how can you most efficiently allocate your time and energy toward developing your sales team to have maximum impact? This will take some practice, but getting good at it will save you a lot of time.

Chances are you will find that some reps are great in some areas, but need further development in others. Your assessment maps will highlight specifically who needs help in each area, allowing you to efficiently and effectively coach based on personal strengths and opportunities for improvement.

Step 4: Measure Sales Development Progression

Finally, the last 30 days of the sales development loop is meant to observe your team a second time and look for skills progression. Can you see evidence that your team is improving? Celebrate progress on the skill the same way you would celebrate hitting quota and you will be on your way toward creating an environment for your people to get better.

Sales team development isn’t for everyone. It takes a certain type of forward-thinking sales leader to commit to “slowing down to go further.” But once they see the final results, those that do make the commitment are energized and excited to do more. And, no, it’s not just about keeping your job. It’s really about building a world-class sales organization and a sustained revenue-generating machine through continual coaching and development.

Download a FREE Sales Assessment Map Template to Get Your Team To Quota Every Quarter | CommercialTribe