Apr 10, 2020 03:45 PM EDT
Millennial-aged people aren't flocking to sales jobs the way that their GenX and Baby Boomer predecessors did. This is creating a massive human capital issue for sales teams across all industries.
So what is a hiring manager to do? Do they simply accept that hiring the right salesperson in 2020 means looking for people with gray hair? Do they just give up on an entire generation of would-be recruits? Not at all.
It is still possible to make a sales role look attractive to a younger generation, if you do the following.
Part of the problem is that Millennials have a rather old-world idea of what a salesperson looks like. They picture someone in a power suit.
Sales roles are far more flexible these days. Paint an accurate picture of what life is actually like for your sales team. For example, if you're a local brewery, let applicants know that most of your sales calls will see you wearing jeans and a t-shirt.
Another common myth involves the image of the stress-factory boiler room setting, where salespeople are screaming over top of each other into their phones.
In an effort to deal with the sales stigma with today's younger generation, a lot of companies are repackaging traditional sales roles with new and more impressive-sounding titles. A magazine ad space sales role might be repackaged as an "Associate Publisher" job. Or good old-fashioned door-to-door sales jobs may be rechristened as "Frontline Marketing."
This doesn't work and it's incredibly transparent. You're basically just moving people a little bit further along in the job application process before they decide they don't want to work for you. Now, they will decide mid-interview that your job isn't for them.
You're not really fooling anyone by changing the labels. You're actually devaluing the role by setting it up to be a high turnover job that young people quit after a few weeks (or even days) after they learn what the role really entails.
There is a big misconception that all young people insist on working for edgey start-ups, with an indoor bike rack, a ping pong table, and a kitchen full of cereal.
They actually want:
They have seen the older generation (possibly even their parents) stuck in go-nowhere jobs. They need to know that there is room to grow.
This may mean things like freedom to work from home a few days a week, but that's not always the case. But work-from-home days are never a bad thing.
It's more about the freedom to make mistakes and learn on their own. This means you will want to sell a lack of micromanagement from your leaders.
This can be a warm and fluffy feeling that hardened Boomers may not get. But Millennials want to feel a sense of purpose in what they do.
Of course, your sales role doesn't mean they will be saving dolphins or putting out forest fires. But you can certainly play up the value that you're bringing to people's lives. Maybe you help small business owners save money, or maybe you help people buy their first home.
As you can see, they want a lot of the same things that previous generations wanted, they just place more value on certain things.
So you don't have to reorganize and rebrand your company to attract Millennials. You simply have to tell them what they want to hear.
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