article | September 27, 2013
10 Conversations to Retain Millennial Sales Talent
As reported recently in AARP The Magazine, Baby Boomers are now outnumbered by Millennials. (The group now in their mid-teens to early 30’s.) Also known as Gen-Y, they have different career aspirations than their older counterparts. They change jobs after just 2-3 years. They have the power to damage reputations and brands with social media. “Nearly tanked my career. The idiots at that company just churn and burn people!”
This post offers solutions to Sales and HR leaders who ask this question: “How do we respond to demographic trends and retain top sales talent?” Included in this post is the Millennial Coaching Planner. This tool is a practical guide to 10 conversations that will boost retention. To get your copy, simply register for this year’s Annual Tour here.
Millennials Change Jobs 2X More Frequently
During the recent downturn, many sales forces benefitted from a uniquely capable labor market. Unemployed Gen-Y workers from hard-hit sectors like financial services turned to sales as a new career direction. Overqualified for the new role, they readily developed the necessary skills. Now they are impatient to make up for the temporary career setback.
Millennial Branding recently conducted a survey of 233 HR professionals from various industries. 30 percent of respondents reported that they had lost 15% or more of their millennial employees in the past year. This is twice the rate of their older co-workers.
Best-selling author and Gen-Y expert Dan Schawbel explains why. Generation Y employees “view work differently. While older generations are looking for salary and benefits, Millennials are looking for meaningful and flexible work. What they want from their jobs is different, and that’s why they leave in a couple years.”
Millennials Want Personalized Career Plans
Retaining Gen-Y employees requires new strategies. It’s especially true for sales roles where the timing to change jobs is predictable. When new territories and quotas are assigned, other pastures look temptingly green. For most sales organizations, that happens on January 1 – only 95 days away!
The solution lies in meeting the needs of Millennials head-on. Development Dimensions International recently surveyed 1,987 HR professionals and 12,423 business leaders of various ages. The results were published in the Global Leadership Forecast. Gen Y leaders surveyed placed a greater emphasis on personal development plans than other generational groups.
Millennials crave a clear career path. They demand to know what to do to keep advancing. If they are not advancing, they are heading for the exit.
The challenge for sales is unique. True, sales managers constantly provide feedback and guidance to employees. Quota attainment is one clear and regular indication of performance. There is a temptation for sales managers to view sales achievement as personal development. Moving up in the stack ranking may seem like moving upward in the organization. But it isn’t. Coaching for Millennials in sales must expand beyond performance and focus on personal growth.
Ten Best Practice Conversations with Gen-Y Reps
A key challenge with coaching personal development is frequency. Those who are truly committed to retaining their sales talent do it monthly. Equally important is to make it meaningful. Simply reviewing a checklist of developmental tasks won’t work. Each employee is unique.
The Millennial Coaching Planner is a powerful aid. It’s a guide to personal development that covers ten dimensions. Each conversation covers one of the topics listed below. The Planner includes a series of questions to stimulate the discussion. Few managers have time to cover all topics with each employee. The Planner also includes a section to tailor the conversations to suit the individual’s needs.
The examples below are just 2 of the 10 conversation topics and guiding questions. The Planner includes 8 more topics that comfortably open up communications.
4 Steps to Retaining Millennials
Effective coaching for development starts with trust. The conversations in the Planner will break down generational barriers and start open communication. Be better prepared in the valuable time you have available to develop your team. Here’s how:
Retaining sales talent is a critical success factor. Gen-Y players are prone to exit earlier than previous generations. The answer is to understand their expectations and work to help them meet their goals.
Prevent turnover with a proactive development program. The impact of Millennial employees grows each day. You will only Make Your Number in 2014 if you maximize their potential.