Are your managers drinking the juice being served up in droves that Millennials are afraid of being pushy, dealing with high pressure, selling, and cold-calling? Here’s a wake-up call: Businesses looking to hire don’t tie job descriptions to the individual based on whether he or she is a Baby Boomer, a Millennial or part of Generation X or Z. The skill set one embodies may play a small role in the generation into which you’re born. But, for the most part, it isn’t a stat I would weigh when assessing if a candidate has the ability to perform a job for which he or she is being interviewed.
Millennial Stereotypes Disproven
Over the last few years, I have read a few good articles defending Millennials against stereotypes that this generation is easily bored, craves instant gratification and would rather hop from gig to gig than stay with one company throughout their working lives. Reasons behind these stereotypes run the gamut: from the fact that Millennials were raised in households with a computer and access to the Internet, stifling their desire for human interaction – an impediment to any sales process and certainly to cold-calling; to their witness of the largest economic decline from Q2 2008 to Q2 2009 since the Great Depression, spurring a distrust of corporate America; the 911 Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, proving how fragile and fleeting life can be; the widespread acceptance of flextime, working from home and freelancing, creating a desire for job mobility; and the inability to purchase a home making the American Dream obsolete.
Yet, it turns out Millennials are just as committed as their elders were at the same age, if not more so. A survey by the Pew Research Center found that American workers aged 18 to 35 were just as likely to remain with their employers as their older counterparts in Generation X were when they were young adults. Millennials are also settling in, looking to purchase homes and the financial security that comes with making such a decision – they’re just waiting longer to buy. A September report from the real estate website and app Zillow found that Millennials are the largest group of homebuyers in the U.S. The reason why Millennials (like other generations) are waiting to buy is because of low inventory – there are simply fewer affordable homes on the market to buy.
Unfortunately, most of the time messages debunking these stereotypes get lost or overshadowed by all the negativity directed towards Millennials. It’s time, however, to look at reality, and start managing and training salespeople to succeed regardless of their generation ties.
Characteristics of Millennials
It’s also time to look at leveraging the good qualities and characteristics germane to the Millennial generation so that you and they get the most out of their sales positions at your company. Here’s what they can bring to your company’s table:
- Because they grew up in the midst of many world-changing events, including the rise of mass communication, technological advance, Millennials are agile and easily adaptable – a real plus in our industry, which is seeing a great deal of disruption and new ways of delivering insurance solutions.
- All-knowing as the former Gen X, Millennials have what it takes, but are also willing to do something about it. Give Millennials a project, and they will run with it. Empower them!
- Gen Y has benefitted from all science advances and better education and has the ambition and desire to help change the world. That’s a good thing for companies and the increasing societal shift towards making a difference and the need for transparency. They’ll be able to relate and better communicate with like-minded individuals during the cold-calling and sales process and when servicing.
- Millennials have been exposed and seen so much that they are now immune to traditional ways, from marketing to sociology. This attitude of “just because it was done this way for years doesn’t mean we have to continue to do so” sparks innovation and creativity in helping to market and distribute products differently, expanding an agency’s or carrier’s footprint.
All Generations Face Hurdles
It’s also important to remember that no matter whether you’re a Millennial or a Gen Xer, we’ve all experienced challenges and different generational pressures that influence who we are today. Moreover, people learn differently when it comes to training. Some are better at retaining what they read or hear while others need visuals for better retention. The bottom line is if you hire someone to perform a job it’s because they’ve interviewed well, the references checked out and they passed any litmus test or certification that was administered to them.
Just think about how we as part of the older generations were hired and trained – or at least shown the ropes – when we first began in a new sales position. We were given the opportunity to shine. That’s because successful businesses with managers who can interact and help employees grow are the winners. Moreover, businesses set up to help employees be accountable for their job descriptions and key performance indicators (KPIs) will blossom and grow. Businesses falling back on stereotypes attached to a specific group as outlined earlier as the reasons behind failures or unmet KPIs will eventually go by the wayside or be sold off.
Track and Measure Performance
Take the time to drill down in the process you’re using to measure the KPIs. Call-center tracking is an important part of managing a call center let alone salespeople or telemarketing representatives. Without knowing how well or how poorly your people are doing and for what reason, you’ll never be able to help them improve or maintain consistent performance. Good tracking will lead to better forecasting, allowing you to achieve your goals, just like all the generations before us.
By the way, what you track is also important. An inbound call center will have very different needs from an outbound call center and even the industry you’re calling on matters. Knowing results that are key to sustaining and improving any call center will also provide you with an opportunity to be creative and engage in new initiatives.
I would think twice before you subscribe to the theory that Millennials aren’t cut out for cold calling and sales. Some of the best salespeople with whom I’ve interacted and bought from over the telephone I’m sure were of all ages.