This article originally appeared in the November 2023 issue of Security Business magazine. When sharing, don’t forget to mention Security Business magazine on LinkedIn and @SecBusinessMag on Twitter.
When I was preparing to write this month’s article, I asked an executive who works for a system integration client of ours about a topic. Without hesitation, he answered: “How to manage young salespeople.” Thankfully, I had worked with two clients in the past on this topic and had some material, but I had to update it because it has been five years. After conducting my research, I’m glad that I took the time to make the changes, because a lot has changed as Generation Z has taken the reins from the Millennials.
Here are nine things all leaders should do to get the most out of their young salespeople. For this piece, I envisioned young Millennials and Gen-Z salespeople – 35 and younger. Before proceeding, I expect that some of the points will frustrate you. In fact, you might say “over my dead body” a few times. I understand that change is difficult, but the alternative is dire … and expensive.
1. Understand the differences.
Obviously, there are many differences between fifty-somethings and twenty-somethings, but can you articulate them? Once you understand the reasons behind these differences, you will be in a much better position to lead young salespeople. I suggest doing a simple online search and reading three articles.
2. Define non-negotiable policies.
You can make some concessions to current policies, such as virtual working practices, but define the things on which you will not compromise. Once completed, run it by young people that you trust for feedback.
3. Use software tools to understand their instincts and needs.
There are dozens of software tools that can teach you what people need to be satisfied in their work. Get past age and let these tools determine the behavioral instincts of your younger salespeople. We use Predictive Index, but there are several effective options.
4. Meet in person frequently.
Research says that while members of Gen-Z are not comfortable communicating in person, they enjoy personal interaction and want to become better at it. Don’t assume they simply want a texting relationship.
5. Keep score on a regular basis.
Young people get nervous when they don’t know where they stand. Tell them on a regular basis – no more annual reviews, make them quarterly or monthly. Show them key performance indicators and let them know how they are doing.
6. Don’t expect them to prospect for new accounts in the traditional way.
This doesn’t mean that they won’t prospect, but young people don’t like conflict and don’t understand the logic of low-probability activity like traditional prospecting. Don’t give up. Teach them modern methods of prospecting.
7. Don’t expect sales incentives to excite them as much.
Young people want more than money. They’re interested in cause and community. Yes, even salespeople.
8. Train them.
Young salespeople will not wing it. They must be prepared, or they won’t try. Train them, and then they will move mountains for you.
9. Let them know about their unique opportunity to position themselves with their customers.
When people buy technology, they are more comfortable with young salespeople; however, most don’t trust the soft skills of young people. If a young salesperson shows up on time, dresses professionally, and uses eye-contact, their customers are ecstatic. Make sure they know and understand this opportunity.
One last difference between generations should be noted: Young salespeople don’t care about switching companies every year or two, and that behavior has become standard. If you don’t try to work with young salespeople, they will leave.
Chris Peterson is the founder and president of Vector Firm (www.vectorfirm.com), a sales consulting and training company built specifically for the security industry. Use "Security Business" as a coupon code to receive a 10% lifetime discount at www.vectorfirmacademy.com. To request more info about the company, visit www.securityinfowatch.com/12361573.