If Millennials can knock McDonalds from the top of the fast food hierarchy, is any business safe from their wrath? In this Wall Street Journal article, the author points out why McDonalds is losing its luster with younger consumers and the findings are quite intriguing to say the least. To be honest, I often think the hyperbole that comes along with generational differences is sometimes overblown. I also believe that while my generation, the millennials, are misunderstood at times, it is incumbent upon us to understand why older generations feel and act the way they do. Understanding generational differences should always be a two way street. However, given the fact that Millennials will make up roughly 70% of the workforce by 2020, this topic is not going anywhere fast. What does this mean for sales departments and sales coaching? Well, a lot quite frankly, but for the sake of this blog I am going to focus on two critical quotes from the article above.
"The millennial generation has a wider range of choices than any generation before them."
“Millennials want to buy into a brand not just from it."
Millennials have grown up in a world of infinite choices and fast information: thousands of television channels, hundreds of variations of the same brand from which to choose, movies and music on demand, customized options specifically to meet their needs at every corner. The internet even knows what they like and what they don’t like and they receive their information at warp speed. Think of it this way, if you are over the age of 40, there is a good chance that when you were in high school or college, and completed a test or final, you had to wait days or weeks to find out how you did on your exam or to receive your grades. Not Millennials, we received our results lightning quick, often times on the same day. Customization and feedback are no longer a nice to have, they are an expectation. This presents a problem for a lot of people in sales leadership because they continue to manage their people instead of coach them. Moving forward, sales departments who work to build great sales coaches, measure sales coaching frequency and quality, will have a distinct competitive advantage over their competition when it comes to being able to acquire and retain top performing young talent.
Today’s sales leader must think about their personal brand. Am I a sales manager or am I a sales coach should be the question they are asking themselves. Gone are the days of hiring good talent and then staying out of their way. Gone are the days of not providing as much coaching and value to our highest performing reps. Gone are the days of being a compliance manager who simply makes sure their reps are doing their high-payoff activities and reports the outputs to senior management. Top performing Millennials want coaching, they want to get better and they want somebody who challenges them to achieve at the highest level while doing anything to help them get there. They want to know that the work they are doing is making a difference. They want a voice. Of course this is true of past generations of top talent as well, but the distinction is that Millennials are willing to leave in search for this type of sales coach. Some may call that being disloyal, but I think it is admirable because if you are a sales leader who is not fully vested in the success of every rep on your team then you should not be a sales leader. You don’t deserve that title or responsibility.
For most sales departments this shift from manager to coach will be a like turning a huge ship. Poor sales coaching has been institutionalized by the sales management industry and breaking bad habits will be challenging. If you think you are up for the challenge, read this blog from EcSell President that does a great job of describing how sales managers own every aspect of team performance. One thing sales departments can do immediately to start turning the ship is to measure their sales managers coaching. Why? Because without correlating coaching activity and behavior to why sales numbers get hit or missed, how do you know how well your managers are coaching? You see, it is very easy to acknowledge that great sales coaching has huge impact on sales results, but it is the execution and quality of execution that separates the great sales leaders from all of the rest. The good news for them is that they will avoid the proverbial ice berg up ahead.
Want to learn more about how to measure sales coaching? Click the link below.