When it comes to Millennials in the sales workforce, you have opinions, and you’re not afraid to state them.
On LinkedIn, I recently asked you to tell me what you like about Millennials, and I was blown away by your response. It turns out, there’s a lot to like. The question received more than 36,000 views, and the comments flooded in.
Among those comments, several consistent themes emerged, drawing an optimistic picture of these young folks who will be our industry’s future. For this article, I pulled those themes and organized them into categories. Here’s the picture that emerged, what you really think about Millennials:
One: They’re hungry to learn
Again and again, this characteristic was mentioned, including by at least one person who self-identified as a Millennial. “They seek constructive feedback,” said Jean-Yves Piton. "They want to be coached", said several other people.
Scott Cooksey, a 44-year-old senior sales manager, said that his team includes some “wildly talented Millennials,” and that their “willingness to try new things have helped us find new efficiencies.”
This hunger to learn helps Millennials get up to speed quickly, and it also provides a lasting benefit for companies operating in fast-changing environments. The Millennial’s ability and willingness to see when there is something new to learn, and then to learn it, helps organizations stay at the top of their game.
Two: They’re adaptable to change
No previous generation has grown up in a world that changes as fast as ours does now. When Millennials were young, their parents didn’t have smart phones. Now we can’t leave our homes without them. They were born before social media, and grew up in a world where new social platforms emerge daily.
As a result, Millennials are comfortable and skilled in adapting to change. This quality came up again and again in your comments, echoed by members of older generations and self-professed Millennials. In the sales environment, this adaptability is critical as our technologies, social selling platforms, products, and the needs of our customers constantly change.
In fact, not only are Millennials adaptable, they are often the drivers behind change. They’re unwilling to accept the status quo unquestioned, which can make them unpopular with older leaders who don’t like to be questioned. But that very questioning, when embraced, can help organizations drive greater efficiency and better ways of doing things.
Three: They’re driven to succeed
Stephen Krikorian described this characteristic as an “unrelenting drive to prove they can and will be #1 on the floor.” He wasn’t alone in calling this out as a key feature of the Millennial zeitgeist. It came up over and over in your comments.
This drive to succeed sometimes manifests as competitiveness, yet the Millennial generation seems to balance it with a collaborative team spirit as well. Dan Liska called this quality, “co-op-petitive.”
Sean Low described the Millennial drive like this: “They are driven, not afraid of failures, and have no patience to waste time to rise up to the occasion when their talents are needed.”
Sales teams that embrace and nurture Millennials benefit from both the competitive spirit and the collaborative approach that Millennials bring.
Four: They’re tech and social savvy
Another side effect of growing up when they did, is that Millennials have never known a world that wasn’t technologically advanced and filled with social media options. As a result, they understand how buyers use social in buying decisions, and they intuitively understand how to manage the social selling environment.
Likewise, they understand technology, and are unafraid to try new platforms or learn new ways of interacting in it. In an environment where new technologies are constantly emerging that help sellers be more efficient and effective, this is a critical quality.
Five: They’re passionate
Perhaps more than any other quality, this one was repeated over and over. The Millennial passion takes many forms, from caring about their jobs and teammates, to caring about life balance. It’s important to many Millennials for their work to have meaning, and purpose.
And if it has that, then they’ll devote themselves to it with incredible energy. As Chris Bevins says, a Millennial with a purpose has “more energy than the little pink bunny.” One person cited the Millennial’s “addictive enthusiasm,” and others mentioned their willingness to fight for what they believe in.
And much more
While those five characteristics consistently rose to the top of the conversation, they weren’t the only qualities that impress you about the Millennial generation. You cited their big hearts, their creativity, and their open-mindedness. Many of you also said that they’re efficiency-driven, with little patience for wasted time.
While no generation is all one thing and, as you were quick to point out, there are good performers and bad performers, good actors and bad actors, in every generation, I think the best way to sum up what you had to say about Millennials is this:
They are dreamers and disruptors, courageous, authentic, and, of course, they are going to change the world. Just as every new generation does, but perhaps this time with more energy.
Does this sum it up for you? What do you love about Millennials? Sound off in the comments.
You can also join the original conversation and read more of your comments here.