How to Recruit Millennials for B2B Sales

By Chris Carlson, President of Sales Talent Inc.  (www.linkedin.com/in/jchriscarlson/)


This the first of a two-part preview of an upcoming July 30th Webinar from Chris Carlson, President of Sales Talent Inc., a Seattle based B2B sales recruiting firm. 


 Learn how to recruit millennials for sales roles. 

Much has been written about recruiting Millennials; who they are, what they look for and how to hire them.  79 million strong, those Americans born between 1980 and 1996 represent 25% of the U.S.’s total population and will account for 40% of our country’s workforce by 2020.  There are definitely some key differences when trying to recruit Millennials; especially as it relates to hiring B2B sales professionals.  With this blog and my upcoming July, 23rd blog and July 30th webinar hosted by pipelinedeals.com I will try to separate fact from fiction and more importantly, provide a practical framework for successfully recruiting Millennial sales professionals.  

In this blog, I will take you into a few key points about this generation.  In two weeks, I’ll cover how Millennials search for jobs:  where, how and what they look for in an employer.  With the webinar, I’ll focus on putting together a cohesive strategy to attract and hire top Millennial sales talent.

Stereotypes

“What’s in it for me?” and “Don’t tell me what to do.” are two prevailing stereotypes voiced whenever the topic of Millennials is brought up.  On the May 20, 2013 cover of Time Magazine, we see Millennials labeled as “The ME, ME, ME Generation.” I find these characterizations rather humorous given the labels my generation, Generation X, the “Latchkey Kids” received as I was entering the workforce (and I wonder if most Millennials know what “Latchkey Kids” means).  

In my experience, it’s dangerous to paint with a broad brush when discussing any group.  To this point, a very interesting 2015 study by Oracle on Millennial Buying Behaviors challenges the notion that all Millennials behave similarly.  The authors were able to distinguish five distinct sub groups within Millennials, 2 of which align with our target audience:  B2B sales professionals.  These 2 sub groups “Up & Comers” and “Mavens” were the most educated and the highest earners.  Dig into the article above if you’d like to take a deeper dive into Oracle’s findings on how to sell to these Millennials.  Prefer not to read the 15 pages? Just drop the stereotypes that Millennials are afraid of hard work and are difficult to manage.  Facebook, Linkedin, Google, etc. are loaded with Millennials and seem to be doing just fine.

Meaningful Differences

I personally believe that a lot of the “difficulties” that most business leaders voice about leading and relating to Millennials are a function of age gap.  After all, 25 year olds have behaved differently than 45 year olds throughout time.  Just ask your insurance company.  With that said, there are meaningful differences and some of the stereotypes fit.  A few of these are important to understand if you are going to succeed in recruiting and leading this generation.

Digital Natives & Noise

Millennials are the first generation to be brought up completely in the digital age.  To reach them, you must be ready to attract and engage with them online.  In fact, most buyers today (Millennials or otherwise) start the buying journey with online research.  This applies to searching for a new job as well.  Unfortunately, this is a very, very “noisy” environment with the average attention span of an online user being just 8 seconds (which just happens to be 1 second less than a goldfish’s).  

Despite or perhaps because of their immersion in the digital age; it’s a misconception that all “digital natives” are technologically savvy.  In a 2014 study by Baron, a very interesting finding was Millennials’ preference for reading books in print.  They, in fact, prefer print when reading important information (such as studying for a test) at a higher rate than any other age group.  There were several reasons for this but mostly it came down to reading comprehension.  When reading Web pages, only 16% of users read word-by-word with most users skimming and/or multi-tasking.  I’m reinforcing this point because it is imperative that you understand how your brand and job opportunities are viewed and how to get your messaging noticed online.  In the July 30th webinar, I’ll share a few tips on how to gain and keep the attention of online Millennials.

Lack of Respect

Dr. Tim Elmore is considered to be a leading authority on Millennials.  One of his recent blogs, “Earning the Right to be Heard By Students” highlights the results of a recent study that found a shocking lack of respect shown by today’s students towards their teachers.  It’s not a big leap to believe that Millennials also show less respect towards their bosses than previous generations.  Rather than fighting against this truth, Dr. Elmore shares how to “reach” this generation.  In his words, “Youth do not have the innate need to get their way.  They do have the innate need to be heard.  We gain respect as a response to showing respect.”  Therein lies the key and it can be boiled down to one word – Listening.  In our webinar I’ll share what listening and specifically listening online means to Millennials as it relates to recruiting.  Getting this point right is crucial when targeting Millennials.

Diversity

Due to strong immigration from Asia and Latin America over the last quarter century Millennials are the most racially diverse generation in America thus far with 43% being non-white.  This is a significant shift from the Boomer generation that was far less racially balanced with only 28% being non-white.  Another shift is a widening gap in college graduation rates between genders.  31% of male Boomers graduated college vs 30% of female Boomers.  As of 2014 (Millennials are still coming of college graduation age), 27% of female Millennials had graduated college vs 21% of male Millennials.  The good news in this is the projection that Millennials will become the best educated generation ever.  If you are wondering why it’s so difficult to recruit sales talent, perhaps you’re looking in wrong the places (or for the wrong faces).  

Looking Forward

In my July 23rd blog we’ll take a look at where Millennials search for jobs, how they search and what they’re looking for in an employer. On July 30th, I’ll be hosting a webinar to share my top strategies for recruiting, hiring, and retaining top Millennial talent for B2B Sales. 


 Chris Carlson-founder and President of Sales Talent

Chris Carlson is the founder and President of Sales Talent Inc, a Seattle based National B2B sales recruiting firm. You can click through to sign up for and follow his Blog or view Sales Talent’s current Sales Openings.