Molding Millennials Into High-Performing Sales Reps Is a Must

According to a SiriusDecisions survey, more than half (56 percent) of high-performing sales reps are Baby Boomers, and every day for the next 13 years, 10,000 Baby Boomers will be eligible for retirement, creating a major brain drain in the sales profession.

As Millennials start to take over the U.S. workforce this year and Baby Boomers reach retirement, organizations will need to think about more than just attracting and recruiting Millennials; they’ll need to think about how they will invest in their development as sales professionals and leaders. It’s a formidable challenge, especially when you consider that a majority of B2B organizations struggle to ever achieve high-performing sales teams, never mind address the unique needs and requirements of Millennials. According to Aberdeen Group, two-thirds of sales reps fail to reach their annual sales quota.

It Takes a Village

High-performing reps are not born, they’re made. Typically, recruiters play a major role in the hiring process; sales enablement professionals arrive next, to bring the individual up to speed for future success in the organization. Then come front-line managers, who manage the individual on a day-to-day basis.

But bringing in sales enablement professionals and front-line managers earlier in the recruiting process can be extremely beneficial since their experience with high-performing reps can help align the needs of sales with those doing the recruiting, making it a more efficient process when it comes to finding the right people.

The most successful companies will also reinforce on-boarding activities with the help of coaches for new reps in the field, and in this way supplement the reps’ development until they become established in their territory. By bringing sales management into the on-boarding process early, front-line managers can make coaching a continuous part of a sales rep’s development.

A Data-Driven Mind-Set

To show management the value of this approach, data goes a long way. While the aim of any formal on-boarding process is to help reps meet or exceed their quarterly and annual quotas faster, a data-driven approach will show whether reps are on track to meet their goals and help diagnose the cause of any problems. For example, the correlation of proficiency (discovery skills, objection handling, negotiating, etc.) and performance data within a CRM system will provide valuable insights into whether reps are running into trouble and the cause of any problems long before issues arise.

Secondly, when it comes to coaching, most organizations face certain obstacles—managers are strapped for time, many lack knowledge on how to coach, and executives often fail to deliver support. For instance, managers may focus on a single opportunity rather than help new hires develop the skills and behaviors they need to achieve success across their current and future pipeline. Using data, managers can more easily diagnose the skills each rep needs to improve, and then target their coaching, so that they focus on the areas that will have the greatest impact. Moreover, high performers value coaching—the SiriusDecisions study shows that a lack of coaching is one of the top three reasons high performers leave.

Finally, by correlating sales capabilities data with the background and experience of top-performing reps, organizations can create a hiring profile to reflect the skill sets and background most likely to succeed in driving buying decisions. Data derived from this process can also help verify hiring decisions and help recruiters better understand the ideal qualities and capabilities to look for in future hires.

As the demand for top talent outpaces supply, these strategies will be necessary to help organizations stay competitive. With a collaborative recruiting and on-boarding process and data-driven technology, organizations can hire the right people, boost on-boarding success, and drive high-performing teams, ones that will ultimately drive revenue for the business.

Lisa Clark is vice president of marketing at Qstream. She has 20 years of experience building high-value software companies, brands and market share. Connect with Qstream on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or Google+.

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