Raise your hand if you’re drowning in “Millennial Mania!” You’re not alone. With millennials expected to reach 50 percent of the workforce by 2020, there is certainly a plethora of data and opinions about how this generation will perform. Unfortunately, there are also a lot of misconceptions – like, millennial sellers would rather text or use social media to communicate, so they will struggle to build meaningful, long-term relationships with clients.
Concerned that some of these millennial misconceptions are holding us back, I decided to challenge some friends and industry experts with this question: “What is the most annoying myth about millennials in sales, and why is it inaccurate?” One of my favorite responses was from my friend, and famed sales transformation strategist, Mike Kunkle. Here’s his perspective:
MK: I’m not sure whether it’s the attention span myth or laziness that is more inaccurate, but I’ll go with attention span.
There are environmental and genetic factors that influence behaviors. The human brain can be conditioned, but humans evolve very slowly. So, of course, a rapid-fire, over-scheduled childhood, the always-connected device-driven world, media that screams for attention in sound bites, and more, all influence millennials and younger generations (and the rest of us).
But I’ve rarely seen a laser-focus and dedicated attention like that exhibited by my now-adult stepson when he was playing X-Box. Millennials, and anyone who doesn’t have clinically-diagnosed Attention Deficit Disorder, can pay attention if they want to, and focus on whatever interests them. Like everything, it’s a bell curve. Let’s not brand an entire generation.
My concern about this myth is that we’ll actually start treating these young people like they can’t focus and end up with a self-fulfilling prophecy. Give them a chance, set expectations clearly, train them well (teach them the what, why and how), coach and mentor them like any employee deserves, and provide reinforcement and incentives that matter to them, and you might be surprised at how well they can focus on what matters (the buyers, their situation, their desired outcomes and helping them achieve them), and sell.
My caveat: all millennials won’t be able to sell well, any more than all boomers could. Regardless of generation – hire right.
Astute as usual. I also refuse to impugn an entire generation. There are as many ways to advocate for millennials to embrace sales as a career as there are stereotypes to preclude them from even trying. Here is a generation that was literally born into an advanced technological world that surrounds them professionally, socially and economically. Suggesting that they all have short attention spans or rely too much on technology is foolish. This is their reality. That’s like saying my grandmother, a child of The Great Depression, needed to put her coupons down and just pay full price for bananas. Wasn’t going to happen. She was a product of her economic and social circumstance – no different from any other generation. Even more reason to set your emotions and opinions aside and rely on more scientific means to attract the right sales talent.
About Mike Kunkle:
Mike Kunkle is a well-known sales transformation strategist, practitioner, speaker, and writer. He’s spent 22 years as a corporate leader or consultant, helping companies drive dramatic revenue growth through best-in-class learning strategies and his proven-effective sales transformation methodology. Today, Mike is leading Transforming Sales Results, LLC, writing, speaking, leading webinars, designing sales learning systems, and guiding clients through all aspects of their sales transformation. You can connect with Mike on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter at @Mike_Kunkle.