As part of an international coalition of sales development experts, I have access to a whole range of resources who call themselves “experts.” However, only a select few actually get on my list of Dantotsu sales development firms. Rocky is one of them. His sales, management and leadership strategies are proven and practical. He sees clearly amidst confusion and chaos and he helps his clients do the same.

Q: Tell us about yourself and your purpose at Sales Development Expert.

Rocky: Our purpose is to build world-class sales teams and help our fellow man improve the quality of their life and the lives of those around them.

Q: What are some of the biggest problems you see in sales teams today?

Rocky: Overall, I see sales teams that aren’t properly managed or measured. They’re not motivated effectively, and they are not held truly accountable. They are not coached on a regular schedule and therefore flounder to mediocrity. Sales teams don’t have clear achievable goals that are married with their personal goals, so they don’t produce enough new business. There is typically no sales process to guide the salesperson or to provide a coaching vehicle for sales management.

Q: Rocky, as you’re working with business owners, what are some of the problems that you’re seeing as they relate to developing sales and leadership talent in millennials?

Rocky: There are three very specific things that have happened in the last ten years that have changed the selling world and make it difficult for business owners to grow revenue through their sales departments. The first is that the impact of 9/11 changed the idea of working for the almighty dollar to working more for a cause and a quality of life. In the United States, 9/11 brought about a pause. People realized that life is short, and the importance of family and friends came into focus. Work-life balance became the mantra, and it was adopted by millennials.

The second observation is that technology has made great advances. Rapid advancements of available information for buyers via the Internet have allowed for a cultural shift in sales to bring what would have been an outside sales position to an inside position. Add to that what is now dubbed Inbound Marketing and we have an entirely new sales landscape.

Q: What’s the biggest impact you’re seeing from this trend in sales?

Rocky: The buyer is showing up much farther down the path and is much more educated. Millennials fill this new role in sales function as long as they remain patient with the buyer. The challenge is with communication and persuasion skills. Because they have embraced technology their whole lives, they don’t always anticipate the buyer’s questions. They sell themselves, their employers, their products, their services, and their prospects short. They don’t always understand why it’s critical to ask better and more questions to ensure the buyers are considering the right products and services.

Q: Helpful insights, Rocky. And what’s the third trend?

Rocky: Millennials were raised by baby boomers and gen Xers. They were coddled over inclusion and achievement without effort. They were over-protected with safety, rules, regulations, helicopter parenting, and the promise of another trophy. That created instant gratification, risk aversion, and team performance over individual acceleration.

Millennials are very concerned about life-work balance, and they’re motivated by personal time. They want to contribute to making the world a better place for their future and for generations to come. They’re motivated by being part of a team and by being part of something bigger than themselves. They want a positive working environment that is environmentally friendly.

Q: Motivation is an important part of sales. How does all this impact motivation?

Rocky: Millennial motivation is intrinsic, not extrinsic. We have access to Objective Management Group’s database with well over one million salespeople that have been evaluated. In just the last five years, we’ve seen an exact dynamic flip in the motivation measurements that are identified. Today, we find that 78 percent of the people in sales that we evaluate are intrinsically motivated compared to five years ago when 78 percent of the people were extrinsically motivated. Employers who understand this will have an extreme advantage. It’s kind of like the old saying: “If we know what the rules of the game are, we know how to win the game.” One of the biggest challenges for seasoned business leaders is that the rules have changed.

Q: And how does this all tie into accountability, which is an important part of any sales team?

Rocky: There must be more clarity with focus on the reward and the positive outcome. Just like everybody else, millennials have to be held accountable, but the way you go about doing that is very different. If you really try to hold them accountable with repercussions and consequences, they have a tendency to shut down. Communicating specific expectations is key. In reality, you can make a really simple change by making the measurements clear up-front. There are no surprises when you say, “Here’s what you’re going to be measured on. Here’s when you’re going to be measured. Here’s how you’re going to be rewarded when you meet or exceed those expectations.”

Q: If you were to summarize some of the key ideas for business owners and leaders who are looking to raise the bar on leading, managing, coaching, and mentoring millennials, what would be your top three recommendations?

Rocky:

1. Don’t assume that everyone in the millennial marketplace has a sisu spirit. p.166

2. It’s your job to figure out how to pull it out of them.

3. Don’t give up too early.

Q: Thanks for those insights, Rocky. 

Copyright, Danita Bye, 2018. All Rights Reserved.