Hiring Millennials and New Motivation Research

The Paradigm of the New Generation


If you’ve been hiring sales staff for the last 8-12 months, you already know strong salespeople are getting harder and harder to find.  Millennials are taking over the entry-level positions for inside sales, and understanding them is a full-time job in and of itself.

Here is an article showing the latest research from the Objective Management Group’s ‘Think Tank”.  You’ll want to take a few minutes to read this first.

We measure three types of motivation in sales:

Extrinsic – rewards, money, shiny objects, etc. Think of the new car. The new boat or jet ski. Money to travel the world as that is surely something millennials do. With extrinsic motivation, bigger commissions, bonuses, straight commission and spiffs work to motivate the individual to sell more, faster. Of course, we are saying sell with integrity!

  Intrinsic – doing a good job, having a nice work environment, and being part of something bigger.  Think in terms of psychic reward, feel good, emotional satisfaction.

  Altruistic – helping others, doing good for someone else and putting others first at the cost to one’s self.

As the research shows, millennials have intrinsic and altruistic motivation. Obviously, this is a challenge when we need them to make more sales.  There has been a buzz in the industry as to how to deal with this new breed of salespeople. The bandwagon says we need to change as employers.  We need to modify the workplace and the environment. We need to cater to the millennial.

Isn’t this part of the problem Boomer and Generation X leaders have with millennials? “Millennials have unrealistic expectations.  They are the selfie generation. They are entitled.” They are altruistic and intrinsically motivated. But common culture and the so-called thought leaders want employers to change. Change the comp plan! Change the work environment! Change the culture! Make it easy for them. Because if we don’t, they won’t work well, produce, or stick around long enough to get you, the employer, an ROI. Remember we are only talking about sales.

I have a better idea! Instead of continuing to cater to the millennial in sales let’s educate them. Let’s train them. Let’s teach them the values and beliefs to be more successful in sales.  Let’s raise the bar. Let’s coach them up.  Let’s work to change their intrinsic and altruistic motivation. Let’s give them stronger on-boarding. Let’s show them it not a bad thing to have to work for a trophy. Let’s show them how they can use our commission based comp plan to improve the quality of their life and the lives of others they care about. Let’s help them comprehend a more effective mindset.  Let’s re-frame their negative image of sales.  Let’s make them sales professionals who can stand on their own! Let’s teach them to be what they need to be to be a top performer. Let’s abolish this sales crushing mentality!

There is an old saying that comes to mind; “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink”.  Most people don’t know you can put salt in their food and make them thirsty. Let’s make the millennial thirsty!

How do you decide which millennial is better than the other when you are hiring?  Let us help. I know this is a strong claim but I can back it up!  92% of all the candidates we recommend you to hire are with the company a year later and in the top half of the sales team. 75% of the candidates that are hired against our recommendation don’t make it past six months.

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Author: Rocky LaGrone

Rocky LaGrone is a seasoned sales development expert with over 25 years in sales development and training working with well over 1,000 companies of all sizes in various industries.

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