How Millennials Are Changing the Way Inside Sales Hiring and Training is Done

September 4, 2014

Like it or not, the Millennial generation doesn’t think, work, or behave like generations before it. But as sales expert and bestselling author Josiane Feigon explains, that’s not necessarily a bad thing — particularly for inside sales organizations that know how to adapt to those differences.

Inside Sales Hiring Trends: Millennials Are Changing the Game

When Josiane Feigon used to design sales training sessions for her clients, the co-founder and President of TeleSmart Communications typically focused on creating highly-structured, two-day events that fully immersed new inside sales reps in everything they needed to know to be successful.
Today, however, Feigon’s approach is much different. Instead of two-day training sessions, she now builds programs around one or four hour training sprints. And instead of relying on the once-effective “talking head” training approach, Feigon’s program now favors a shorter, more collaborative peer-led curriculum.
The reason for the change?
“It has so much to do with the large numbers of Millennials flooding inside sales organizations,” Feigon says. “They’ve got a different approach to learning and they don’t buy-in to educational or professional training unless they see a clear benefit to doing so. You have to be creative about how you approach that training — especially in the context of inside sales — if you want it to stick.”

The Impact of Google, Siri, and Social Media on Sales Training

Feigon says one of the biggest contributors to the millennial generation’s skepticism of (and disinterest in) traditional sales training techniques is its ability to self-educate virtually on-demand through technology.

“Millennials have grown up with devices and technology that help them find whatever they need, right when they need it. If they want to find best practices for cold calling, they don’t see the value in sitting through a two-day session when they can just watch a YouTube video and find exactly what they need.”

— Josiane Feigon, co-founder and President of TeleSmart Communications

So, rather than try to fight Millennials’ need for instant gratification, Feigon says businesses should be trying to adapt to that new way of learning.
“The need for instant gratification often gets mistaken or misconstrued as Millennials being needy, lazy, or impatient, but their ambitious nature is all about them getting something NOW,” Feigon says. “If you structure a training program and include delivery methods that speak to that need, you will get their full attention. But if you structure long training session and force them to spend hours or days analyzing or pontificating on something they think they could find the answer to in 30 seconds, you will not get good results.”

The Right Way to Train Millennials for Sales Roles: 4 Keys

So, what should inside sales organizations be doing to attract and better engage the millennial workforce? Feigon recommends appealing to that generation’s social appetite and career ambition. For instance:

  • Build sales training programs around shorter, more collaborative sessions: Millennials generally prefer to share ideas and information with each other, rather than listen to a “talking head” with authority lecturing on best practices.
  • Appeal to Millennials’ ambition and fearlessness: Unlike generations before them, millennials are fearless when it comes to calling at the highest level C-Suite. It is better to train and shape their ambitious nature than to try to pull them out of their fear and paralysis and low-self esteem when they don’t feel worthy of speaking at the highest level.
  • Stop thinking Millennials are motivated by the same things as Gen X or Y reps: As great as a $25 Starbucks gift card might sound to you, it’s not really the type of prize that millennials respond to. Instead, Feigon recommends offering more culturally-focused benefits like company Happy Hour, trips to a professional sports game, additional paid days off, etc.
  • Bring the FUN factor when advertising your company: Millennials value workplace fun and it is more important for them to work for a company that promises more social interaction and community engagement than working solo.

The bottom line is that if you’re going to attract, train, and retain the very best millennial sales talent, then your business has to start thinking differently about how you engage that generation.
“A job offer on company letterhead won’t resonate, and neither will a 3-day sales training program hosted in some bleak air-conditioned conference room,” Feigon says. “Sending a job offer via an Instagram photo (something ePrize recently did) or conducting team training off-site at some really cool location, on the other hand, can have a massive impact on the Millennials you recruit.”

How Does Your Sales Hiring Stack Up?

Download our free sales interview benchmark guide to find out. Inside you’ll find the necessary questions to ask to really dig into a candidate’s experience and assess them on the three key components — Drive, Selling Skills, and Personal Attributes — that ultimately separate the best sales reps from the rest.

Image by Robert Scoble 


President and CEO

Josiane is an author, sales futurist and change agent. She advises companies and business leaders on the changing sales landscape and how it impacts workforce productivity. Currently, she is the author of and President & CEO of <a href="">TeleSmart Communications</a>.