Are You Ready for the Next Generation of Sales Leaders?
With millennials expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, more and more will be moving into leadership roles in the coming years.
As the torch is being passed, it’s important to prepare your sales professionals of today to lead your business tomorrow. With that in mind, here are 4 things to encourage your new generation of sellers to do as they move up the ladder.
#1. Be on the forefront of new trends and technologies
Encourage emerging sales leaders to get to know the latest management styles and sales strategies so when the time comes, they can choose what’s best for their team. Whether it’s account-based selling, social selling or other trends, they should be able to do research to determine if it’s just hype or something that will help sales teams be more productive and close more deals.
Up and coming leaders should also learn to evaluate technology platforms. The amount of solutions and emerging technologies available today can be overwhelming, so they should become informed on the latest technology trends and features, such as AI, so they can determine if it’s something worth considering for the sales team.
#2. Have a strong social presence
Salespeople have long existed without the ability to connect with prospects and companies online. But now social media provides reams of information on prospects, their work history, companies and connections – which gave way to the birth of social selling. Social media also serves as a tool for creating a professional brand, connections and a position as a thought leader, which is incredibly important for new and emerging leaders.
Millennial sales leaders should lead by example when it comes to social media and social selling. They should create and nurture a genuine social presence of their own, as well as learn about the best practices of social selling on LinkedIn, such as sharing content, commenting and connecting with prospects to identify their business triggers. It’s also important that they help reps develop relationships and have conversations across all channels, from phone and face-to-face, to email and social media. Social selling is an area that allows for a strong, blended relationship with buyers and takes away some of the guesswork of prospecting.
#3. Recruit in creative ways
The millennial sales leader should think outside the box when it comes to the recruiting process. Recruiting in today’s market can be compared to demand generation and how companies nurture leads, said Brainshark’s chief readiness officer, Jim Ninivaggi. He encourages emerging leaders to leverage social media and other networks to identify and nurture the best candidates for their organization. If they can establish interactions or relationships with these candidates, then when the time is right, they can be the first to reach out to them when there’s an opening or they’re looking for a job.
When recruiting, next-gen leaders will see more colleges and universities that are developing specialized sales-related tracks (some even have sales majors) and companies that have similar programs for interns and new hires. They should connect with these institutions and companies early so they can pluck candidates with specialized sales backgrounds. Especially in B2B, leaders should leverage technology to test candidates’ abilities. For example, test the candidate’s ability to pitch by having them record an elevator pitch using video coaching technology.
#4. Practice peer learning and mentorship
Peer learning and mentorship are not new concepts but emerging sales leaders can bring new life to them. Brainshark’s director of business development, Gerry Praysman, believes one of the most important aspects of being a leader is the ability to mentor others and be visible around your workplace. In today’s workplace, you’re always going to have people working remotely, but the more you can maximize your visibility and that of key members of your team, the more your team will benefit. He suggests sitting in on calls with key members of your team, being there to help others improve when talking to prospects, and making yourself available to discuss successes and challenges in person and in meetings.
Millennial sales leaders and their teams can benefit greatly from peer learning. Peer learning means capturing the knowledge and best practices of sales people of all levels and generations and sharing those learnings so everyone can benefit from them. Next-gen leaders should develop a process to capture customer win stories, company pitch examples, objection-handling tips, new product messaging and more so all reps can learn from veterans and A players.
For more on how to prepare the next-gen sales force, check out our eBook: Next-Gen Coaching for the Next-Gen Sales Force.