The Selling Factory

Managing Gen Z Sales Teams

Written by Adam Grossman

An ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development, he is a cofounder and the Chief Development Officer at The Selling Factory.

As a father of four, I have watched my fair share of Disney and Pixar movies. While each movie offers a teachable lesson for life, Monsters, Inc. provides much-needed insights for business owners and sales directors. The main characters, Sully and Mike Wozowski, played humorously by John Goodman and Billy Crystal, by happenstance find that the tried and true way of powering their monster world with screams pales in comparison to power generated by compassion and laughter. With turnover a major issue for entry level sales jobs and the entrance of Generation Z in the workplace, we too cannot continue to use scare tactics. To ensure sales success, we need to use goodwill as the preeminent retention strategy. 

Turnover plagues entry-level sales jobs, especially sales development representative (SDR) roles. According to The Bridge Group study, 34% of sales development representatives will turnover from year to year. Many reasons exist for SDR departures, including involuntary, however, most express that they left due to unrealistic expectations, lack of confidence in product and leadership, and feeling undervalued with unpredictable compensation changes. Instead of identifying and fixing these internal issues or outsourcing this function, most companies revert to a “conveyor belt” mentality – assuming that there is a never-ending cycle of qualified talent ready to replace the exodus (Chaine, 2017).. 

This approach confuses idealism with pragmatism – hope versus reality. It drains an organization’s balance sheet through the large amounts spent on recruiting and training, steers managers’ time away from revenue growth because they continually look for talent, and decreases production with empty sales development representative seats and issues with team dynamics. Emotionally, as sales leaders, we want to believe that there is an ongoing talent supply. However, with an employment rate under 3% and an endless number of available entry-level sales jobs, finding and retaining quality SDR professionals is brutal. Now, with the entrance of Generation Z in the workplace en masse, without a mindset shift, companies will lose out on much greater production, revenue, and sales. 

A technological native generation, early analysis of Generation Z in the workplace shows that while they are unafraid of hard work, authentic human connection is essential for their well-being. The Forbes article titled, “How Generation-Z Will Revolutionize the Workforce,” shows Generation Z craves positive relationships, face-to-face time with managers, and constant feedback. Moreover, they want managers to be candid (not obnoxious) when they fail and work with them to solve the issues. As the article concludes, “when you have better perspective of individuals, it becomes more possible to create an environment in which they can thrive” (Stahl, 2019). When managers, consciously or subconsciously, endorse the “conveyor belt” mentality, however, they minimize an SDR, their humanity, their value, and their sales success.. 

There are multiple ways to more fully focus on an individual and their needs, which can lead to greater commitment and longer tenures. Some of the strategies that have worked at The Selling Factory, which has an under 10% turnover rate, include: 

  • Take an interest – While an easy thing to do, most people are too busy to learn about another person. Beyond expressing cordial greetings, ask an individual how they are doing, what they like to do in their free time, and what skills are they interested in developing. 

  • Focus on the Why – Sales development representative work can be tedious. Take time to constantly discuss why the campaign is happening and why the specific vertical is instrumental to company success. Instead of constantly reminding people of performance metrics and quotas, celebrate the team efforts and how SDR teams, in particular, have shaped the overall company’s goals. 

  • Layout a plan for improvement and advancement – Generation Z wants to advance in their careers, and realize the importance of embracing failure to grow and learn. Take time to meet with individuals, be candid about performance, and provide pathways for improvement and develop a strategy for career growth. 

As Generation Z takes hold of entry level sales jobs, it is imperative to aggressively seek management options that value entry-level sales professionals. Shifting our mentality to focus on activating and advancing the people we hire, rather than constantly looking for replacements can lead to greater sales success, higher retention, and better overall production.

References:

Chaine, Anthony, December 3, 2017. “Why is Turnover So High in B2B Sales?

Stahl, Ashley. September 10, 2019. “How Generation-Z Will Revolutionize the Workforce.”

 

Kira Baker

Campaign Manager

Kira is a recent graduate from the University of Florida where she received her Master of Science in Entrepreneurship. She is passionate about helping businesses grow and connecting with new people. Some of her hobbies include traveling and hiking. She hope to visit all of the National Parks one day!

kira@thesellingfactory.com

Jared Glosser

Vice President

After graduating from UF in 2014 with a B.A. in history, Jared started his professional career Fundraising for a non-partisan political lobby in South Florida. In 2016, Jared moved back to Gainesville to work for a non-profit, recruit students for international travel opportunities, and pursue his MBA at UF. Jared has been with The Selling Factory since 2019 focusing on operations, client onboarding, and client success.

jared@thesellingfactory.com

Ian Massenburg

Chief Operating Officer

A graduate of University of Florida (B.A. 2001), Ian Massenburg brings over 18 years of sales executive and sales management experience to The Selling Factory. Before coming on-board, Ian worked alongside Brad at Infinite Energy, and then spent his next 3 years as VP of Partnerships selling SaaS products B2B. Ian brings his vast knowledge and experience to the team and to our partner companies served.

ian@thesellingfactory.com

Damien Paulk

Campaign Manager

Damien is a University of Florida graduate that recently joined the team full time after working as a Sales Development Intern for one year. As a Campaign Manager, Damien looks forward to contributing to the growth and success of The Selling Factory. When Damien is not at work he enjoys exploring Gainesville with his girlfriend and dog or watching the Gators dominate college football.

damien@thesellingfactory.com

Brendan Viehman

Campaign Manager

Brendan graduated from Liberty University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Project Management. For the past 5 years, he has enjoyed working with blockchain technology and cryptocurrency development. In his free time, he surfs and makes personal finance videos for his YouTube channel.

brendan@thesellingfactory.com

Savannah Howard

Campaign Manager

A graduate from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications, Savannah obtained her Bachelor of Science in public relations with a concentration in French. After almost two years as a sales development intern for The Selling Factory, she joined the leadership team in 2021 taking on the role of Campaign Manager. In her free time, Savannah enjoys going to concerts and festivals and cooking for her friends and family.

savannah@thesellingfactory.com

Zack Kampf

Campaign Manager

Zack is a creative technologist with experience in advertising, event planning, and game design. He started as an SDR in 2018 and has been with TSF ever since. Upon graduating UF in 2019 he became a campaign manager and is currently seeking a master's degree from NYU. In his spare time, you can find him at the intersection of Art & Technology!

zack@thesellingfactory.com

Josiah Blakemore

Campaign Manager

Josiah has over 8 years of sales experience, worked with Brad and Ian at Infinite Energy, and also spent time selling SaaS as Director of Partnerships at SharpSpring. He’s always been very competitive and has a love for sports and games. He enjoys solving problems and coaching team members to do the same!

josiah@thesellingfactory.com

Sue-Ming Frauenhofer

Marketing Manager

Sue-Ming received both her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Management from The University of Florida. As a student, she led a psychology research lab on goal achievement and life satisfaction and took on multiple roles while interning at The Selling Factory, including sales development, marketing, and recruiting, eventually leading to her current role as Marketing Manager. Through her creative and methodical vision, she engages both students and entrepreneurs to help them find their version of success.

sueming@thesellingfactory.com

Adam Grossman

Chief Development Officer

Adam is an ordained rabbi, who has founded multiple ventures focused on workforce development. Hired as CEO by a failing non-profit, in over 5 years, his ingenuity saved the organization, which led Slingshotfund.org to recognize it as one of North America’s most innovative Jewish non-profits. His expertise to identify, cultivate, and on-board talent ensures our student teams meet our partners’ needs.

adam@thesellingfactory.com

Brad Gamble

Chief Executive Officer

After graduating from UF in 1999 with a B.S.B.A, Brad Gamble has dedicated himself to sales management, branding, coaching, and building companies. He served as the VP of Sales & Marketing for Infinite Energy until 2014, when he founded The Selling Factory. He has dedicated himself to teaching critical skills to tomorrow’s leaders, and helping companies achieve sales success and revenue growth.

brad@thesellingfactory.com