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 the much-needed insight for business owners and sales directors.
Sully and Mike Wozowski, played humorously by John Goodman and Billy Crystal, 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 cannot continue to use scare tactics. To ensure sales team success, we need to use goodwill as the preeminent retention strategy.
Gen Z’s Login to Workforce
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. Most express that they left due to the workplace ethics including unrealistic expectations, lack of confidence in product and leadership, and feeling undervalued with unpredictable compensation changes.
Instead of identifying and fixing these internal issues by applying a few workplace solutions 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.
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. By continually looking for talent, it steers managers’ time away from revenue growth. Also, this impacts sales team success due to the decrease in production with empty sales development representative seats and issues with sales teamwork.
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. With the entrance of the “tech native” generation en masse, without a mindset shift, companies will lose out on much greater production, revenue, and sales.
Early analysis of the tech native generation shows that while they are unafraid of hard work, authentic human connection is essential for their well-being. Generation Z craves positive relationships, face-to-face time with managers, and constant feedback. Moreover, they want managers to be candid when they fail and work with them to solve the issues. When you have a better perspective of individuals, it becomes more possible to create an environment in which they can thrive. When managers endorse the “conveyor belt” mentality (consciously or subconsciously), they minimize an SDR’s humanity, value, and sales success.
The Gen Z Working Environment
There are multiple ways to focus on an individual and their needs, which can lead to greater commitment and longer tenures. Some of the workplace solutions that have worked at The Selling Factory include:
#1 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 they are interested in developing.
#2 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 sales teamwork has shaped the overall company’s goals.
#3 Layout a plan for improvement and advancement
Generation Z want 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 the tech native generation takes hold of entry level sales jobs, it is imperative to aggressively seek management options that value entry-level sales professionals in order to improve workplace ethics and behavior. Rather than constantly looking for replacements, we have to shift our mentality to focus on activating and advancing the people we hire. This can lead to greater sales team success, higher retention, and better overall production.