By Rick Mullen
Maintenance Sales News Associate Editor
Speaking recently to an audience of cleaning industry professionals, including both those who do the actual cleaning and those who distribute janitorial/sanitation supplies, Jim Pancero, of Jim Pancero, Inc., located in Dallas, TX, asked the question: “Will you be able to attract the best millennials to your sales team?”
Pancero founded his advanced sales training and consulting company in 1982, and has been involved in business-to-business selling for more than 40 years.
He defined some terms and shared pertinent facts concerning the discussion on how to attract the best millennials. Pancero said a person’s age tends to define his or her philosophy. Below are the generations that have significantly changed, or will change, culture and how business is conducted:
• Over 90 years old: The Greatest Generation (born before 1925);
• From 71 to 90: The Silent Generation (1923 to 1944);
• From 51 to 70: Baby Boomer Generation (1945 to 1964);
• From 38 to 54: Generation X (1961 to 1977);
• From 16 to 37: Generation Y/Millennials (1978 to 2000); and,
• Under 15: Generation Z (2000 to 2015).
Currently, there is a major shift in the industry as leadership and management roles are changing hands from baby boomers to millennials. For example, more than 50 percent of the current U.S. workforce is millennials. As the last 30 years have been ruled by baby boomers and their philosophies, the next 30 years will see millennials and their views and ways of doing things coming to the fore, Pancero said.
Pancero shared information concerning some of the differences between how boomers think about and approach their jobs and lifestyles versus millennials. He spoke about the differences between the two generations as they played sports as children. For example, a large part of boomers’ sports experiences came from choosing up sides and playing on neighborhood fields, without a formal structure or coaches being involved.
In contrast, millennials grew up playing on teams with rules, coaches and uniforms.
“Millennials have grown up being a member of a team that has a coach,” Pancero said. “Many of you have played golf all your life and brag that you have never had a lesson. The parents of every millennial who plays sports put them through a whole series of lessons for whatever they wanted to play, beginning in elementary school. Millennials have been taught structure and they have been taught processes, because every sport they played had a coach, unlike the boomers.”
In comparing the two generations when it comes to technology, boomers tend to be resistant and unresponsive, while millennials embrace it and have made technology the center of their lives.
Communication is critical in running a successful business, and boomer managers need to know how millennials choose to interact. Boomers tend to communicate in a more single line fashion, whereas millennials tend to participate more in a “group talk” scenario, Pancero said.
For example, a boomer sales person might approach a company by going to a lower level manager, or “gatekeeper.”
In contrast, the millennial mindset is, “Why go to a gatekeeper? Why not go directly to the person who has the answer?” Pancero said. “This is how they have grown up — in a community of communication. In contrast, if you are a sales manager and you’re managing boomers, you might talk to some of them only once a week, unless they have a problem.”
Pancero said millennials are typically not going to respond to the boomer manager’s “my door is always open” approach.
“Millennials need ‘chatter’ communication, because that is their comfort zone,” Pancero said.
Pancero alluded to his daughter, who is a millennial in the workforce, and how she and her friends communicate.
“They (millennials) are in constant communication, but they are not really talking about anything,” he said.
For example, millennials might talk about a great restaurant they found or what a politician said the night before, etc.
“There is no real depth of conversation — it is ‘surface’ versus ‘depth’ of communication,” Pancero said. “Millennials want ongoing ‘chatter’ communication, because that is the culture and the environment they desire.”
Pancero said both generations also have different ideas on how to approach projects and conduct sales. Boomer sales people tend to take the lone “gunfighter” approach in working their territories. In contrast, millennials prefer a “SWAT team” approach. Boomer sales managers tend to expect independence — they leave their sales people alone until they ask for help.
A lone “gunfighter” boomer sales person most values independence and the ability to make a lot of money. He or she strives to make money by outselling everyone else on the team. In contrast, millennials prefer to be part of a team, while receiving coaching and guidance. They seek to make money by contributing the most to the team’s success, according to Pancero.
“The millennial asks, ‘If I join this company, what kind of coaching am I going to get? What kind of training am I going to receive?’” Pancero said. “The boomer manager answers, ‘Well, we assume we are hiring you because you know how to sell. Each person here probably does it different, with his or her own style of selling. You’ll figure out your own style and what works for you.’”
Pancero continued with some role playing, as both a manager and a millennial:
Millennial: “What kind of process, what kind of steps, what kind of (training) do you have?”
Boomer manager: “Everybody kind of does his or her own thing.”
Millennial: “What kind of coaching am I going to get?”
Boomer manager: “Well, we assume if you have a problem, you will call us. Otherwise, get out there, get going and get things done.”
With the above conversation in mind, Pancero asked the audience: “Would a millennial be attracted to that company? Why would a millennial want to work there?
“How are you going to attract millennials to apply for jobs in this industry, compared to other industries? The reality is, the new people you are going to add to your sales team, I will bet, are going to be millennials.”
How To Motivate Millennials
To further help managers understand how to motivate millennials, Pancero offered the following points:
• You cannot motivate anyone to do anything;
• Everyone is already highly motivated;
• People are motivated for their reasons, their experiences and their culture; and,
• All you can do as a leader is create an environment in which each individual can motivate himself or herself.
“It is impossible to motivate people, because everybody is already highly motivated,” Pancero said. “If you are breathing, you are motivated. Zig Ziglar (Hilary Hinton “Zig” Ziglar — an American author, salesman, and motivational speaker) used to say, ‘If you want to see unmotivated people, go to the cemetery.’
“Everybody is highly motivated. The problem is, they are motivated for their own reasons, biases and background, not yours.”
Pancero said boomers tend to work from the idea that a person gets a job and stays for 30 years with one company, i.e., one career with one organization. Not so with millennials.
“Why don’t millennials feel that way? Because they watched their parents being laid off when they were in their 50s, when their employer downsized,” Pancero said.
Thus, as studies show, millennials will have several careers during their working lives. A story written by Jeanne Meister, co-author of the best selling book, The 2020 Workplace: How Innovative Companies Attract, Develop & Keep Tomorrow’s Employees Today, published on the www.forbes.com website in August 2012, said the following:
“The average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is about half that.
“Ninety-one percent of millennials … expect to stay in a job for less than three years, according to the Future Workplace ‘Multiple Generations @ Work’ survey of 1,189 employees and 150 managers. That means they would have 15 – 20 jobs over the course of their working lives.”
Again, Pancero alluded to his millennial daughter at her place of employment.
“At her workplace, they have a rule that says a person is not allowed to be promoted if he or she has worked less than a year in a particular position,” Pancero said. “So, once you have worked one year in a position, you can interview within the company for a different job. Her career assumption is that every year she is going to change responsibility, or change territories and she is going to change jobs.”
“One problem is many managers are still trying to look for more boomers to replace the ones who are exiting,” Pancero said. “I ask managers what are they looking for in the next sales person they will recruit. They say, ‘I want someone who is a hard driver … who will work 60 hours a week to make it happen and be a self-motivator.
“The first question a boomer seeking employment will ask is, ‘How much money can I make if I work for your company, and will you leave me alone so I can get the job done?’ A boomer manager would say that prospect would be the perfect employee.
“The first two questions a millennial candidate would ask are, ‘How much time do I get off, and who is my coach?’”
Pancero said in contrast to a boomer manager’s ideal sales person who is willing to work 60 hours a week, millennials value a company that respects their personal time. Indeed, they most often view time off more valuable than money. For example, if a company runs a sales contest, the boomer sales person will want the prize for winning to be money, whereas the millennial would prefer extra time off for coming out on top.
“Personal time has more value to a millennial than does winning a couple of thousand dollars in a contest,” Pancero said.
He presented information on the kinds of contests that motivate new behaviors for both boomers and millennials:
• Boomers prefer longer contests with large dollar payouts, while millennials like more frequent, but shorter in duration contests, focusing on various goals;
• Boomers would rather win money than an experience, such as tickets for a ball game. Millennials are motivated by a Friday afternoon off or the excitement of being rewarded with an event, such as a ball game, rather than money; and,
• For boomers, contests are a source of income, while millennials — even though they love money, too — view contests as a source of excitement and energy.
Pancero outlined four strategies to help managers attract and keep millennials on their respective sales teams.
• The first strategy is for companies to have more defined selling process tools.
“Remember,” he said, “millennials have grown up on a team with a coach. Selling is no longer an art. It has become ‘paint by numbers.’”
One jumping off point to show millennials how to “paint by numbers” is to teach the steps of a sales call. Indeed, as many managers and sales people are fuzzy on this subject, it is one of the most sought after areas of sales training.
“Teach your people the fundamentals of selling,” Pancero told the audience. “New sales people are demanding to understand how to sell, and we don’t know how to teach them. How do we teach the basic steps of a sales call? This includes personality and flexibility skills, time management skills in a territory — just the basics of how selling works. This is becoming such a hot topic because new employees are asking, ‘How do I do this? How does this work?’ It is important for managers to focus on ‘process training.’”
Pancero suggested a book titled Spin Selling, by Neil Rackam, as one of the best sources covering the basic steps of a sales call, using the acronym “SPIN,” Pancero said.
“S” is for “What is the Situation?;”
“P” is for “What Problems is that situation causing you?;”
“I” is “What are the Implications of those problems to your business?;” and,
“N” is “What do you Need, based on what we talked about?”
“The idea of these steps is to give sales people more in-depth structure in their questioning that will make them more persuasive in front of customers,” Pancero said. “So, if you don’t know where to go to learn the steps of a sales call, this book is a great starting point.”
• The second strategy is to become more involved as a coach and a leader.
“The people who are going to be a process coach should devote one-third of their time to coaching,” Pancero said. “One-third of the week needs to be spent on counseling, coaching, planning and working with sales people.
“It is not just going out with a sales person on a call to close a deal. That is the transactional side of business. I’m talking about ‘the coaching process.’ This is often the area where problems and disconnects occur. This is the ‘vapor lock’ at most distributorships.”
Indeed, Pancero said many times when he tells distributors they should spend one-third of their time counseling, coaching, planning and working with sales people, they will often say, “I don’t have time for that.”
“How many of your sales managers are also involved with purchasing or working with the service department?” Pancero asked. “This stems from the early days when a distributor’s business was growing and the company needed a lot of attention. Therefore, the distributor said, ‘Well, my sales manager is free, let’s give him or her more responsibility.’”
In this scenario, the distributor has loaded up the plates of the company’s sales leaders so that they cannot spend one-third of their time coaching and training, Pancero said.
“Do you have both the skills and the time to be a coach for your sales team?” Pancero asked. “This is a very common problem.”
He added that in today’s business world, it is vital to train on processes and structure in order to have consistency. Furthermore, as the economy turned and business became more competitive — including the influx of more nontraditional competitors — many distributors had problems because their sales people couldn’t keep up. They had become “order takers” and their selling relationships suffered.
In addition, Pancero said, younger buyers are different than their older counterparts.
“How many of your younger customers don’t want to go to lunch with your sales rep?” Pancero asked. “Today’s younger buyers just don’t want to do that anymore because they are not interested in a personal relationship. They don’t want a ‘best friend’ in their sales rep. Rather, they want someone who will help solve their problems and bring a team approach to solutions. This is the model of today.”
• The third strategy is to have more active coaching and training.
“There are companies that conduct a daily sales meeting and sales training,” Pancero said. “They are providing five hours of sales training per week. The problem is, there are people today who haven’t had five hours of sales training during the past five years.
“There are managers today who have a plan in place for the next two months, including what will be taught in every sales class. It is organized. The overall boss reviews the training process in advance that the manger is going to conduct. This is the millennial bond. The question is, what kind of training do you have in place?”
To reach millennials in the sales process, Pancero told how manufacturers could improve their relationships with distributors with the following “45-minute” sales presentation:
• The first 15 minutes, tell what is new and great about your (the manufacturer’s) company;
• The second 15 minutes, tell exactly how to sell your products against competitors that may be cheaper than you. Show how to sell value against the competition, and provide data to help; and,
• The third 15 minutes, give sales ideas that will help. When talking to sales people as a manufacturer supporting an account, share sales ideas of what is working. Bring some new ideas to the table.
“What would happen if you had a manufacturer rep come in that actually followed this sales model? Do you think he or she would have a positive impact on your sales team?” Pancero asked. “What happened was, Google messed up your life, because it used to be the only way buyers knew about your competitor was if the competitor also called on the same customer. Now, buyers know about every single competitor in the world, because they can search for them on the Internet. Furthermore, they can get more pricing information.
“As a result, buyers know the entire competitive landscape. They now want to know, ‘Tell me why you are different. Tell me why you are better. Tell me why this is going to help me, compared to the alternatives.
“Many manufacturers just have not given distributors that ammunition. I think it’s time to demand it from them. If they are going to take your time during a meeting, make it productive. It’s not about just a relationship and bragging about new things, it’s about telling how to properly sell the items at hand. However, I don’t see a lot of distributors taking advantage of this process.”
• The fourth strategy involves a process manager redefining key focus points.
“I still believe we should focus on numbers,” Pancero said.
He added it is important to talk about profitability. Where does a company currently stand compared to its quota?
“Tracking numbers is still critical,” he said. “The transactional side remains an important part of business, but the selling process is an additional issue and opportunity.”
Pancero outlined four basic levels of process coaching:
• No. 1 — “Look for a change in attitude. If you tell your people, ‘We are going to put a prospecting campaign in place,’ before the meeting is over, you should be able to measure how your people are reacting. Do you see a change in attitude?;
• No. 2 — “Once you have looked for a change in attitude, do you see a change in effort? Within a week of your new prospecting program, your people should be putting it in action. We don’t care about results at this point, we only care about action, seeing your people move into the direction and process that have been discussed;
• No. 3 — “After you see a change in attitude and a change in effort, look for a change in progress. Your people should be cranking out more proposals if they are actively prospecting. You should see new account numbers being entered. You should be seeing names of companies you have never heard of before. Even if no one has sold anything new yet, you should still be seeing progress; and,
• No. 4 — “The fourth level is the transactional level, where we see a change in results.
“How many managers have spent their careers primarily focusing on results? They only ask, ‘What are you going to sell? and, Who is it going to be?’
“The new philosophy of management is, ‘We are going to immediately ask for feedback to see if we have a change in attitude. Then, in a week, we are going to look for a change in effort.’ You don’t have to wait a couple of months to see if this is working. You can get immediate feedback. This is ‘process coaching.’”
Pancero used the game of football as an example. A manager might just say the goal is to, “Go out there and win.” In contrast, the “process coach” says, “The goal of football is to gain 10 yards. If we are successful, we get to do that again. If we score a touchdown, it’s part of our process.”
“If you have this mentality, then it’s something you can coach to. You can use process and structure to lead your people," Pancero said. "This is not to say you take the goal of winning off the table, but it’s just saying, 'this is how we are managing our goals through a change in attitude, effort and progress, which will then generate a change in results.'”
He added that a lot of younger employees understand the coaching process described above.
“Look how frustrating it would be if you were a process person (as are many millennials) and nobody was helping you process results,” Pancero said.
Contact: Phone: 952-913-8998.