How must you motivate your millennial salesforce?

13th Jul 2014

The new generation of salespeople have very different ideas to their predecessors about workplace motivations.

Xactly recently commissioned a study to investigate staff incentives and how they enhance performance. The results, which were gathered from over 600 organisations across Britain, exposed some clear differences in how 25-34 year-olds are most effectively rewarded in comparison to older age groups.

Almost half (46%) of millennials get a kick out of competing directly with their peers, while only 21% of older generations feel the same way. For 16% of the younger group, achieving personal targets takes precedence over customers’ interests, while just 3% of over 55s have the same attitude.

Interestingly, the report also reveals differences between age groups in terms of why they went into sales in the first place. Millennials, it seems, are seeking status, with 16% citing this as the reason for selecting a career in sales. That’s over five times more than the older groups, of which only 3% reported the same motivations. The most popular reason for choosing to go into sales for the 55-and-overs was the fact that it suited their skill set and personality - this was the logic behind 29% of their decisions. Only half as many millennials had the same motivations, however.   

Christopher Cabrera – founder and CEO of Xactly – commented on the findings, pointing out how important it is for employers to recognise the different motivations of their varied workforces. “The research illustrates what we constantly see in sales – young starters coming in ready to gain status and make a name for themselves. As they get older, salespeople focus on finding roles that cater to their increasingly refined skill sets and take pride in doing their job better than others.”

He continued: “Once you have these insights into how different generations engage in sales roles, you have the ability to recruit the best people and know how to motivate and reward them in the most effective way possible.”

Meanwhile, Tom Castley, Xactly’s general manager EMEA, expressed the need for businesses to cater for their young, tech-savvy team members. “With up to 40% of the workforce expected to retire in the next five to ten years, workplaces across the UK will continue to be shaped by millennials – and as the research shows, what motivates them is different to previous generations. Today’s business leaders need to recognise how to blend millennials’ tech-immersed lifestyle seamlessly into the workplace to inspire performance. This needs to cover everything from recruiting through to retirement. Understanding this will be key to creating an engaged and motivated workforce.”

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