Gone are the days when the mentality that working 70 hours a week was the only way to get ahead.
Today’s generation (aka Millennials) thinks a little bit differently than Boomers and Gen x-ers. And if you want to ensure your millennial BDR reps develop a fierce loyalty to your organization and make great contributions to the pipeline, you’re going to have to adapt.
In my experience, four key factors will directly impact the way your millennial team performs: hiring, environment, growth, and relevance.
First, let’s discuss hiring. Specifically, knowing the kind of rep you want, where to find them, and what to do when you do.
Choose Your Method
Think you’re ready to hire for that open BDR position? Consider this: there are two largely followed methods when hiring young BDRs: hire fast and fire faster or be selective and nurture.
Before you even start interviewing, you must make a decision on which method you would like to follow.
The first method, also known as the churn and burn model, goes a little like this: hire anyone that comes through the door and fire them in 3 months if they don’t fit your needs.
For some millennials, this type of environment (and the landing of their first “real” job) will be the first time they are in a situation where there is no one there to rescue them when they don’t succeed. This will lead to an overall uneasy work environment for them and ensures your team will crumble under pressure.
Since prospecting requires reps to be confident, allowing them to stay in control of a conversation with a prospect, second-guessing themselves due to prior reprimanding will cause them to miss meetings and essential information. Why? Because they spent the whole call worried about their job, not about the information the prospect was giving them.
The latter option, select your rep carefully and then nurture them, creates an environment that not only builds confidence in the BDR rep, it creates confidence in the team as a whole.
Millennials (and most people for that matter) need to feel valued. They want to be trusted to do the right thing. This method allows them to develop the mentality they need to become successful; the mentality that allows you, the manager, to have full confidence that your team is pushing on without the need of you micro-managing.
You can guess which camp I’m in.
Searching for the Right Rep
While finding the right millennial rep can be time-consuming, if you do it right, it will be worth it.
Regardless of background and experience, I look for reps that have life goals and play well with others… all while trying to beat them to their goals.
But, like all things, finding the right person for the job is a lot more complex than just looking for someone who has goals and is sociable.
These are the other characteristics I look for in potential sales reps:
Several years ago, I needed to adjust the coverage on a newly acquired team of mine to accommodate a 24/7 global coverage model.
I was met with the following response from a young millennial on the team, “My contract says my work hours are from 9-5”.
Contract. Contract? Did he just say contract?! Needless to say, my jaw hit the floor.
When I started my career on Rackspace’s lead generation team many years ago, we all worked as many hours as it took to be successful. If we were asked to work the 4 pm to midnight shift (which we each did one week out of the month), we did it. Why? Because we refused to fail (and because there were thousands of others ready to take our spots should we decide we were better than working beyond our “contract” hours).
Anyone I hire on any of my teams must want to succeed so much that they are willing to do the same, hating failure as much as we all hated Joaquin Phoenix in the movie the Gladiator.
Members of a Switchboad trained/ run inside sales team receive balloons as soon as they achieve their monthly targets. These balloons not only symbolize who has achieved greatness, they also provide a positive competitive outlet between coworkers. Even though it is just a balloon, for me to hire you, you have to want it. If you don’t care whether you are first to get said balloon, you are not the right fit.
Almost every prospecting call requires you to pivot quickly in order to find the blood. If a prospect says they are all set, you need to be able to quickly come up with one question that makes them say ah ha.
Calling all outside the box thinkers.
Collaboration is a crucial skill for a BDR. Outbounding is one of the hardest jobs these reps will ever have and as they all grow and become leaders, the bonds generated between reps they made while prospecting will give them lifelong ears to bounce ideas off.
When collaborating, look for respect between the individuals on the team. One of my 3 BDR golden rules is that, on my team, there is no disrespectful behavior. These reps will spend 8-11 hours a day with other, five days a week. With the competitive nature of BDRs, sarcastic jokes will arise and quite honestly, sometimes tensions will run hot.
Jokes and sarcasm are ok as long as they are all in good fun and contain 0% disrespect.
But respect goes beyond being friendly with each other. I want to know that if a rep is at their individual quota, they are going to do everything it takes to help their coworker achieve their target… and that they won’t be satisfied until every member of their team achieves success.
When it all comes down to it, will they raise up their coworkers or put them down?
Find the candidates… and What to Do When You Do
I have found huge success posting on LinkedIn and Indeed, but if you build the right type of team, employee referrals will start flowing in like leads from a stellar inbound strategy.
Once the resumes start coming in, tell HR to back off. Don’t get me wrong, I love the HR department, I would just rather review the resumes myself. HR reps are not sales reps. They have never been in the “trenches”. In order to find the right match for the sales team, sales leaders need to take ownership of the entire hiring process. Don’t think it’s important? Consider this: I have personally seen successful BDR’s who came from a resume that HR passed on.
Don’t limit who you hire. Hidden gems are out there.
The Phone Call
Once you’ve taken a look at all the resumes, make a 5-minute phone call to every resume without grammatical errors. 60% of a BDRs day at the office is spent on the phone. How they represent themselves and respond to my simple questions on a 5-minute call will tell you a lot about how they will do as a rep. It also will help you whittle down who is invited to come in and meet with the sales team for an on-site interview.
During my five minute call, I ask the following questions.
1. When is a lead dead?
2. What should the hardest part of outbound prospecting be?
3. Tell me a time you turned a no into a yes? (This can be on a professional or personal level)
Before you read on, how would you answer the first 2 questions?
Here are my answers:
1. A lead is never dead
2. Getting the person on the phone
That said, if I don’t get those answers, it doesn’t mean I say goodbye forever. In fact, I use it as a quick coaching moment and depending on their response to my coaching, I choose to bring them in or not. Part of the job of a sales leader is to ensure their BDRs become successful sales reps. If they don’t respond well to coaching, that’s a huge red flag.
As for the third question, their answer tells me if they have the ability to get their way and how fast they think on their feet.
The Onsite Interview
First thing’s first. If a candidate is late or if they are not dressed in a suit, I ask them to leave. This sounds harsh, I understand, but this is a very important part in the finding-the-right-millennial process. There will be times when BDR’s will be asked to come in early for meetings or will be invited to client on sites. If they can’t make it to an interview on time, and/or don’t dress professionally, how can I trust that they will show up on time or dress appropriately for those future moments?
Since you will be interviewing a high quantity of candidates, limit the interview to 20-minutes. Start the 20 minutes by asking the same three questions you asked on the phone interview. This gives you an idea of the candidate’s listening skills- and listening is a huge strength. To become a successful rep, they must be able to find the blood within a prospect by listening.
Next, you’ll want to have a conversation with the candidate. You can learn a lot about this millennial candidate by having a conversation with them about their past accomplishments and experience. During the conversation (even if it is just about their college experience) pay attention to the following:
– Are they relatable?
– Are they matching your style?
– Are they asking questions?
Looking for these characteristics allows you to gauge whether they can take a prospect down a journey and lead them where they want.
If they have the primary skills possessed to become a great rep (notice how I did not say a “good” rep or a “mediocre” rep), I have them meet with a few members of the team, either 1 on 1 or in a group setting.
There are multiple reasons why this is part of the process. First, it allows the team to assess if they can work with the individual on a personal level. Second, millennials need to feel like their opinion matters. And in a world in which young employees want to get promoted very quickly, this shows them that their opinion matters.
In a nutshell, when hiring the right BDR, take the bull by the horns (as they say in my home state of Texas), look for someone who is collaborative and creative with life goals and a passion for winning, invite your current reps to take part in the interview process, and understand that doing it right the first time will pay dividends later.
Young, eager, and ready to conquer the world (and then lead it after 3 months), Millennials will one day be the fabric of corporations. If they are going to rule the world one day, we need to make it our job as sales leaders to ensure we help get them there or at the very least, set them up to be successful.