header 4 Generations in Your Sales Team

4 Generations in Your Sales Team

How do you manage Baby Boomers and Generations X, Y, and Z?

The composition of the population is changing. New generations are entering the workforce. For the first time, many companies are working with as many as 4 generations simultaneously in sales. Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y, and Z each grew up in a completely different era and with different values and sense of reality. In your sales team, they all come together. How do you manage them, and what can you expect from each generation?

Expectations per generation in your sales team

Through the generations, needs in terms of work shift. We name a few examples: Baby Boomers and Generation X are willing to travel for work (commuting, going to appointments), and value having their own desk. Generation Z, on the other hand, prefers to live within cycling distance of work and does not want to be tied to a desk. They seek an inspiring and open place to work and want to have access to all the data they need for their job from there. While Baby Boomers value working hours between 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM, the new generations want to be more flexible. Output is more important for the younger generations than being confined to certain times of the day. Generation Y and Z do not do obligations (working because the boss says so) and do not care about hierarchy and titles, but all the more about shared desires, connectedness, and performing together.

The characteristics of each generation

At the risk of generalizing, we list a number of characteristics per generation:

  • Baby Boomers (born 1945-1960) are experienced, loyal employees, accustomed to good working conditions. They are often vital and resilient. A misconception is that they are slow and unable to change.
  • Generation X (born 1961-1980) is driven and goal-oriented. The work-life balance is important. They are good at putting things into perspective, reflecting, giving and receiving feedback. A misconception is that they are not digitally savvy.
  • Generation Y (also known as millennials, born 1980-1995) seeks fulfillment, development, input, and clear expectations. They are optimistic, entrepreneurial, and flexible. A misconception is that they are spoiled or impatient and have difficulty with authority.
  • Generation Z (born 1995-2010) seeks variety in content and workplace, but financial stability. They are digitally skilled, multitasking, and eager to learn. A misconception is that they have concentration problems.

Combine the strengths of generations in your sales team

Each generation has its own characteristics, needs, and barriers. The strength lies in the combination of generations in a team so that you can utilize everyone's strong points. Therefore, actively encourage knowledge exchange between different generations. This can be done ‘on the job’ and in mutual coaching trajectories.

Leading Generation Z (the millennials) in your sales team

Although Generation Z is entering, many sales managers are currently still looking for handles for managing Generation Z, the millennials. Some tips:

1. Focus on social relevance. Millennials value an employer where they can express themselves, where they matter as people. What your company does, its social contribution, and the opportunities millennials get are important considerations. Play into that.

2. Involve them in decision-making. Millennials are used to being involved in decisions. In their family, many decisions were made democratically. In high school, they had to evaluate their teachers, and in elementary school, they were already allowed to discuss playground rules. They expect this level of input from you as a sales manager or director.

3. Cherish digital skills. If there is one thing that sets Generation Z apart from all previous generations, it is the use of digital media. Communication is faster and more frequent than ever before. As a sales manager, you may have no idea what millennials do online. Let go of that and take advantage of their skills. They want nothing more than to use their skills for you. Not only are they handy with smartphones, but they are also in contact with many people through them. When they have questions or problems, they are used to engaging their network. Take advantage of that.

Tools for a modern sales organization

Sales Improvement Group helps companies improve results by optimizing sales organizations and training people. We tailor the optimizations and training to your organization and sales team. So also to the generations in the team.

We share our experiences through blogs and whitepapers. If you want more tools to prepare for the future of sales, read the whitepaper ‘Trends & Modern Selling’