Struggling to hire millennials?

Written by: James White

I was speaking with the HR Director of a large company last week and we were discussing the problems faced when recruiting for sales positions.

They had been looking to recruit a team of sales executives for the last six months but were really frustrated with the recruitment process.

  • They spent way too much time answering specific questions to very picky candidates, many of whom ended up pulling out of the process or rejecting the offer.
  • They were advertising roles at a higher base pay than competitors, yet the number of applicants were still low.
  • The CVs landing in their inbox were of a low quality. Spelling mistakes, bad formatting, incorrect grammar and no mention of the desire to work in sales.

It was causing a huge headache for them and they weren’t sure what to do.

During our time together, we reflected on our sales leaders of tomorrow:

Millennials…Those aged between 25 and 40.

What do they really look for in a sales role?

How have things changed in the last 10-15 years?

It’s a discussion we believe many companies are currently having and until we really understand this generation and stop living in la la land thinking people looking for jobs twenty years ago want the same things as those looking for a job today, we will struggle to build thriving companies driven by high-performing teams.

Here are 8 things millennials want to know when applying for a sales role

1) Your purpose and vision

Millennials often ask these questions:

Other than financial goals and objectives, what is your purpose and how are you making a difference to the world?

Do I respect and feel inspired by the CEO and leaders when they communicate their vision?

Most companies recognise the importance of having a vision but it means nothing if it’s simply sitting on a website looking pretty.

You can usually feel how important the vision is to the company when you visit them and speak to members of the team.

2) Your approach to selling

There’s nothing worse than walking into a sales environment and feeling like you’ve gone back in time to the boiler room.

Service based sales in this modern day is all about problem solving and building relationships and yet so many companies still run sales teams with antiquated sales methods.

There’s no wonder why candidates probe into a companies approach to selling and ask questions like:

Will I be required to cold call the hell out of everyone and anyone and use cheap sales persuasion tactics?

Will I be surrounded by “boiler room” type salespersons?

Will my targets be based on the quality conversations I am having as well as the number of dials?

3) The sales process

One of the first things we work on (after laying some key foundations), is what the sales process looks like for the company. How are you going to fill the sales funnel with marketing and outbound activities and what does the prospect journey look like from beginning to end.

We often see companies hire salespeople and hope that they will be able to figure it out.

But hope isn’t a strategy and we recommend you work this out, test and measure it before you recruit a team.

The best companies have positive answers to all these questions:

Will I be able to follow a process or will I be left to my own devices?
Are there email templates and frameworks in place to follow?
Are leads evenly distributed or will I be calling the same people as my colleagues?
Where will I be sitting? Alone? With high-performers?

4) Sense of belonging

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, high belonging was linked to a whopping 56% increase in job performance, a 50% drop in turnover risk, and a 75% reduction in sick days.

The wellbeing of your team should always come first and it’s imperative you’re able to answer these questions with pride and confidence:

Will I be accepted and valued as a member of this workplace?
How comfortable will I be in my own skin here?
How much effort will the leaders and peers make to really get to know me?

5) Personal Development

Millennials have grown up with opportunities to learn and grow with a click of a button and they expect their workplace to understand, invest, encourage and support them on their self development journey.

The more you invest in this, the more likely you’ll build a team of loyal staff.

Online courses
Gym memberships
Meditation sessions
Supporting them with hobbies outside of work

6) Flexible working

Flexible working is here to stay! And the sooner you embed a structure that supports this, the better.

Staff should feel motivated and driven to show up for the company and perform well. They shouldn’t need to be clock-watched.

Trust is the foundation of any great relationship and by forcing them to check in and out of work everyday, you’re sending a message that you need to keep an eye on them.

Figure out the best way of working for them to produce optimum results. Let’s move away from the school culture.

7) Feedback

If you want to hire a high-calibre candidate, you can be sure they will be wondering the following:

How often will I have an opportunity to get feedback from my leader so I can continually develop my skills?

How will feedback be communicated?

How will I be supported to improve my performance and develop my skills based on the feedback received?


8) Leadership

What does it take to be successful as a leader in today’s world?
– It’s important to think outside the box
– To support and dedicate time in a 121 basis
– To have empathy as well as respect
– To be able to walk the walk and not just talk the talk
– To have an exceptionally high level of emotional intelligence

Are you looking for a salesperson to join your team?

A driven millennial who may not have a wealth of experience in sales but has the right behavioural traits, shares the same values, displays the right level of energy and wants to learn and grow.

Someone who won’t need much hand holding and with the right training will achieve great sales results.

Guess what…

You’re not the only one.

In fact, the demand and competition to recruit young, bright sales people has never been greater- especially in today’s climate.

And whilst pay incentives to hook them in has risen over the years (according to Total Jobs, the average graduate sales position for Central London 2022 is £25-36k basic), fewer people want to go into sales.

So how are you going to attract the right people for your business? And considering millennials are known as the “job-hopping” generation, how are you going to retain them?

We hope the findings we’ve summarised in this blog which stems from time spent researching and speaking to HR Directors will support your sales recruitment journey.

Good luck!

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Publish date: 12 September 2022

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