Survey Says Millennials in Sales Force Misunderstood

A recent survey found a significant perception gap between employers and Millennial (born between 1978 and 2000) sales-force employees.

According to the survey by Sibson Consulting, whereas 92% of employers with large corporate sales forces around the country said that attainment of sales goals by Millennials was just as good or better than by non-Millennials, only 79% of Millennials thought their sales performance was as good or better than the others. Further, 47% of employers report Millennials are below average, but only 15% of Millennials say they are below average in willingness to put in long hours.

Sixty-three percent of employers believe turnover is the same for Millennials and non-Millennials, but nearly 80% of Millennials indicated turnover in their generation is higher than in the rest of their sales forces. Almost half of employers and nearly 90% of Millennials said Millennials are more likely to leave their companies than other generations, with ambition the top reason cited by Millennials, and lack of advancement opportunities and no loyalty most often cited by employers.

The press release says those in this generation “are not generally needy and unfocused” and that Millennials:

  • are more productive and work more efficiently than initially perceived by employers
  • are highly motivated and strive for success
  • are very goal-oriented and ever-critical of their own performance
  • are interested in a career in sales
  • strive in an environment where team goals are infused with individual performance linkages
  • achieve sales performance equal to or greater than that of other generations.

Communication is another area of disconnect between Millennials and their employers. Customized, digital communication is important to Millennials, but a large majority of employers report doing nothing new to reach Millennials for recruitment or in their communication with presently employed Millennials. For example, one tool that Millennials all use is text messaging, Sibson contends, but relatively few employers reported they are texting with their employees.

The Sibson Consulting survey, conducted in spring 2009, was of 57 major U.S. companies and 80 Millennial professionals who work in both sales and non-sales roles. A report of the survey results is here.