Lesson 6: Build a Better Business With Gen-Z
Last week, I caught up with a few sales leaders here in the Los Angeles area. As I sat down with a beer and got the conversation started, one of them uttered a phrase that just strikes me as lazy and ill-informed.
He said, “It’s so tough to coach these young kids because they are all SO entitled!”
I want to address not just this particular statement, but also this WHOLE idea. To begin, grouping a whole generation of salespeople (or just people) together using one adjective is not just insulting, but it’s just downright lazy.
As sales leaders, our jobs are to help people grow and succeed as salespeople AND people. Gen-Z’ers are the newest generation that we have to hire, so we need to work well with them. Try building a business without them. Go ahead.
Instead, I’m going to offer a different take on what’s going on in our sales industry today, and tie it directly to the amazing generation of Gen-Z’ers we can work with.
Gen Z-er’s Aren’t Entitled – They Have Options
When I came out of school in 2003, the idea of being an entrepreneur or (gasp!) an ONLINE entrepreneur, was nearly unheard of. Facebook was still 3-4 months away from being launched, and MySpace was 6 months old.
Today, people have so many choices with online entrepreneurship and freelancing becoming increasingly popular. New software tools in the market mean that creating your own t-shirt line, shoes, jewelry or even chatbot comes with a low-cost barrier to entry.
Software companies are popping up everyday, and they are looking for young, hungry salespeople to helm their SDR team, close their deals, hunt for new business, or do growth-hacking. Today, I got coffee with someone nearly half my age, and she blew my mind with her knowledge.
Entitled? Nah. Smart as hell? Yep.
More choices, especially those without a traditional boss, means that it’s on us as sales leaders to differentiate our business opportunities. It can’t just be about money anymore.
In order to attract young, hungry people who want to work hard and crush it for you, you have to be mission-driven, make a social impact, and be focused on their personal growth.
At PatientPop, we have a mission to help practices thrive, have a robust volunteering commitment, and we’ve put together a leadership team that ACTUALLY cares about the Gen-Z’ers we hire.
We strive not only to give them professional growth, but I want them to personally grow with us…together.
Young People Aren’t Entitled – Your Management Style Is
Now that people have more options, they have less time for your “My way or the highway” micro-managed, old-school style of management.
As sales leaders, we’ve become SO used to being able to sit younger folks down, tell them how lucky they are to be making any money (“When I was your age…”), give them a script and command that they crush dials on the phone. Then when they demand meaning, growth, time…some sales leaders go home and whine about it, or cry about it to their sales leadership peers over a beer.
Sounds a lot like….entitlement?
Listen, I get it. It’s important that people make phone calls, schedule demos, close deals or hit whatever metric means your business becomes more successful. You can’t do it the old-school way anymore. It doesn’t matter how hard you try. It won’t work.
It’s Not Entitlement – It’s Proper Expectations
I can walk into any software or technology business, head over to their sales or CS department, and I guarantee I’ll hear, “We need to set proper expectations” at some point during the day.
Why do we have laser-focus on expectations for our customers, but not our young employees?
Here are eight things you can do to help ensure you’re successful with your Gen-Z new hires:
1. Only hire people who believe in your mission
2. Make your mission the focal point of each role in the company
3. Have v1 of a simple career path that you can share with each new hire. (I missed this early on and it hurt – bad)
4. Walk them through that career path, and let them know EXACTLY how to get there.
5. Spend at LEAST one hour per week on personal growth
6. Give them responsibility before they’ve earned it. Step back and let them surprise you.
7. Always have a “why” behind any changes you make to their role, responsibilities, compensation, etc.
8. Encourage social impact as a team through volunteering or spending time together in the community as a team.
This post isn’t intended to convince you that there are no entitled young folks out there roaming around. There are entitled individuals in every generation.
The newest generations are just very different, and I think that’s a good thing. When you follow the eight steps I listed above, you give yourself a much better chance of succeeding with these awesome folks.
Check out this new video where I feature some of our rock-star young sales men and women. I love hearing them talk about how they feel working with us.
What would your youngest employees say about you?