Give a purpose. Show the purpose. Sell the value.

Posted On December 1, 2015

Many millennials view the workplace differently than their fathers and mothers did. They want their jobs to be fun and fulfilling. They want to work for a company and in a profession that they can believe in.

And, according to a recent Forbes article, many business leaders find their millennial hires don’t want to do sales. Of course, these things may be related.

We can perhaps excuse Baby Boomer and Gen-X managers who think those millennials should perhaps feel fortunate that they have a job at all.

But that’s no way to retain employees. And a report from the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School estimates that nearly half the workforce will be comprised of millennials by 2020.

Forbes contributor Bill Conerly believes that the idealism of millennials can be an asset to managers rather than a drawback – even in sales jobs.

Managers shouldn’t be looking for someone who can sell ice to Eskimos, Conerly argues, but enthusiastic salespeople who believe in the product and its benefit to customers. And their sales training should focus on making sure those benefits are evident.

Widgets must serve a purpose in people’s lives or no one would buy them. Same goes for refrigerators, or automobile tires or insurance.

Emphasizing the opportunities within sales to help people and to solve problems can turn a job that millennials might find dreary into something they can sink their teeth into.

It can even be – wait for it – fun.

While millennials get what is in many cases an undeserved bad rap for not wanting to work, managers can energize them by helping them see that their jobs can be fun.

That doesn’t mean hanging streamers in the office, bringing cake and playing Pin the Tail on the Intern. It doesn’t even have to mean creating the kind of uber-trendy open-plan office space, with its standing desks and exposed brick, designed to appeal to a younger workforce.

It means giving them a purpose, and showing them that the purpose is worthwhile. Even if it’s selling widgets.

Categories: Generation Y / Millennials, Workplace