The Strategic Sell: What To Expect When Hiring Millennials

When it comes to attracting and retaining the Millennial workforce, jan/san distribution has been challenged. Why? Because we all know that to those born between 1981 and 2000, a career selling products for cleaning, packaging, foodservice, etc., is not considered glamorous.

Hiring managers and those recruiting sales associates can change the conversation by fostering this generation’s career development options. Start immediately during the hiring process by focusing on the enjoyable aspects of the job. Don’t ask, “Do you think you can sell janitorial supplies or toilet paper or bowl cleaner?” Instead, lead with, “Do you enjoy the challenge and reward of helping people solve problems?” Millennials want to be empowered to make a difference in their companies and to their customers. Flexibility that enables a balanced lifestyle is also a huge consideration for them. So is having current technology for both themselves and their customers.

Unfortunately, many of today’s workplaces are too thin at the top to manage this generation in the manner in which they prefer. Millennials were raised in an era of instant gratification. They need more feedback but fewer constraints. Communication needs to be concise, consistent and transparent. Not just, “You’re doing a great job”… but “you really grasped and rephrased their current challenges nicely at the XYZ company presentation.”

Here’s an interesting statistic: 25 percent of Millennials want to socialize with their boss at least once a month. It is also well proven that retention escalates significantly when a new hire attends a company social event within the first three months of their start date. Consider strategically scheduling quarterly company after hours events such as baseball games, cookouts, holiday parties and trade show social activities — and compliment that schedule with one-on-one lunches or dinners to keep new associates engaged.

Ongoing training for all employees is important, but young sales associates need to feel “invested in” with training, mentoring and empowerment. Projects that align the new team members with executive mentors are a great way to get new perspectives on company initiatives while also reinforcing that you value the new member’s input. There are many of tech-savvy industry training tools that can augment mentoring from company leaders and vendors while also being engaging. Remember, these tech tools must be mobile. If they are also social, real-time and fun … then you’ve hit the jackpot.

One last aspect that can be quite impactful in retaining young people is immediate involvement in relevant, local and regional trade organizations such as ISSA, BOMA, BSCAI, IFMA, IEHA and AHE. With regular meetings and social events, this involvement hits on a lot of the things Millennials want out of a fulfilling career. They can make an impact, socialize, learn and feel invested in, all at the same time. Not to mention that networking within the industry can create relationships with prospects who turn into customers.

Tina Serio Saunders, I.C.E., MBA, is president of SonicTrain, LLC, creators of The Arena gamification platform, owner of xSell360 Consulting, and strategic innovation leader at Nichols. She is an industry leader in marketing technologies and has led development on numerous sales tools. She provides training, strategic management consulting and marketing implementation around the country. Her insight comes from over 17 years industry management experience. You may contact her at 419-297-0822 or