With Generation Y continuing to expand its numbers in the sales force, employers and hiring managers alike are finding that these young professionals present some unique challenges. The camps are decidedly split on how business will be affected by this generation, which has earned a reputation for being difficult.
I believe that the challenges presented by Generation Y are offset by the fact that those of us in the "older" generations have much to learn from these tech-savvy twenty-somethings.
On the minus side, many Gen Y professionals tend to demand of employers, "What can you do for me?" rather than asking what they can do to prove themselves. One prospect even went so far as to tell me that they were seeking a new position because their responsibilities had increased but their pay had not. This was not a case of being assigned a sizable new sales district or being promoted to team leader. Rather, the Gen Y worker was given minor responsibilities on top of the existing workload.
It is also not uncommon for Gen Y recruits to become frustrated in the workforce because their expectations for immediate gratification are not being met. While this desire to see success is a positive attribute in any sales professional, when too much is expected too soon, the young salesperson's tendency is to perform less diligently than more seasoned Gen X and Baby Boom counterparts.
On the plus side, there is a lot to learn from this generation regarding the efficient use of technology for effective communication. Because of their natural gravitation toward the latest and greatest technology, members of Generation Y have embedded in them a desire to be fast and efficient. This is evident in their usage of and comfort with the instant nature of text, email and social networking - proficiencies from which all sales professionals can benefit.
My advice to anyone working with Generation Y sales professionals is to help them temper their expectations. Coach them to stay on course long enough to achieve the success they expect rather than job-hopping from impatience and frustration. Lead by example. Show them that by giving their all, they will eventually succeed.
True sales leaders will find that by mentoring this young generation and showing them that success requires dedication, everyone will benefit from the track record these young professionals are capable of building.