Managing sales teams in the era of #winning

Posted by James Pember on 4/4/16 8:50 AM

An MTV survey from 2011 noted that 60% of surveyed millennials thought that “#winning was the slogan of their generation. This statistic, whilst somewhat amusing is however highly relevant for sales leaders whose teams are increasingly made up for younger, millennial salespeople.

I’ve said it a thousand times, however I’ll say it again. As a sales leader, if you are managing more and more millennial salespeople, you must re-think your strategies for motivating and managing your team.

What is #winning anyway?

Behavioural psychologists describe what is happening to the motivations of the millennial generation as a sort of “perfect storm”. A childhood spent playing video games, the rise of social media and the “participation trophy” parenting phenomenon combined have all contributed to the rise of a generation of people who are very different to generations that came before them.

Go take a look at social media. Why are people always taking photos of themselves at the gym, sweaty after a tough workout?  Why are people taking selfies at their desk late on a Friday night, when everyone else is out at the bar?

The use of #winning, #fitspo, #inspiration and the “flexed bicep” 💪 emoji is rife on millennial social media. Why?

As a generation, the millennials are obsessed with self improvement, with winning and most importantly, with making sure everyone knows about it.

Studies have shown that “likes” on social media clearly tap into the “reward” centre of the brain, and we crave the same rewards at work, as we get online with our friends.

It’s easy to sit back and criticise this “constant need for recognition”, but the smartest sales leaders are using this to their advantage, building highly engaging environments that lead to significantly improved sales performance.

What should I be doing as a sales leader?

If there’s one element of coaching that will lead to a 100% failure rate with millennials - it is the annual performance review. When coaching millennials, you need to give feedback and “status updates” weekly, if not daily.

They’re not looking for constant praise, but rather they want to “keep score” on how they’re doing in all aspects of their career. “[They] never want to have a surprise” comments Jeff Lawson, CEO at Twilio.

Where does this desire for constant feedback come from? According to Jacquelyn Smith over at Business Insider, “Millennials grew up with the Internet, which offers instant gratification and quick feedback, and they expect that in other aspects of their lives”.

How to promote a culture of fast, continuous feedback and recognition

A study by Xcactly in 2014 reported that 94,5% of sales leaders feel that their ability to provide accurate and timely performance updates to their teams is only adequate, or worse, needs improvement.

In addition, training and development needs to bought into the modern world too. Watch this video below of Lou Schachter of BTS describing how the role of sales management is changing and what sales leaders need to do in 2016 to drive high performance teams. 



Thankfully, there are now a myriad of tools and solutions to help you deliver data in real time which helps you more quickly give feedback, react to sales results and ultimately drive more recognition and transparency in your team.


It’s clear: continuous feedback and recognition are table stakes today when it comes to running a high performance sales organisation.

If you don't have a culture of continuous feedback, you should be thinking about how you can move closer towards one. Real time sales data, leaderboards and sales competitions are just three ways to get closer to the kind of coaching you need to perform today.

Topics: sales management, how to motivate sales team, sales motivation, motivating salespeople, sales gamification, sales coaching, gamification

What is Sparta?

Sparta is an end-to-end sales performance solution that helps you coach, train and drive your team into higher performance.

Create sales competitions, set collabarative team targets and inspire your team to crush their goals! 

Click here to request a demo today.

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