Leadership Development Tips to Spark Innovation in Your Millennial Salespeople (Forbes Articles)
How are you paying attention to the impact of the economic, market, and political disruption and chaos on the leadership development of your teams?
There are a host of unpredictable things to be wary of in our culture. However, I believe that the biggest pandemic many of us are facing, is the Fear Pandemic.
The Fear Pandemic?
As leaders, it can be easy to focus only on the business objectives. Dealing with the “negative” emotions and mindsets of your Millennial and Next-Gen leaders can be messy, time-consuming, and unpredictable. However, when you don’t do anything about it, it will be costly in the long run. As Brené Brown, author of Dare to Lead, says:
“Leaders must either invest a reasonable amount of time attending to fears and feelings or, squander an unreasonable amount of time trying to manage ineffective and unproductive behavior.”
What about your sales team? What negative behaviors are you seeing?
3 Leadership Development Articles from Forbes Coaches Council
One of my clients, Jackie, recently told me, “Danita, my Millennials and Next-Gen salespeople appear to be anxious and not reaching their targets. But I don’t have time for the ‘fluffy stuff!’ I need results!”
As I listened, I heard Brené’s words running through my head!
And, Jackie isn’t alone. I’m hearing from leaders, like yourself, that many Millennials and Next-Gen leaders are having difficulty coping with the constant turmoil.
- They fear that they won’t be able to repeat their pre-Covid sales success.
- Their clients are even more demanding, reluctant to invest in the future.
- Working from home is more difficult than they thought it would be.
I’m sure you’ve heard many other reasons why your salespeople are not reaching their sales growth goals. Some of their concerns may be valid, but they’re not productive.
So how do you fortify your team to fight the Fear Pandemic?
The Forbes Coaches Council published three of my articles, pre-pandemic. I believe these leadership principles are even more relevant in today’s topsy-turvy world. As you’re dealing with unproductive and destructive behaviors, you need to strengthen the confidence, courage, and stamina of everyone on your team. As a leader, you get to work with your teams to:
- Build Resilience – a character trait needed to gain confidence to get back up after tripping and falling.
- Develop Healthy Social Media Habits – a hope-filled, strengthening strategy for dealing productively with the fear-mongering of these crazy times.
- Tap Motivational Energy – action-oriented vision and values to strengthen their courage to keep going when it gets tough.
Check these articles out:
In the midst of disruption and chaos, leaders need to be proactive when coaching their teams. Coaching is key to building resilience in your salespeople. Resilient salespeople creatively overcome their latest challenge. This means they will need to rethink their options and resources from every angle. In this article, I discuss the power of a tiny word – might. It invites your sales leaders to imaginative thinking as they respond to the obstacles they encounter.
Researchers found a definite link between the amount of time spent using social media and the possibility of sinking into depression. The toxic conversations on social media today is a huge contributing factor to the rise in stress and anxiety in our young leaders. In this article, I talk about how you can coach them to develop healthy social media habits. These coaching strategies are especially successful when coupled with positive thinking. Their capacity to produce results and move forward is fueled. They will achieve and exceed their business targets – even when they face seemingly insurmountable challenges.
As a leader, you seek win-win scenarios so that everyone gets to the top. Where do you begin? Contrary to what many people believe, you can’t motivate your salespeople. “What? Are you serious?” I hear you say. Yes, I’m dead serious. Motivation comes from within. Your role is to set up a base camp that inspires your emerging sales leader to want to climb the mountain. In the midst of the Fear Pandemic, their mountain may be particularly steep. Anxiety may hamper their efforts to start the climb. With your guidance, they will build courage and gain confidence so that they can get to the top.
It might be tough for your future leaders to find direction and get going in these times. They need to be innovative to overcome new obstacles in their selling process. For that to happen, they will need your coaching and mentoring.
Boost Sales Growth Success with Innovation and Authentic Confidence
To spark an innovative mindset with the leaders I coach, I always suggest they ask this one important question…
“What might I do to make a positive impact?”
In this article, we focus on the word “might.” This tiny word packs a mighty punch. It invites innovation and creative thinking – skills your future leaders need to thrive in any situation. With each successful attempt to overcome a sales challenge, they build authentic confidence.
Some insist that this generation is confident enough, and we don’t have to address this topic with them. I question whether this is true. Authentic confidence is a belief in oneself that emanates from the school of hard knocks. Yes, all leaders grapple with their self-assuredness when it is rattled and tested, as I’ve mentioned in this Forbes article, Is Social Media Impacting the Business Results of Your Millennials?
However, those whose confidence stems from a solid foundation will become stronger in the crucible and become even more confident over time.
How are your salespeople responding to the current climate of fear, anxiety, and disruption? Is their confidence based on reality, and able to withstand the shaking of their core values?
Harness the Power of “Might” for Improved Sales Growth
As I’m reflecting on Jackie’s comment, I recalled another conversation…
Ron’s story was included in Millennials Matter, in the second section, Leading with Confidence. It illustrates how an innovative mindset can turn a stuck sales team around to achieve success. Here’s an extract from Ron’s story, that is also applicable to Jackie and other leaders who are dealing with the Fear Pandemic…
“I need help,” said the discouraged voice over the phone. “We’ve invested in new robotics equipment to improve our efficiencies. We have significantly enhanced our capabilities. But we need sales—now. Can you help me shift the sales team into high gear?”
As we talked further, Ron, the president of a mid-sized precision manufacturing company, also admitted that margins were shrinking on even their best accounts. However, his most pressing concern was that they were stuck, having zero success in cracking new accounts and tapping markets.
What was the root cause of Ron’s stalled sales growth? We conducted a sales audit. We scrutinized their sales strategies, systems, processes, and people.
It quickly became clear that Ron and his team needed an innovative mindset to turn their performance around.
Ron became a catalyst for his salespeople. In this Forbes article, How Executives Can Inspire A Culture That Motivates Millennial Sales Leaders we discuss the importance of creating a climate that motivates your salespeople to want to overcome the obstacles that sabotage their success.
Ron used his coaching sessions, to ask the salespeople to craft three to four possible solutions to a current problem they have. Then they worked on exploring the probable consequences and ramifications of each of those solutions.
Ron and his team discovered the power of “might.” Might is a powerful word. It invites possibilities, options, and new connections. An article in the Harvard Business Review, “The Secret Phrase Top Innovators Use,” confirms the impact of this word. “The ‘how might we’ approach to inspire innovation, ensures that would-be innovators are asking the right questions.”
When Ron’s team feels stuck, they ask the catalyst question: “What might I do to make a positive impact?”
Follow Ron’s example and model an innovative mindset to your salespeople. Use the power of might to build confidence in your team. That’s how we help them face their fears and deal with the crazy culture we’re in today.
Build Resilience to Overcome Sales Growth Obstacles
Ron’s dilemma reminded me of a quote from one of my all-time favorite mentors, Zig Ziglar.
It’s not the situation, but whether we react negative or respond positive to the situation, that is important. ~ Zig Ziglar
During our second coaching session with Ron, we talked about strengthening the team’s Sisu Spirit, which I referred to in this Forbes article, Two Secrets to Building Resilience in Millennial Leaders to Achieve Sales Results
If you have Finnish ancestry like me, chances are you have heard the word sisu. It is a five-hundred-year-old Finnish word packed with meaning. In short, it means an unconditional commitment to pursue one’s goals, regardless of the obstacles. Sisu is not just a word, but a way of life. I am passionate about strengthening it in sales leaders.
Ron was excited to learn about Sisu. He decided to stop focusing on their problems and start building the Sisu spirit in his team. Why is this important?
How to Manage Millennials
When leaders lack resilience, it’s a red flag. These salespeople will…
- allow their emotions of fear and discomfort to rule. They stop doing what they know they should be doing to crack a new account or tackle new markets.
- avoid taking risks. They are afraid to reach out to the correct decision maker, in case they get rejected. They don’t ask penetrating business-appropriate questions that will get them the sale.
These unproductive behaviors will lead to poor results. With each failure, their confidence will take a knock. Ron discovered that mental toughness is built one battle at a time. He achieved great sales growth results by inspiring his team to do the following:
- step out of their comfort zones;
- stretch their mental reserves and preconceived resources;
- push through their mental, emotional, and physical barriers; and,
- strive to gain the competitive edge in any endeavor.
A key to fostering sisu in your up-and-coming leader is you, the experienced business leader. I encourage you to come alongside them. Share your wisdom, insight, and discernment. They will develop the resilience that’s needed for flourishing in their professional and personal lives. Their confidence will soar as they overcome their fears.
What is your role as a seasoned business leader? How might you guide your Millennials to fight the Fear Pandemic?
Leadership Development Matters in Difficult Times
Are you feeling like Jackie, not wanting to deal with the “fluffy stuff?” Or as you like Ron, seeing your young team members struggling and searching for guidance to help them.
Yes, these are uncertain times. There are many valid reasons to feel anxious and fearful. That’s why your leadership matters greatly! Your coaching will make a huge difference in how your sales leaders respond to the Fear Pandemic. Grab this opportunity to build resilient salespeople so that you strengthen authentic confidence in your sales team. Coach them how to harness the power of “might” so that they can innovate in every difficult situation. That’s how they will not only survive, but thrive.
Leadership Development Lesson: Use the power of “might” to strengthen an innovative mindset in your future leaders.
Leadership Development Question: What might you do to inspire your Millennial sales team to develop authentic confidence that will strengthen their sales performance?