The sales profession is changing, and unfortunately, it’s graying. Statistics show that the average age of a professional salesperson now is 47.1 years old. Fifteen years ago, that number was 42. That means that our profession has aged five years in the last fifteen – and that’s unsustainable. The sales profession needs new blood.
With millennials now making up the majority of the workforce and Gen Z close behind, you might need to evolve your hiring practices to continue attracting top young sales talent. The old way of hiring salespeople – putting out a basic job description and waiting for resumes to trickle in – just won’t cut it anymore for recruiting younger generations. I’ve seen this in working with my clients – and I’ve seen some new methods generate great results. Sales managers need to take a more proactive and strategic approach to stand out and connect with qualified candidates. Here are five updated hiring techniques that have been shown to be successful in reaching younger sales professionals.
Showcase Your Company Culture: “Culture” isn’t just a buzzword anymore. Today’s younger workforce values culture, flexibility, and purpose when job seeking. Showcase what makes your company culture, and your job opportunity, unique when recruiting. Highlight your culture on your careers page, company website, and job posts. Let candidates know if you offer benefits like remote work options (sales is well positioned for this in my opinion) and professional development programs– these attract young talent. Use images, videos, and employee spotlights so candidates can get a feel for your work environment. Culture can make or break whether you connect with younger applicants. One key – whatever you do, it must be authentic. Understand – even if you fake your culture, sites like Greendoor will very quickly let candidates know the truth.
Leverage Social Sourcing: Younger generations live their lives online and on social media. You should incorporate social sourcing strategies into your hiring process to connect with talent where they already spend time. Strategically post job openings in relevant Facebook and LinkedIn groups in your industry. Share and engage with content from top performers and rising sales stars you’d like to recruit and connect with them. You can also identify passive candidates by searching profiles with relevant backgrounds or skills. Social recruiting allows you to grab the attention of talented individuals who aren’t actively job seeking. This also means being innovative with respect to your recruiting message. Don’t be afraid to step out of your lane and try things like a video job ad (keep it to 60 seconds or less) or memes (funny or serious). Post not only to the “normal” mediums like LinkedIn and Facebook, but consider TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram. Remember – you can’t hire them if they don’t know you are hiring. Don’t be snobbish about the way you get your candidates. Just get them.
Highlight Development Opportunities: Younger sales talent care about career growth and acquiring new skills. If your company lacks structured development programs, highlight other growth opportunities in your job posts and outreach. Better yet, BUILD some structured development programs, starting with your 90 Day Onboarding program (you have one of those, right?). Mention if top performers have a chance to take on mentees, have access to skill-building resources, or can participate in stretch assignments. You want candidates to see that your company supports professional advancement so they envision future opportunities. Having one-on-one meetings with candidates to discuss career path trajectory is also powerful.
Showcase Tech Stack: Millennials and Gen-Z candidates expect companies to harness modern technologies and encourage innovation from employees. When recruiting, thoroughly describe your tech stack – like sales engagement platforms, LinkedIn integration, data analytics, and automation tools you leverage (and if you aren’t already, get comfortable with phrases like “tech stack”). Discuss how your sales team utilizes technology to enhance productivity. Today, you’d better be comfortable discussing AI as a sales tool. You want tech-savvy candidates to see you provide cutting-edge resources to drive results. By the way – if you aren’t using tech to drive sales results, start doing it. The sales profession isn’t going to be backtracking to a low-tech environment anytime soon.
Convey Company Mission & Impact: Younger people increasingly seek out purpose-driven work. When recruiting new team members, sales managers should communicate how their company mission makes a difference and highlight recent company impact metrics. For example, explain how your product or service tangibly helps customers. If you have community involvement programs, those should be part of your messaging. One fear I’ve heard is that sales managers are reluctant to get into politics with candidates. That’s fine; you don’t need to. Companies can be seen as positive without being seen as taking a particular political stance.
Respond Quickly: Younger generations have been conditioned by social media to expect quick likes, comments, and attention. If you want to succeed in hiring, get used to doing the same. I used to recommend that managers collect resume’s for a week, then sort through, pick ones to call, and call. Now the best practice is to receive a resume’, do a quick scan on it, and then call right then. If your candidate doesn’t answer, you should also email and text. You want the candidate to get that quick dopamine hit that comes with a quick response, and then give multiple ways to get back with you.
Never mistake this: You are competing for talent in a highly competitive environment. If some of the tactics above resemble ways that you’d compete for customers, that’s not an accident. Compete for sales talent with the same intensity as you compete for customers, and you’ll have a great sales team. And you’ll leave many of your competitors behind.