Sales Leadership

What’s the first thing you think about when you hear the word success? What’s its definition? Well, that depends, and it might just depend on how old you are.

Bruce Feller is the author of a new book, The Search: Finding Meaningful Work in a Post-Career World. An essay he adapted from the book and its research was published this month in the Wall Street Journal. Here’s what he found from thousands of hours of interviews with an extraordinarily diverse group of Americans—those in the workplace aged 19 to 42.

They’re quitting jobs for new routines and new traditions—50 million last year. And, they are turning away from the old notions of success, burning the midnight oil, sacrificing one’s family, maintaining a singular focus, and money and achievement as the mecca of success.

Instead they are looking for meaningful work and work balanced with the rest of their life. It’s their number one priority and much closer to how they define success. While some still want wealth or status, less that 25% of them mention a high salary or financial benefits as even on their list of success targets.

So, what does this mean?  What do sales leaders, recruiters and company owners do about this?  Let’s look at three things.

A Purpose Driven Organization

Companies must stress service to others in their sales jobs and in the company’s offerings. Constantly gather stories about how customers and employees are helped by the company, and how the company gives back to society. 

Purpose over profit, profit over laziness, and relationships over money. It all comes full circle back to what a company values and the “why.” Young people today want to find meaning in the workplace and out of the work they do. Help them find it. 

Prioritize the Betterment of Your People

Help your new reps get to know themselves, their dreams and hobbies, and their family interests. And if an exit from your company is right for them, even wish them well as they leave you to pursue what will bring them greater personal fulfillment. 

You can help people find greater meaning and purpose in their lives when you help them discover more about themselves; and then, how they can use this self-knowledge and emotional intelligence to adapt to and be a valuable service to their customers and their family. 

Help them develop a new story for their lives, one with purpose and meaning, by facilitating their growth in the following ways: completing self-assessments, taking personal inventory of their life and its most important parts, writing down a vision for their future, and conducting personal and foundational interviews. 

Financial Peace vs Financial Gain

Of course, priorities change as lives change. Some are near financial ruin. Some have special needs children. Others have parents needing care. While minimum sales expectations are still real and important in a company, please be careful to keep the underlying narrative away from sacrificing all things for money, even family and health, or as some have said, “the almighty dollar.”  

People’s lives vary dramatically and constantly undergo change, and so do personal priorities and what is most important at a particular time in a person’s life. Knowing people at this level and mentoring them to the appropriate use of time and money are vital to engaging workers and retaining today’s sales force.

Mr. Feller has discovered a profound shift in how young sales reps view success, and it’s different from the motivational speakers of the past. To connect with the young professionals of today, help them find meaningful work as a salesperson in your company, to not feel trapped in something without purpose, and help them dig out the values important to them, the future they want, and the place money plays in it at this time in their life. 

Prioritizing Your People Will Retain Talent

As a sales leader in today’s opportunity-filled world, you can navigate this changing definition of success while maintaining the business ideas of service, profit and sales results. You can do this with the values you choose for your leadership. You can do this, because it makes sense. People and their needs take priority over only chasing assets.

It may not be easy as you evaluate how and when to shift your leadership. But you can work to find the balance in what you do for your reps, your company, your customers, and the most important people of all…your family. It will pay off. You will increase the work focus of your sales teams, and you will retain more sales reps if you do.

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