Not All About the Money: How to Compensate the Millennial Sales Force

“Millennials are the most threatening and exciting generation since the baby boomers brought about social revolution, not because they’re trying to take over the Establishment but because they’re growing up without one.” – Joel Stein, Time Magazine.

By 2025, the Millennial generation will represent approximately 75% of the global workforce. In order to succeed, businesses need to adapt to the new behaviors and expectations of this age group. Sales organizations in particular must understand how to motivate and compensate Millennials if they want to maximize sales performance and retain talent.

Let’s dig into the main characteristics of the Millennial work force and some of the changes you should consider making today.

millennials compensation

Millennials at Work

This group differs from previous generations in a few fundamental ways. Here are some findings from the 2016 Deloitte Millennial Survey:

  • Millennials are less loyal to companies than previous generations. 66% expect to leave their current job by 2020; 25% will look for new opportunities within the next 6 to 12 months.
  • They value a supportive work culture and ethics, as opposed to company size and brand popularity.
  • They prioritize having a sense of purpose over profit maximization.
  • Besides competitive financial compensation, Millennials want a balanced work/life schedule and opportunities to grow.

In other words, companies should not rely only on compensation and job stability to attract and retain Millennials. This group is looking for a sense of fulfilment and a workplace in which they can make an impact.

The Perks of Having a Millennial Salesforce

Millennials are great for the sales profession. They are ambitious, focused, and have an entrepreneurial spirit. This means they will actively go after sales opportunities and not give up easily. Once they believe in a company and set their minds on selling, they will give their all to shift products.

Millennials are wizards at using social media to network and promote products and services. This gives them a leg up on their older, more traditional colleagues when it comes to the selling race.

People in their 20s and 30s are digital natives. Millennials adopt new technologies fast and use them to their advantage. Sales organizations should have an easier time introducing new technologies and innovation in the workplace.

Not least, Millennials think analytically and use data to make decisions. They conduct a lot of research before making choices. This group understands buyer behavior and motivators better than previous generations.

Sales Compensation for Happy Millennials

Don’t be discouraged by Millennials’ tendency to change jobs frequently. Lack of loyalty might be a sign that organizations have not yet adapted their compensation habits to the Millennial generation. With the proper compensation, you will be able to attract and retain talent, reducing the resource-consuming turnover phenomenon.

You have to offer money – and more.

Millennials expect more out of a workplace than a salary. But that doesn’t mean that money is not important to them. You must offer competitive pay, a fair incentive compensation plan, and non-financial rewards that keep sales reps engaged and motivated.

Financial compensation

Stay competitive! Millennials are informed people who survey the job market and stay up to date with industry standards. Keep an eye on the market and offer attractive and fair compensation for sales talent.

They also want their work to have an impact. Clearly communicate the compensation plan and increase motivation by explaining sales reps’ role in the big picture and especially their purpose beyond profit.


Millennials want to grow and become leaders. Mentors should help sales reps understand where they fit in the company, how their work impacts results, and how the organization helps them grow.

Create a mentorship program dedicated to helping sales reps overcome challenges and focus on improving their skills and performance. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to train the mentors. Provide the framework for mentorship sessions to happen. Encourage mentors to create a habit of reaching out to mentees, and vice versa.

Mentor Outside the Box

In 2012, The Hartford decided to implement a reverse mentoring program, through which a young employee with something to teach is partnered with an older, senior manager with something to learn. The program was well received and successful. “Throughout the project, mentors and mentees reported having “aha” moments and eye-opening ideas that led them to embark on new activities or conduct business in new ways.” (full case study)

Developmental opportunities

Besides mentorship, provide your sales force with opportunities to develop their skills through in-house or external trainings. Give reps the chance to practice what they learn in a friendly work environment. Allow time in their busy schedules for personal development. It will be time well spent, as reps will be more driven to succeed and bring more knowledge and confidence to their interactions with prospects, whether over the phone or in person.

Flexible work

Working remotely and setting your own work schedule is not a thing of the future. It’s happening now, in more and more companies around the world.

Millennials, more than other age groups, have come to expect and demand flexibility in their work schedule. Oftentimes they choose companies because of their work policies. If you want to attract and retain top sales talent, you have to allow reps to take some degree of ownership of their schedule, work location, and even vacation days.

Unlimited Vacation Days

Since 2004, Netflix employees have been benefiting from unlimited vacation days. “We should focus on what people get done, not how many hours or days worked,” states the company policy. The move doesn’t seem to have hurt the company. Since instituting the policy, Netflix has grown its market cap to over $51 billion ( Virgin and other successful companies have followed in its footsteps.

Not least, listen to your sales force. What do they want? What keeps them motivated? Millennials want to work in organizations where their voices are heard and their individuality is recognized. Show them how deeply you value their contribution and they will work for you with passion and grit.

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Chris Glass

Sales Director

Chris has nearly 30 years of sales and sales leadership experience. He excels in planning and executing high growth sales strategies of new and disruptive products and services into the EMEA market. Chris is highly regarded for recruiting and developing highly effective world class teams, while engendering a culture of collaboration and communication.

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