5 Things to Know About Gen-Z: The ‘Kids’ Taking Over Your Sales Team

February 20, 2019

Shawn Parrotte

Chances are, you already have a member of Gen-Z on your sales team and at least a few of your SDRs are likely “post Millennial.”

The oldest members of Gen-Z are already 22 and were born between 1995 and 2010. In 2019 they will be 24. And by 2021, they will make up ⅓ of the workplace.

But what unique strengths, opportunities, and challenges will this new generation of sellers bring to the table?

Here are the top five ways Gen-Z sales reps will approach work differently:

1. They Demand Hyper Efficiency #

There’s no denying that Gen-Z is even less focused, more easily distracted, and better multitaskers than Millennials given that they were practically born with tech in hand.

Just watch them on their IPhones playing Fortnite or multi-tasking between Slack and e-mail without second thought. Or run into them in the bathroom where they’ll still have wireless headphones stuck in their ears.

This generation won’t put up with boring or long-winded lectures and outdated tools that slow them down. Having grown up in a world where most things have always been available on-demand, Gen-Z has a new definition of time and patience.

To keep them engaged, ensure team meetings and trainings are concise, interactive, and that they take advantage of new content formats, such as videos, memes, quotes, and audio snippets.

Tap into their ability to work as self-starters by assigning them things they can do on their own, such as readings or listening to playlists of calls.

2. They Use Tech Differently #

While Millennials still tend to use desktops, laptops, and watch TV, Gen-Z has thrown a lot of that out the window completely.

Their world is dominated by their mobile phone, followed by laptops, YouTube (which is effectively its own media channel replacing TV in many regards), and other social media.

Fast-paced communication Platforms like Slack will replace email, more collaborative Platforms like Google Drive will replace Microsoft Word, and Gen-Z will certainly listen to Podcasts while working.

88% care about cutting-edge tech in the workplace and 89% believe “robots and humans will work together in an integrated team.”

That means this generation will provide ample opportunity to re-think everything from your sales tech-stack to the channels you use to train and interact with clients.

However, it will continue to create deeper digital divides between your youngest and oldest sellers, which may pose a challenge for some teams.

Slack, which can be dizzying for some, will be second nature to Gen Z.

3. They Consider Themselves “Entrepreneurs” Before Sellers #

Gen-Z is considered a highly entrepreneurial generation that grew up witnessing the rise of the “side hustle” and most of its major artists skyrocket to fame on social media.

76% of them see themselves as “owners of their own careers” and 46% plan to have their own business (compared to 32% across all working generations).

Gen-Z will want even more freedom and autonomy to express their ideas. They’ll expect to contribute beyond their job description and will envision a role on your team not as a path to a career in sales, but to entrepreneurship in general.

Just like Millennials demand rapid career progression and are quick to get discouraged if they don’t move up or over into new roles, Gen-Z will be even less content with a lack of momentum and new learning experiences.

Consider opportunities to expose them to “why” you’re making decisions and the thinking behind your business.

4. They're Pragmatic and Less Optimistic Than Millennials #

Though they certainly have a lot going for them, there’s no hiding the fact that Gen-Z is considered the most anxious generation. Who can blame them given how connected they’ve been their entire lives, including to constantly jarring 24-7 news?

Their parents (Gen X) were also significantly stunted by the Recession.

This has led to a pretty notable stat: while 71% of Millennials believe they will achieve a higher standard of living than their parents, just 56% of Gen-Z feels the same.

Whereas Millennials were perhaps known for being over confident, Gen-Z will be much less likely to act like “know it alls.”

In fact, some may be a little timid about taking the reins and many will need more consistent communication and feedback from you to confirm they’re headed in the right direction.

5. They're Much More Diverse #

Gen-Z has grown up around diversity and 48% are non-white. Because they’ve lived and breathed diversity, Gen-Z is much more likely to expect their company and leaders to promote transparent dialogue, create identity, and build a sense of community among diverse teams.

When asked if they have “one or more close friends that are a different race than me” here’s how each demographic group answered:

  • 81% Gen Z
  • 69% Millennials
  • 67% Gen X

59% of Gen-Z also have friends of a different sexual orientation than themselves.

The days of homogenous sales teams are definitely dead with this generation.

Along with diversity, Gen-Z also expects a higher degree of transparency and authenticity at work, as they do with most things since much of their life has been broadcasted on social media.

This generation will expect diversity at every level - within the sales organization, at your company, and on your board.

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