Generation Z salespeople are the future of the sales profession. Recruiting and developing this generation of talent requires new approaches. Peak Sales Executive Search has a track record of finding sales managers and executives for clients in technology, industrial sales, and other sectors.
Four Trends That Are Shaping Gen Z
The first step to engaging Generation Z is understanding the trends shaping this demographic. Born between 1997 to 2012, this generation is even more digitally native than the Millennial generation that came before them.
1. Internet Use
Heavy Internet usage is a common habit for Gen Z. According to eMarketer, Internet penetration for Gen Z is forecast to reach 99.1% by 2024. In comparison, Millennials are lagging slightly at 97%.
Beyond Internet usage, diversity is a crucial factor to keep in mind for Generation Z. Gen Z might be the most pro-diversity generation ever. The Pew Research Center found that 62% of Gen Z agree that increasing racial/ethnic diversity is good for diversity. In addition, about one-third of Gen Z people know somebody who uses a gender-neutral pronoun.
3. Higher Debt
Financially, Gen Z grew up during a period of low-interest rates, which may have contributed to the generation’s high debt load. Gen Z graduates tend to have a student loan debt of over $17,000 and often use “buy now pay later” lending services to make purchases. These debt figures will likely grow as more of the generation enters post-secondary education.
4. Impacted By The COVID-19 Pandemic
Many generations have a defining event or crisis that influences how they view the world. The financial crisis profoundly shaped the Millennial generation, and the Great Recession of 2007-2009 impacted careers, earnings, and outlook. For Gen Z, that defining event might be the COVID-19 pandemic. It led to unprecedented restrictions on the economy, travel, social life and much more.
Strategies To Attract and Grow Gen Z Employees
Recruiting and retaining Generation Z sales talent is challenging. Axios estimates that 25% of Gen Z employees will change jobs in the next six months. Gen Z is changing jobs faster than older generations. To stand out and recruit talent, keep the following principles in mind.
1. Make your commitment to flexible and remote work clear
The pandemic brought large-scale remote work to millions of people. For Gen Z, that remote work revolution arrived just as many were starting their careers. As a result, research has found that Gen Z employees are 77% more likely to pay attention to job postings with flexibility. Therefore, if you can offer remote or hybrid work, state that fact front and center in your sales job postings.
Offering flexibility to new salespeople can take a few forms. Start by improving new employee onboarding programs for an era of flexible work. Focus on results and goals rather than rigidly working a 9-5 schedule. For example, help a newly recruited sales development representative set weekly goals for sales activity (e.g., “Make X prospecting calls” or “Set 5 qualified meetings”). A weekly goal means the employee has the flexibility to apply themselves to meet their goals while retaining flexibility.
2. Refocus on diversity and inclusion initiatives
As mentioned above, diversity is an essential concern for Gen Z employees. Self-assess your progress on diversity matters by considering the following questions:
- Sales guest speakers. Many sales organizations have annual kickoffs and other events to inspire their teams to achieve challenging goals. Take a closer look at whether your organization’s diversity goals are reflected in who is invited to speak.
- There’s nothing like seeing somebody as you succeed. Find ways to encourage high-performing, diverse sales employees to apply for promotions and awards. will also help to retain your top performers more actively.
- Review your advertising and marketing materials. Your company’s marketing materials, including social media content, should reflect a wide range of people. If your company has fallen behind others on this front, acknowledge the gap and encourage your marketing colleagues to improve.
Finally, invite your new sales employees to share their ideas and passion for diversity. Your new Gen Z may surprise you with new ideas to connect with a more diverse customer base.
3. Demonstrate your company’s values
77% of Generation Z employees say it is vital to work for an organization whose values align with their own, according to Deloitte. That expectation takes several forms, including ethical supply chain practices. For example, several jurisdictions, including California and the UK, have adopted legislation to increase supply chain transparency and eliminate modern slavery in industries like agriculture and textiles.
Sales leaders have an opportunity to help newer Gen Z employees understand how the company lives its values. For example, show your new sales staff how you select suppliers based on multiple criteria such as ethics, cost, and value.
4. Enhance compensation for the 2020s
In 2022, inflation reached record highs, last seen in the early 1980s. Reviewing and improving entry-level sales compensation may be needed to attract Gen Z sales talent.
In addition to competitive pay, improving health benefits to better support mental health is worthwhile. According to the American Psychological Association, Gen Z is more likely than other generations to report their mental health as fair or poor. Supporting this need can be as simple as understanding the need for periodic mental health days to manage stress. Ideally, this support should include offering health coverage for mental health services for more significant needs.
The Right Sales Leaders Lay The Foundation of Gen Z Success
Making your company attractive to Gen Z salespeople is only half the equation. It is equally important to find employees capable of thriving in the sales profession. Yet, recruiting new sales professionals is challenging because these employees typically lack sales experience.
The solution is to develop your sales talent pipeline with Peak Sales Executive Search. That starts with enhancing your sales leadership positions. That’s why it is necessary to ensure your sales leaders have the skills to recruit and grow your next generation of sales talent.