How to Motivate Different Generations on Your Sales Team

David Vigliotti, Vice President
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motivating different generations

Working with multiple generations on your sales team can be challenging. Although you want everyone to collaborate as a team, you also need to acknowledge that they have different goals and interests. What may be relevant to one generation may not be as important to another. As a result, you need to find ways to motivate teammates in the ways that work best for them. 

Find out how to motivate different generations on your sales team.  

Characteristics of Each Generation 

Each generation is known for its specific traits. For instance, Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, tend to be ambitious, loyal and work-centric. They’re motivated by promotions, professional development and having their expertise acknowledged. High levels of responsibility, perks, praise, and challenges are important. Generation X, born between 1965 and 1980, tends to appreciate work-life balance, independent work, and minimal supervision. They typically value opportunities to grow, make choices and have mentors. Generation X tends to believe promotions should be based on competence rather than rank, age or seniority. Most are motivated by flexible schedules, telecommuting, recognition from their boss and monetary rewards. Millennials, born between 1980 and 1995, typically are tech-savvy, enjoy jobhopping and like moving up the corporate ladder. They appreciate skills training, mentoring, feedback and company culture. Most Millennials enjoy collaboration, flexible schedules, time off and stock options. Generation Z, born in 1996 or later, typically is motivated by social rewards, mentorship, and constant feedback. They tend to prefer meaningful work, responsibility and flexible schedules. Generation Z often prefers personal growth, structure, and transparency.  

Motivating Baby Boomers 

Baby Boomers strive to earn titles and authority. They want their knowledge and experience valued and appreciated. Reward their loyalty. Provide the status and credentials they deserve. Ask them to mentor less experienced sales reps. Sharing their skills and experience adds meaning to their lives. Focus on their professional accomplishments. Show they’re respected and needed. Offer monetary rewards. Encourage peer recognition. 

Motivating Generation X 

Generation X appreciates individualism. They enjoy being resourceful and self-sufficient. Give them responsibility with little oversight. Respect their independence and autonomy. Help them develop leadership skills. Provide direct, immediate feedback. Encourage them to work hard and become expert sales reps. Clearly define your expectations so they can meet or exceed them. 

Motivating Millennials 

Millennials are encouraged by interpersonal relationships. As a result, you want to get to know their family, hobbies, and interests. Give regular feedback to improve their performance. Provide praise and recognition when appropriate. Cultivate empathy and guidance. Millennials also look for ways to enhance work-life balance. To satisfy this desire, offer a flexible schedule. Provide remote work options so your team can fit in work around personal responsibilities and interests. Give PTO to volunteer with a charity and help the local community.   

Motivating Generation Z 

Generation Z enjoys social rewards, constant feedback, and responsibility. One way to motivate them is through experiential rewards and badges like those earned through gaming. Provide them structure, clear directions, and opportunities for personal growth.  

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