Episode TwoHundredSixty

How to Manage a Team with 5 Generations

Guest: Aaron Owen, Inside Sales Manager at Verizon

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About This Episode

We have five generations working in telecom sales now… all on the same team.

It’s no walk in the park to manage a team of a dozen reps ranging in age from 18 to 65.

I recently had a chance to pick the brain of Aaron Owen, Inside Sales Manager at Verizon, about his experience leading a cross-generational team.

“If anybody’s ever thinking about the telecom space, you learn a lifetime in a matter of years. It is a wonderful, wonderful company to work for,” Aaron said.

To reach his current role as Inside Sales Manager, Aaron took a lot of notes, invested time and resources in learning, and made sure to network. “I built a connection that I could reach out to later on down the road if I didn’t know something, and it benefited me,” he said.

Let’s dive into our three buckets of cross-generational management: people, process, and technology!

1 — People

Managing and leading an all ages, all experience, all generational team takes all new strategies. 

The first managerial bucket, people, is key.

(Note: Forgive the necessary generalizations when we’re speaking of members of different generations.)

Younger generations tend to be already used to video collaboration, while some older generations have to take a crash course in how to start a video call.

Everyone has nuances to what they are and aren’t familiar with. 

“The best way that I have found to manage both spectrums of those generations is collaboration,” Aaron said. “It’s a matter of getting them all in the same room — virtually, of course — and then laying it out all on the table.”

Don’t be surprised if your team members vent. Don’t be surprised, either, when regular meetings lead to an aha moment and partnerships that stick.

An ideal outcome is to create a buddy system/mentor program for partnerships between those who are stronger with telecom industry knowledge and those who are stronger with work from home processes.

Sales professionals learning from each other? It can’t get any better than that.

2 — Process

The trends for process are that older sellers are used to their own process, which they may have kept longer than their managers’ entire careers. They tend to be tactile and, at worst, stuck in their own methodology.

Younger sellers may want a very clear path to success. They want to know every single step that they should take in the “correct” process.

“I monitor and control that by setting the expectation, and then constant reiteration,” Aaron said. He spends a lot of time answering the same questions in daily meetings.

Two daily meetings isn’t too many when we’re still working from home and isolated from each other. Aaron has stepped up the team’s presence on camera to a large degree to maintain the team’s energy, drive, and connection.

Side note about energy: If you’re recruiting for hustle and grit, look in the service industry for front of house managers, former bartenders, and star servers.

“When I’m doing interviews, it is drive. It is energy. It’s not necessarily ‘Are you 100% qualified to do the job at hand?’” Aaron said.

3 — Technology

A lot of companies have gone through an incredible sales digital transformation. Using technology to enable reps and manage sales teams has evolved this past year, too.

WFH hardware 

Those of us formerly in offices were used to having an IT manager come help us if something breaks.

Now, however, we need each rep to have two monitors, a desktop, and a quality camera. 

Plan on talking through what an ethernet cord is. Plan on investing a lot of time in training for virtual meeting excellence.

WFH communication apps

  • Email
  • Video
  • Phone
  • Text message
  • Instant message
  • Salesforce Chatter
  • Slack
  • Jabber
  • Hangouts
  • Zoom
  • Teams
  • WebEx
  • Blue Jean
  • WhatsApp

Basically, however the customer or the rep wants to communicate, Aaron and his team will communicate via that channel. It’s a tall order but an essential one for telecom.

Aaron’s takeaways

I try to ask each guest to name three things they hope listeners will remember.

Aaron: Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Get back to the basics. Collaboration is key.

We become successful together, not individually. For anybody that is managing or trying to manage a successful sales team in today’s day and age with the generations that we have, I would say collaboration, get back to the basics, and you have to do it together.

Get in touch with Aaron on LinkedIn.

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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