Five Insights for High-Performing Multigenerational Sales Teams

By Michelle Richardson, VP of Sales Performance Research, The Brooks Group
Two people sit at a table smiling.

Do you lead a multigenerational sales team? If so, you may have questions about how to manage sales professionals of varying ages and interests to achieve the best results.

There are now four generations of sales professionals working at the same time. The youngest are just entering the field as the oldest are looking toward retirement.  

  • Generation Z: Born 1997-2012 
  • Millennials: Born 1981-1996 
  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980 
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964 

The individuals in every generation tend to have their strengths and development areas—and distinct attitudes toward work. It’s crucial for sales leaders to understand the motivations, behaviors, and learning styles of team members in every age group. With this knowledge, you can attract, retain, and inspire a cohesive cross-generational team. 

The Brooks Group analyzed the differences and similarities of each generation of sales professionals to identify trends in sales skills and performance. Our report, Managing a Multigenerational Sales Team, presents the results of a survey of B2B sales leaders across multiple industries.   

Our findings reveal steps sales leaders can take to recognize, motivate, and reward sales professionals from baby boomers to Gen Z—ultimately driving better results for their organizations.

Five Generational Trends for Sales Leaders 

Trend 1: Leaders of millennial teams are more confident they have the skills and capabilities to meet strategic objectives than leaders of other teams. 

  • 86% of leaders with millennial teams are confident.  
  • 74% of leaders with Gen X teams are confident. 
  • 62% of leaders with Gen Z teams are confident. 
  • 50% of leaders with baby boomer teams are confident. 

Sales Leader Tip: To gain confidence in your team’s capabilities and to train on correct development areas, use an assessment tool that identifies skill gaps, motivators, and behavior styles.  

Trend 2: Organizations with predominantly Gen X sales professionals are more on track to reach quota this year than other generations. 

  • 72% of Gen X teams have more than half of their salespeople on track to reach quota. 
  • Other teams only have 48-50% of salespeople on track to reach quota. 

Sales Leader Tip: Look to the habits and tactics of Gen X sales professionals to see what you can replicate to improve quota attainment. 

Trend 3: Gen Z teams are less likely to consistently follow a sales process. 

Only 58% of organizations with predominantly Gen Z sales professionals follow a sales process consistently, while 75-86% of other teams do. 

Sales process adherence correlates with team success. Younger sales professionals may be unfamiliar with the benefits of following a process or may not have been part of organizations in recent years where adherence was expected and reinforced. 

Sales Leader Tip: Make sure you have a well-defined sales process in place and train all team members to follow it. 

Trend 4: Teams with mostly Gen X sales professionals are ready to start engaging with customers more quickly than other generations.  

  • Gen X takes an average of 7.5 months to engage with customers. 
  • Gen Z and millennials take 10.5 months.  
  • Boomers take 11.8 months. 

Sales Leader Tip: Identify skills gaps or sales process deviation that could be slowing down sales professionals. Enhance those areas of your new hire onboarding. 

Trend 5: Organizations with predominantly millennial sales professionals had the highest average turnover in the past year. Gen X teams had the lowest. 

  • Millennial teams experienced 27% average turnover in the past year. 
  • Gen Z teams averaged 19% turnover. 
  • Boomer teams averaged 15% turnover. 
  • Gen X teams averaged 13% turnover. 

There are many reasons sales professionals change companies. Millennial turnover may be because this age group is reaching its professional prime and wants to advance in their careers. Some seek work-life balance and better opportunities. Some want to improve earning potential. You can’t assume money is the primary driver of satisfaction. 

Sales Leader Tip: Understand what motivates individuals on your team. Align incentive structures with each team member’s driving forces. Invest in retention strategies, professional development, sales training, and coaching. 

Recommendations for Sales Leaders 

The key to sales success for multigenerational teams is to understand the unique drivers, communication styles, and needs of each generation while also promoting collaboration, mutual respect, and open-mindedness across the entire team.  

Here are some specific recommendations for sales leaders to build better working relationships with each generation: 

Generation Z: Provide frequent feedback and opportunities for growth. 

  • Leverage technology and digital communication channels. 
  • Allow flexibility and work-life balance. 
  • Emphasize company values and social impact. 
  • Make wellness a priority, especially mental health. 

Millennials: Offer coaching, mentorship, and clear career paths. 

  • Create a collaborative and inclusive team environment. 
  • Allow for work-life integration and remote work options. 
  • Provide opportunities for learning and development. 

Generation X: Offer work autonomy and a results-oriented approach. 

  • Provide work-life balance and flexible schedules. 
  • Leverage their experience and value their input. 
  • Communicate directly and avoid excessive corporate jargon. 

Baby boomers: Recognize their experience, loyalty, and strong work ethic. 

  • Maintain respect for hierarchy and traditional processes. 
  • Provide stable working conditions and job security. 
  • Offer training on new technologies adopted by the company. 

By developing a deep understanding of each generation, sales leaders can create a more inclusive, engaged, and high-performing sales team, ultimately driving better results for the organization. 

Michelle Richardson is the vice president of Sales Performance Research at The Brooks Group, where she spearheads industry research initiatives and oversees assessment services.