5 Ways to Recruit and Retain Gen X, Gen Y

This is your sales force of the future so learn strategies for reaching out to them.

April 1, 2009

The 20- and 30-somethings in your sales force are the future of your business, says Darrin Friedman, branch vice president of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Washington, D.C. But if you’re not part of the younger generation, it’s not always easy to connect with young people, who are sometimes labeled as "slackers" or the "MySpace generation."

Friedman advises brokerage managers to show young people that you value their distinctive skills. Understanding these cohorts comes naturally to Friedman, who, at 34, sits squarely in the Generation X camp. His recommendations:

1. Communicate in kind. If they use Twitter, you use Twitter; if they text, you text. Not on Facebook? You should be. As a manager, you must adapt to the largest population of new practitioners in the style they prefer. Use their communication and networking methods to show your own open-mindedness.

2. Be quick to respond. The days of getting back to someone "later" are over. The Generation X and Y salespeople want everything now. For them, it’s about immediate responsiveness—something that serves them well with today’s Web-savvy consumers. The advent of the BlackBerry and iPhone makes this easy.

3. Recognize their individuality. X and Y can be a loyal bunch if they feel appreciated for their unique strengths. Recognize their skills, whether in prospecting, marketing, networking, or negotiating. Identify what they do best and regularly remind them, and a mutually beneficial loyalty will develop.

4. Keep your dealings short and to the point. If you bore them, they’ll leave. So if your sales meetings take 90 minutes when they could take 35 minutes, shorten them. Show that you will stir their imagination with innovative business practices and help them grow professionally.

5. Seek them out on the Web. Generation X and Y practitioners are out there, begging to be found in the digital world. Make the effort to spot them and engage them. Post comments on their blogs. Follow them on Twitter. Their online communication and marketing skills can be a boon to your business.

Follow REALTOR® Magazine's Young Professionals Network on Twitter: @YPN.