Compensating Millennials

In the market for a recent college grad, or even someone who’s been in the workforce for just a year or two, as an addition to your sales force? You may be wondering how to structure a compensation plan that will be attractive to millennials and still make sense from the company side. Here are some thoughts:

Where to start: If you’re hiring someone with a business degree from a four-year college, consider a base salary range of $35-45k depending on the nature of the sale.

History matters: Is this their first “real job” or do they bring experience from another role? Someone with a track record of sales success – even while they were a student – might command a base closer to $50k. Some applicants will have been servers, bartenders or retail employees. These can be great training grounds for a sales career, but a full-time sales opportunity is a much more valuable proposition. You can probably pay less to someone just cracking into this career path.

Inside out. Letting a new hire spend 12 to 24 months in an inside sales role before turning them loose on the world is a great way to make sure their training is rock solid. They’ll talk to dozens of clients each day, learn how to generate proper proposals and really learn your product or service catalog.

The upside. A chance to earn an additional $10-12k for meeting sales goals is motivating for someone earning $40k. If that’s not the number, figure on showing a path to 20 percent upside in year one for someone in an outside sales role.

Getting there fast. Understand the time sensitivity of the millennial: make sure you demonstrate a clear and achievable career path. If you don’t, you run the risk of your new hire jumping to greener pastures before you realize much of a return on your investment. So if you’re starting them in an inside sales role as suggested above, make sure they know when they can expect to leave the nest. And to the same end, the rewards should be achievable in the short term … think monthly commissions, not some vague promise of a year-end bonus.

Don’t go cheap. Resist the temptation to skimp on the base salary in favor of commission, or worse still, to offer a straight commission plan. Our experience is that doing either of these will dramatically decrease the quality of the pool of applicants.

Cost of living. These numbers are solid estimates for the Baltimore Metro market. In DC and Northern Virginia, you’ll probably need to add 5 to 10 percent.