Michael TeohOnboarding your Millennial Sales Teams is the Founder of Thriving Talents, a company that consults and trains youth talents in organizations and universities to succeed in life and work. Last week, Michael shared his insights on how to engage and onboard a Millennial sales force and start them off on the right way in your organization.

Michaels 3 tips to make your onboarding programs successful:

1) Give them Clarity
– on goals
– understanding themselves
– on what is expected

2) Develop Mastery
– Sales skills
– Soft skills (especial for the virtual environment )
– Product or Solution skills


3) Sustainability
– Build practices to help them stay motivated and engaged. This is especially important to consider if your sales force is still working in a virtual world.

Lots more actionable tips in here. Give it a listen and remain curious!

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Audio Transcript

Pooja Kumar
enablement for ASEAN and India. My name is Pooja and I’m here to my mission is to create a place where sales enablement and business leaders could learn from each other new ways of enabling their sales teams and helping them Excel. This is onboarding month at trust enablement. And we are talking about all things that onboarding. And I am filled. thrilled to have back on our podcast or our LinkedIn live session today, Michael to for the second time around, and Michael is the founder of thriving talents. He is an expert at engaging Gen Y and millennial workforces across the world. We’re lucky to have him based in Malaysia, but he works across the world. And onboarding has become specifically a hot topic around the world in the last 18 months. While much of the world is still virtual or hybrid, how to engage our sellers is a big question and especially how are we engaging our younger sales teams? And are we doing it well? So thank you, Michael, for being here. It’s honor to have you back on the show. would you would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself and the business that and your business? The thrive? Excellent.

Michael Teoh Su Lim
Thank you Pooja. So first and foremost. Hello, everyone at the sales enablement community, the trust enablement committee, all communities that are bound together to create better businesses. For our challenging world right now. Together, we can beat this pandemic. Yay. First off, thank you again for inviting me here. My passion has always been to decode the chemistry of productivity, high performance and influence between management organizations, and their employees or manpower. And my area of expertise would be focusing on employees in the millennials, or the younger generation of the workforce. Starting from the generation y’s, which a lot of them are actually aging, they are being entrusted with more leadership positions right now to manage the millennials. So as a company driving talents, we’re grateful since day one, we’re in the business to help leaders and organizations equip the necessary skills for their millennial talent to make them more productive and profitable in their careers in their organizations. And we have expanded our solutions and trainings speaking across 41 countries from as far as way as Japan, South Korea to South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Germany, Hungary, the United States, New Zealand, China, India, Canada, you name it, and I am grateful to be here. Thank you, Pooja.

Pooja Kumar
Thank you, Michael. And you do have quite a repertoire. I believe that Barack Obama wanted to fit into one of your your sessions once as well.

Michael Teoh Su Lim
Oh, yes, we have had the opportunity to have a special visit made by the President of the United States President Barack Obama, we became the only training company in Malaysia at that time to have hosted the President of the United States and our Prime Minister, back in the year 2014. For a half an hour leadership workshop men for young leaders. As you can see, the notion of young cannot escape me. I mean, I wish I can get younger that year by year. But that’s not possible. But at least I know, I work with the younger workforce, equipping them with the skills to become better leaders for our future in our organizations.

Pooja Kumar
Well, you know, Michael, you and I are always going to be young at heart.

Michael Teoh Su Lim
Oh, there you go. Yeah, I agree. I agree. I

Unknown Speaker
agree. Yes.

Pooja Kumar
Well, listen, it really is amazing to have you here and your expertise over here. What let’s start at the beginning, what defines a millennial or a Gen Y workforce? Because I’m actually quite confused with that.

Michael Teoh Su Lim
First and foremost, it is totally fine to be confused why I would challenge you right now even all of you watching this on LinkedIn hearing in our podcast right now. If you’re listening to the podcast, just stop your vehicle. Let’s be careful right here, okay. Just take out your phone and Google or Bing characteristics of millennials. I can guarantee you there’ll be 1000s and 1000s of different interpretations. If you are googling millennial characteristics of the United States, you get a definition, a set of criterias if you google millennial definition of Japan, you get a different criteria. That’s fine because as human beings, we are all unique. We are all governed by our behaviors, which are influenced by our cultures. So it’s perfectly fine. But having said that, though, that’s a lazy answer Pooja, you will be wondering, some crispy answer, tell me. So, in my organization driving talents, that’s what we do. We take all these research, we summarize it, we declutter it, and we consult our clients on it. So just to give you a hindsight, a helicopter view, a big overview of what defines the millennials or the gen y’s. Number one, they are technologically savvy. Number two, they tend to get bought rather easily. Number three, they want everything fast, fast, fast, it is because of how they will condition. Because Gone are the days when you want that extra knowledge, you want to learn something, you had to ride your bike, sit in your car drive to a nearby library. Now everything is just a click away via Google via YouTube. And also you would imagine because of all the robust technological advancement we are seeing right now, the millennials are leading this trend, where they are always thinking, must I really use a paper currency to pay my bills? I think I have my digital currency. Is conventional savings. The only way for me to amass wealth? Hmm, I may think of crypto. I may think of other alternative investments online, I may look at NF T’s right. So again, Millennials are more technologically savvy, they want faster lifestyle, and they’re always thinking, How can I work smarter instead of working harder, even though a big disclaimer Pooja, I always share this with my clients. It is very easy for us to generalize that the millennials who work with us or the millennial who’s part of our sales team want to be on boarded that way. We can use this generalization as a guide, but nothing beats personalization. And how do you do personalization, my advice to all my clients, if you have a sales leader, they should be trained or at least be equipped with some mentoring and coaching and facilitation skills. Because when they are able to facilitate and guide, that is how they’re able to really personalize their attention to that group of millennials that they are working with.

Pooja Kumar
Actually, that is that’s spot on. That you have different specifically you have general characteristics, but to really bring out the potential in anyone you need your sales leaders to be able to courage guide and mentor and, and lead them to be able to uncover that potential. I love that. That’s exactly Pooja. So you’ve talked about a few characteristics around around the millennial German and Gen Y. What else? Are there some other key characteristics that as a sales leader or a sales? Get out? Is there anything else that leaders or managers should be thinking about when they are trying to engage the Gen Y and millennial?

Michael Teoh Su Lim
First and foremost, I would like to share with all the sales leaders out there, the gen y’s or the millennials that you are going to hire and onboard, especially in this context for sales teams, we have to study their background, in a sense, where were they recruited from? What type of university did they come from? What is their demographic characteristics? Are they from a richer neighborhood? Because all these would play a role in deciding how driven they may be? At the start. Alright, so all these questions you need to reflect with your team, you need to understand first, and I’ll give you an example. So I’ve hired Gen y’s on millennials. I’ve hired them coming from two distinct types of schools here in Malaysia. So in Malaysia, you have the private schools and you have the government schools. So normally, people tend to say the private schools are normally attended by the wealthy. Alright. And the government schools, the public schools are the ones being attended by the normal people. Now what I tend to find is that the people who attended private schools, whom I’ve hired as part of my sales team, they tend to be more exposed, they tend to be more informed, whatever that’s happening because they have access to technology. They have access to the best teachers that their parents hired. But when I try to incentivize them with remuneration, a financial reward, it is harder to move, people that I’ve hired from private schools Because at the end of the day, they will tell me, Michael, if I don’t perform, maybe this sales job is just not for me, I’ll just leave and my parents are rich enough where I’ll be able to sustain myself, as compared to those who went to the public or government schools, they tend to be more driven when you incentivize them with monetary gains, because they know that these were some of the areas that they didn’t have much when they were growing up. So you need to understand what was the background of the group that you’re onboarding, and then do some cultural references with the local culture, and then design your remuneration packages accordingly. So Pooja, just to wrap up this question. If you were to ask me, Michael. So what’s your experience? How do you incentivize people who are from this high net worth families, I mean, if you telling us money is not the thing for them, what would incentivize them then? purpose, meaning, lifestyle, purpose, meaning lifestyle, alright, having a purpose in the work that they do, having a meaning in the products and services that they sell to clients, showing them the impact that they are creating for their clients. And then lastly, is the lifestyle, give them the lifestyle, give them the recognition, it may not be money, but they would appreciate the intimacy that you share as a group, the honors that you give them, the recognition, the trust that you give them as leaders.

Pooja Kumar
That’s very, and trust is such an important word, actually. And I think that’s across the board, though. It’s it’s at? Well, in my experience, I think, I think all millennials need to feel the trust that you give them. And yes, their purpose is different. And understanding their purpose is really important as well. So that’s a very good, good tips. Okay. So we’ve talked about some of the characteristics that we, the non Gen millennial treat, oh, or Gen Y should be concerned about. So think about onboarding, right? We live in a virtual world right now, at least in most of Asia Pacific, in the US and some of Europe, they’re moving into this hybrid world. And in my experience, the last 18 months, has been quite a roller coaster with what works and what doesn’t work in terms of onboarding, or training or engagement. Generally. You know, I mean, 18 months ago, when COVID hit, people were quite happy to be on boarded and, and engaged by zoom, they love the happy hours that we put together and, and created a sense of community for it. Zoom fatigue has really become a thing at the moment. And, and, and so even I look back and go, gosh, I need to keep reflecting on my processes of onboarding, and engaging these young salespeople. I work with mainly young salespeople, but I assume it’s the same everywhere. But I’ve really had to rethink how we do it quite regularly. I don’t think I have the right answers. So what’s your recommendation? When onboarding Gen Y and a millennial work workforce? What should we be thinking about?

Michael Teoh Su Lim
I would like to share a process that I have actually done. And we are in the process of proposing to a few clients of ours, that they recruit a lot of young people as part of their sales force. And they are in an industry where they have to sell, sell, sell, sell, and they’re coming from an industry as well where they used to sell face to face, but now they have to bring it online. So I’m going to give you guys what clients paid me 1000s and 1000s of dollars to consult them and to develop for them. So I’m going to give it to you guys. Just make sure you implement it well. Right. So a courtesy for all of you right here. First and foremost, in the onboarding process. I’m a believer clarity is the first thing that both the employer and the employee, the employee here being the salesperson that you’re onboarding, and the employer being new the product or the service provider, need to have. Alright, now what do we mean here by clarity? Number one during the onboarding process, it’s very important for you to explain to the onboard ease about your products, your service, I mean, this is a standard answer. Everybody knows that right? But it’s very important for you to show them case studies, what type of case studies case studies of the new normal case studies of how your most successful salesperson have managed to sell some Thing online, even though you were traditionally selling to face to face offline, how you have successfully pivoted online, to sell your products or your service, case studies, clarity on your products and your service. The second clarity that you need to achieve on the part of the onboard D on the part of the young person that you want to unboard it is to help them understand more about themselves. I’m a fan of personality assessment tools, I know that there’s plenty out there. If you ask me which one is my favorite? I would say not one particular one, I would say but rather just use a personality assessment tool to give you some guidance and some bearing about who that candidate is to allow the candidate to also know themselves more so that they could actually see what are their strengths, what are their weaknesses, and then you could tailor made personalized learning solutions or training and coaching for them. Now, right after that, once you have already identified what is their personality, at least they are dominant ones. The second clarity that you need to focus on on part of the onboarding the candidate is how do they dress up more confidently? Now you must be thinking, Michael, are you crazy? We’re doing sales? virtually? Why do they need to dress up my dear friends, I’m speaking to all of you right now, for those of you who are listening to podcasts, I’m going to tie and my favorite suit. So this is very important, because as you appear virtually a lot of people, especially in Asia, tend to take it lightly. Yeah, lightly and said, Hey, you know, we’re working from home, hey, I hope you don’t mind. Guys, your customers do mind. number one. Number two, your sales force, when you invite them to dress up nicely, it boosts their confidence. And when they’re confident they would be able to portray a better image, they would be able to bring a different type of roar positive, convincing energy to the audience to the prospect that they are pitching to. So that is very important. So number one stage one clarity on the part of the employer, the service provider, and also the onboarding or the candidate. From clarity, we move on to mastery, once we are clear with what we are going to sell with ourselves how to dress up confidently how to know some virtual business advocates, we move on to mastery. Now what is mastery? This is the part here where As for myself, one of the things that I really appreciate even though it may come up wrongly, one of the things I really appreciate out of this COVID situation is that it has allowed us to operate around the world where I’m able to speak to people in South Africa, I’m able to speak to people in Germany, in Shanghai, China, in Hong Kong, and Singapore without me needing to be there. And because of that I’m able to work with clients on these certain topics that are meant for their sales team. Number one, virtual persuasion. Very important. How do you persuade your customers online? And this could include how do you present your slides? How do you control your voice intonation, how do you tell better stories to your customers real stories, real impact? All right. So that’s number one, virtue persuasion. Number two, key account management.

Michael Teoh Su Lim
It’s one of those areas that I really love. Because oftentimes people are saying, Michael, depending on our industry, sometimes it’s so hard to get new clients to agree to a Microsoft Teams meeting to agree to a WebEx meeting to agree on a zoom meeting because because they don’t know us. And then my suggestion to these people as well. Work with your existing clients. And working with your existing client here means how do you assess your existing accounts? Your clients as in accounts, right? How do you observe them I love to use the word observe Pooja, not upset observe. There’s no point of that word. Actually.

Pooja Kumar
I’m gonna say I’m gonna use that. I love that word.

Michael Teoh Su Lim
All right, excellent. Yay. And so you know, you heard it from me. Thank you, thank you Pooja. So, I would prefer observe what an upsell because upsells I’m trying to push you something but observe is I’m thinking how I can add value to you. So look at your existing accounts. Ask yourself, how can you observe them, even if you can’t observe them, have to catch up with them? Ask them for referrals, ask them for recommendations. I mean, to be honest with you, Pooja, everyone, you’re either doing well, or you’re doing not too well. And I believe one thing that this pandemic has done right for us, it has basically brought out the humanitarian side of many people. So if you could go to your clients and said, Hey, I need some help. Can you help me? Would you happen to know someone that would make use of our products and services? I’m not surprised if they would help you. Okay, I’m not surprised at all right. So from clarity to mastery. Lastly, as part of the onboarding process, we need sustainability. Now, what is sustainability here? My advice to all my clients is, zoom fatigue is real. So you can’t have them logging in daily at 8:30am, doing a sales rally, and then send them off, they will get sick of it. What you need to do though, as a company is to invest a little bit into enriching their lifestyle healthy Lee, what do I mean enriching their lifestyle healthy Lee invest into programs that would expose your sales team on managing their stress on focusing on positive things on being mindful, this is so important. This is the ecosystem that we have designed for our clients. We help you to gain more clarity for yourself and your team. We help your team to master certain skills that can help in the New Age of selling online. And we help your team manage their motivation and sustain their momentum by giving them access to experts that could guide them in their emotional and intelligence management. There you go. Those would be the framework that I would share.

Pooja Kumar
I love that framework. And I and I will tell you, having been in the industry for a while. Oh, by the way, being in sales enablement for a while, I think most people focus when onboarding on the mastering piece. And, and that is important, but I think you’re absolutely right, the clarity and I like how you broke clarity down the clarity, and understanding themselves as well as so understanding the solution understanding themselves as well as boosting their confidence can lead them to dress up, boost their confidence that’s so important in the virtual world, actually, as many people kind of run out of roll out of bed to bed jobs, not quite. But you know what I mean? The mastery is important. I think everyone’s got it. But the sustainability is a piece that I think we miss quite quite nicely, actually. So that’s a very nice tip. Thank you.

Michael Teoh Su Lim
Pooja, I would like to share a story with you. I just posted this on my LinkedIn. So you can find me on like Michael to sulayem on LinkedIn, but I would like to read through this story, since you talked about a lot of sales onboarding process is always focused on the mastery, not so much in the sustainability and the clarity. Let me read for you a story and I just wrote about this eight hours ago on my LinkedIn today. So all of you, Michael to sulim. So the story goes, it starts with the question. Are you a perfectionist? Some may say no. Some may say yes. A person with a perfectionist mindset would often have these statements lingering in their minds. For example, if you are not with me, you are against me, so and so is all good or all bad only because this wasn’t a complete success. It is a total failure. Now did you know Pooja and all of you listening and watching right now, perfectionists are often regarded as having a psychological imbalance called exaggerated thinking patterns were in most of their mindset. They only believe it’s all or nothing. My question is, does this mindset still service at a time of this pandemic, where people are wanting and yearning for more empathy, kindness and thoughtfulness. This is when the real story comes in. Recently, I was invited to speak to 600 sales executives of a huge multinational company during their annual sales rally. Before my 90 minutes talk on virtual persuasion and building a trustable online brand. One of their regional managers took the stage like Tony Robbins full of energy, he jive the crowd, he was motivational. He was powerful. He was inspirational. Until the last few statements he said and I quote. Now it is do or die. If you cannot break your sales record for us this quarter. We shall wait for your resignation. If you cannot sell during these tough times. You are a failure not only to us, but you failed your family. Whoa. I understand he’s using the pressure cooker. technique to hype up the crowd. But are you sure such a technique still works during this time of COVID? crowd? Yeah, yeah. So I’ll just read to you, we’re coming to the end right here, the crowds, enthusiasm died instantly became dead silent. And as I was waiting in queue for my talk, I got a text from the top management of this multinational company that reads, Michael, please help us save the day. You need to re motivate my people. Forget about your virtual persuasion talk. Just motivate them again, after my regional manager. What do you think you are a perfectionist without you even knowing, especially during this challenging times? A story from my LinkedIn.

Pooja Kumar
Did you manage to turn that around?

Michael Teoh Su Lim
I hope so I did. I mean, all the the chat boxes were buzzing during my talk. So yay. But like my entire presentation, I had no slides that I had to just present just like that, you know, out out from the sincerity of my heart, and I had to help that manager recover as well. I have to paint, I have to get them to empathize with what he was trying to do. So that was an interesting experience.

Pooja Kumar
Yeah, maybe you can teach me a few tips on how

Michael Teoh Su Lim
to discuss that. Anything for you.

Pooja Kumar
But it is but it is actually it’s it’s a story that is it’s common, right? Everyone is under pressure. Everyone’s under the pump. And especially in sales teams. And it’s hard to remember that people perform when you are coaching them, you’re helping them explore their potential. So So that’s, that’s a great story. Thank you for sharing it. And it’s an interesting thing about a you’re a perfectionist, and I wonder if how many people how many of us, who are perfectionist at the moment are really struggling with that because of perfection. And today?

Michael Teoh Su Lim
Yeah, I mean, that story is a symbol that, you know, at onboarding, your sales, talent is no longer limited to just the mastery part. I mean, that person was just trying to tell his sales team be a master in your craft. But now we know sustainability is very important taking care of the emotions of your sales teams, right? Yeah.

Pooja Kumar
And it is it’s critical and something that we need to incorporate more and more within onboarding, especially. And I know that not everyone is struggling with COVID. As much as we are in Asia Pacific, some countries have come out of it. But the mental mindset, the hips that it has taken is is still, you know, still lingering. And I think I think it’s important for everyone to remember. Okay, look, we’ve covered a lot today, you’ve given us some amazing tips. I would love to talk to you for another, you know, we can go on all day. We could talk for another four hours, but I don’t think our audience is going to be interested. Okay, well, to stay on. Yeah. So thank you for sharing the best part. Is this something that we should have covered? that we haven’t, that you’d like to share?

Michael Teoh Su Lim
Well, that’s actually a very interesting question. Because, you know, I would say this a lot more I could cover, I will just say I am extending an open invitation. I just shared that I’m on LinkedIn. So for those of you who are listening to this right now, for those of you who are watching, one key word to sum it all up networking, we need to be networking for you to get new prospects, new customers in the new normal in the New Age of post pandemic. We also need the network to get new insights, new knowledge, and perhaps to get new case studies of how others have done it so that we can learn and improve on our sales force as well. So having said that, I am keen to network with all of you with only one criteria. If you add me on LinkedIn, be sure to tell me, where did you find me, and I will be most happy if you have written. You found me through pujas interview today. So again, networking, yeah. Happy to network. Thank you, Pooja.

Pooja Kumar
Thank you, Michael. And everyone. If you’re listening, I will promise you that if you are just connected with Michael, it’s like his LinkedIn, he puts in so much content that will help everyone think differently and work differently. So thank you for joining us today, Michael, and sharing all of these insights. I’d love to have you back on because I think that we’ve just scratch the surface, that surface of engaging the millennial workforce. I know that you have a lot more to share. But let’s, let’s do that again soon sometime. 3d. Thank you, everybody. Bye. Take care. Bye