Residential Magazine

Psst… You’re Probably Motivating Millennials the Wrong Way

The up-and-coming generation can produce many superstar originators

By Leslie Heimer

What makes today’s sales team tick? How are you motivating the next generation of sales superstars? You are probably dropping the ball, unfortunately.

Motivating and encouraging a sales team seems black and white. Big commissions, fast cars and expensive watches. That kind of stuff, right? Well, maybe. Building a high-performance team that can sustain above average productivity in today’s market requires you to dig deeper.

Millennials (adults in their mid-30s and younger) are taking on more and more responsibility in the workforce, including on your sales team. Motivating this generation today requires a different approach than what was used to motivate workers in the early 2000s. Let’s take a look at what you can do to add to the drive and motivation for the rising stars in the mortgage-origination industry.

What you offer

Sales managers for today’s up-and-coming production teams are truly in the right place at the right time. They may be older than their millennial colleagues, but they are young enough to embrace technology, appreciate the directness of a text over the niceties a phone call requires and understand how Instagram works.

Generally, they strike the perfect balance between maintaining personal client relationships, building meaningful rapport with referral partners and understanding software integrations that add efficiencies to the process. Or to put it another way, they are dynamic enough to pivot and adapt to technological revolutions, but still tenured enough to have some real experience and life lessons under their belts.

Mentoring your teams through this lens can be powerful, specifically in an industry where training can be tough. When is the last time you read, listened to or participated in a training program that accurately depicted precisely what is going to happen with your next file — from application to funding? It went like clockwork, right? Wrong.

In the mortgage business, there are so many humans involved in the process that there are bound to be un-expected surprises and detours during the life cycle of the financing process. Navigating this curvy line from A to B calls for a highly complex training manual. As importantly, it requires critical problem-solving skills.

This is an area where millennials can struggle. Millennials who were born and raised on apps may have a tougher time with cognitive reasoning and creative strategies to overcome pitfalls with client files. This is an important role that sales managers and mentors can model for younger loan officers in today’s mortgage industry.

You can help train millennials to handle the unexpected. But how do you reach those millennial sales people?

What they want

To nurture a consistent sales engine, examine the dynamics of the individuals involved. Studies show that sales people (and the most effective leaders for that matter) have a higher than average emotional intelligence, also known as EI.

In 2015, the Harvard Business Review analyzed this notion in a report called “Dismantling the Sales Machine.” The report called for allowing creative sales professionals with high EI to use disruptive insights based on the individual judgements.

You see, it’s not always about incentive bonuses and monetary rewards. At the root of the high-performing sales professional is more than just financial stability or the occasional gold star. They want to be empowered.

The luxury lifestyle and financial achievements are simply a symptom of sales success. What intrinsically drives your millennial superstar performers is personal fulfillment and the opportunity to be part of a brand where they have a voice.

Today’s modern millennial often cares about the environment, equal opportunities and desires life experiences — such as travel and food — over monetary perks. Many poke fun that millennials grew up in a time full of participation awards where everyone gets a trophy. They are not wired for competition the way their predecessors were and may find the concept of one singular top producer uncomfortable and would rather see everyone succeed and win.

The 2016 Millennial Impact Report, which was based on three surveys, found millennials would like to see a culture and workplace that is less divisive and more accommodating of different views, socioeconomic backgrounds and positions. Millennials tend to make an effort to educate themselves about causes that spark their interest and are naturally inclined to share what they have learned with their peers, even those that are seemingly in a competing role. They tend to avoid confrontation and are less assertive to influence change or press someone to take a direction that the individual did not self-select.

For millennials, doing good is a lifestyle, the norm and a fundamental part of their identity. It is often expressed by signing petitions, volunteering for causes, connecting with each other on social media platforms and acting within their own circles to bring about change.

• • •

Millennials fundamentally want to elevate an organization, add value and inspire others. They do not wait until a midlife crisis to understand the meaning of life, like many would argue is symptomatic of the previous baby boomer generation.

Millennials want to impact change now and see that as part of their everyday lifestyle. They want to add value to their communities and represent a brand that aligns with their core values.


  • Leslie Heimer

    Leslie Heimer is the relationship manager for American Liberty Mortgage in Orlando, Florida. A sixth-generation Central Florida native, Heimer provides a high-touch lending experience in the Florida branch offices for the nationwide lending company. She has earned a spot on National Mortgage Professional Magazine’s “Mortgage Banking’s Most Powerful Women” list and has been featured in the Orlando Business Journal for her community-relations efforts, in addition to her entrepreneurial spirit. 

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