Every aspect of selling has changed in the last 25 years. In any field where people have to connect with other people, the changes in communication have caused big shifts. For sales professionals, the key is to resist the urge to push back against millennials’ natural tendencies. Instead, let your millennials do their thing.
On today’s episode of The Sales Evangelist, Dr. Michael Solomon discusses the current generation of “digital natives” and how you can let your millennials do their thing.
These digital natives have never known a time without screens, and those screens have become a sort of safety net for the generation. They take for granted that they always have instant access to an entire network of people.
They also rely on constant feedback which leads them to seek frequent validation from the people around them.
Adjust management styles
Millennials, and the generation behind them known as Gen Z, buy everything by committee. Everything is a group decision because they long for validation.
We have to adjust our management styles to cope with that change.
Customers no longer fit neatly into boxes or behind walls. Market segmentation no longer works because everyone has his own preferences.
Standardizing messages is obsolete. It’s tempting because it’s efficient, but millennials want personalization. They don’t want to be nameless cogs: it’s why so many of them want to work for startups.
Pitches must be tailored to their individual needs. We can no longer put a single message out in hopes that it will attract large groups.
Millennials value authenticity and they want to know a company’s values before they get involved.
Embrace their comfort zones
It’s frustrating to stand in front of a group only to discover that they aren’t looking at you because they are on their phones.
Truth is that younger people aren’t comfortable with face-to-face interactions, and they aren’t comfortable with cold-calling. They prefer online interaction, as a result of their digital native heritage.
There’s a temptation to push back against their reliance on devices, but we have to change our style to meet the reality of today’s world. We’re better off trying to leverage their learning style than trying to change it.
That means finding ways to keep them working for you while they’re on their phones.
Rather than discouraging their devices, encourage them to do more outbound work using the platforms they are most comfortable with.
Their peers are more comfortable buying that way, so we’re effectively pushing back against the things that make them more successful if we insist they give up their devices.
We must change our metrics, and seek their feedback in the new ones we establish.
Focus on long-term relationships
For companies that have the luxury to do it, focusing on long-term relationships is a better strategy than short-term success. Relationship selling is about forming bonds that will span the lifetime of a customer even if they don’t result in a sale today.
Zappos, for example, doesn’t incentivize getting off the phone quickly. Their people are encouraged to get off-topic with the customers. The concept is a radical departure from other sales paradigms.
Likewise, the Ikea Effect refers to the tendency people have to value a product more if they helped to build it. The act of assembling the company’s furniture causes customers to feel more strongly about the product.
Focusing on long-term relationships can also help minimize turnover within an organization.
Motivate people to do mundane tasks using elements of games, because that’s how they’ve grown up. Why do they stay so engaged with games? Why do they forget to eat?
Friendly competition, frequent rewards, and non-monetary rewards can prompt people to work hard. Eventually, though, you have to scale the rewards or they’ll get bored with those, too.
“Let Your Millennials Do Their Thing” episode resources
Check out the Video Jungle podcast, which teaches you how to utilize video to stand out from your competition. Plan, create and share your way to better content and strategy. You are a brand, and video can help you set yourself apart.
Our friends at Wiley have provided a free excerpt of the book Stop Selling & Start Leading. Based on research and interviews with buyers, the book provides a blueprint for sales professionals. Read an excerpt of the book here. Grab your copy of the SlideShare.
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