Are Millennials wired but not to sell?


Share on LinkedIn

I was speaking with a salesperson in his 60s who regularly outsells many of his younger peers. He complained to me that the younger sales people at his company do not hustle and are lacking a work ethic.

A sales manager noted to me that the industriousness of salespeople was diminished as you moved westward from the US east coast.

Do Millennials lack motivation to sell or is it the skill set that is lacking?

Milliennials or the Generation Y are those born between the early 1980s and early 2000s (there no consensus on the precise date range).

A recent article published by the Wall Street Journal points out that Millennials are averse to using the phone for sales.

The article “Bosses say ‘Pick up the Phone’” describes how a publisher, frustrated with the poor results from her Millennial sales staff, hired a consultant to teach sales people how to use the phone for sales and avoid pitching via email.

The Millennial cohort is recognized as being the most wired generation in history having cut their chops on the PC and mobile devices. An example close to home: in his early years, my son was struggling at school with reading. In frustration, he would pull me over to his PC to help read the instructions. Over time his reading took off. Curiously, I can credit Minecraft with pushing my son to read better: his friends would chat with him on Minecraft and peer pressure forced him to improve his reading and typing.

Given their proficiency in email and chat, it is Darwinian that Millennials have evolved to prefer digital communication and avoid rejection over the phone. (Are Millennials likely to break up relationships with email or chat?)

In the blog post Sales Skills: 18 Skills Every Salesperson Should Master, Scott Albro points out that the huge change in buyer behavior has rocked the sales profession. Scott includes phone skills as one of the 18 key skills for the new salesperson. The phone is key for many of the skills listed such as ‘Understand what the buyer wants’, ‘Demonstrate subject matter expertise’ and ‘Tell really compelling stories’.

The phone has a renewed importance in the sales communication mix. Rushed buyers dictate that phone meetings often replace in-person meetings. Using email or chat to engage or probe buyers is clearly not as effective as the phone or face-to-face meetings.

Although a Millennial may frown upon the phone as a business tool, it has never been more relevant as a key tool for the salesperson to meet the needs of the new buyer and to achieve their sales goals. Sales management needs to recognize that what seems like a basic skill set may be a critical gap for many Millennials.

P.S. I have included below highlights from the 100 comments on the WSJ article “Bosses say ‘Pick up the Phone’” that were registered online. Do you sell ugly babies? Check out Jack Derby’s comment below.

Millennial phoneEmail Misinterpreted

Millennial phone 3 baby ugly

Millennial phone 4 baby ugly

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Robert Lesser
I am the founder and President of Direct Impact Marketing, a provider of a sales productivity solution and consulting services to technology organizations. Prior to stepping out as an entrepreneur, I held a number of marketing positions at Dell, IBM, Reckitt Benckiser and Loblaw Companies.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here