When are Salespeople Too Old to Sell Effectively? 10 Conditions

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Dave Kurlan is a top-rated speaker, best-selling author, sales thought leader and highly regarded sales development expert.

the beach boysFirst, let’s acknowledge that EEOC guidelines in the US demand that you not discriminate against candidates based on age (40 and older), gender (non-males), race (non-Caucasians) or disability (Americans with Disability Act). This article isn’t about that, but I wanted to make sure that I put that out there before going any further.

Last night, we attended a concert in Boston. On stage, 5 guys in their 70’s, backed up by a younger show band, played and sang the songs made popular by a group of teenagers about 50 years ago. When we closed our eyes, they pulled it off. They sounded the same, perhaps better than the teenagers! With eyes open, they demonstrated the same energy and showed that they really enjoyed performing and recreating that sound. The only things different – and I mean the only thing – were the wrinkles and sags on their faces and bags under their eyes.

I’m referring to the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Reunion Concert and it was a terrific show.

When it’s time to recruit salespeople, many clients have told me that they want a “less mature, more energetic, and fit” salesperson – code for “younger”.

Like the Beach Boys, who can still pull it off with ease, salespeople can still pull it off with ease as they age, well into their 70’s, as long as the following ten conditions exist:

  1. They have the same energy.
  2. They have the same work ethic.
  3. They retain the same motivation and urgency to succeed.
  4. They continue to enjoy selling.
  5. They have adapted to the changes of the past 5-10 years, including selling consultatively, using technology and working harder.
  6. They are fine being held accountable to a potentially younger sales manager/sales leader.
  7. They interviewed well.
  8. They are still quick on their feet.
  9. The OMG Sales Candidate Assessment has recommended them.
  10. They have prior success doing what you need them to do.

The interesting thing about this list of conditions is that it’s not age-specific and should be used with all salespeople. If they can still generate new revenue for your business, why would you care if their skin is wrinkled? If the choice is between a performer with wrinkles and a smooth-skinned pretender, the choice should be a no-brainer.

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