A multigenerational sales team can span as many as five generations. Some are fresh out of college, some are middle-aged, still others are nearing retirement. Having people who were born between the 1920s and the 1990s in one team creates the potential for creativity and innovation, but also for conflict and misunderstanding. Does the same friction appear when it comes to multigenerational selling?
According to Symmetrics Group research1, in 2017 Gen X buyers represented 50%, while Baby Boomers and Millennials accounted for 34% and 18% respectively. This leads to the conclusion that sales professionals more often than not are likely to sell to someone from a generation different from their own. 66% of these same survey participants responded that generational differences ‘Sometimes,’ ‘Often,’ or ‘Always’ cause hassled within their sales process.
In the face of the above, it is crucial to understand what different experiences and perspectives provide, depending on the generation. In order to gain insight into how best to gain trust and manage the relationship with the buyers, it is necessary to recognize what motivates them and what influences their decision-making process. So, what exactly are Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers, and Millennial buyers looking for?
First of all, it is important to understand the change that has occurred in communicating value to customers. Not even two decades ago, sales professionals engaged with prospects and communicated value to them directly. They engaged in cold-calling and found it easy to strike up conversation with an unknown or unsuspecting buyer. The change came with the onset of the Internet, which has become a way of communicating with a huge number of potential buyers. Online presence started to be indicative of professionalism, especially when buyers were comparing one company with another. Now, before delivering anything to prospects, one needs to become a recognized digital persona, which demonstrates a level of expertise and thus inspires trust.