Generation Z is Coming, with Skills that will Surprise You... and Your Buyers

By Kelsey Peusch

What sounds as ominous as a Game of Thrones catchphrase or foreboding as a Brad Pitt Zombie reboot might be a blessing for corporations that will soon be forced to navigate a new set of rules to prime the next generation for the sales roles of those on the road to retirement. 

By our research, the oldest members of Generation Z are 18 years old (born in 2001 or after). Their story is yet to be fully written, but societal norms have shifted so significantly in the past 5 to 10 years that their impact on this next generation will likely be significant. From Washington’s partisan politicking and Hollywood’s #MeToo Movement to the power of social influencers, Generation Z exquisitely balances the need to be unique with that of being highly empathetic. Vulnerability is becoming a badge of honor, and authenticity seems to trump all else. Let’s take a deeper look to better understand how these influences are molding the next generation of highly empathetic sellers and thought leaders.

Spoiler alert – there is a lot more good than bad!

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Top 3 Generational Takeaways for B2B Selling, from a Soon-to-be Sidelined Millennial

By Kelsey Peusch

It was the title of the Bloomberg article that first struck me as I scanned my daily Google alert email - Gen Z is Set to Outnumber Millennials Within a Year. For a moment I felt sad and then forgotten as I considered my own generation slipping into the abyss. Dramatic – I know, but the reality is (was) that Millennials were once the focus and had been for as long as I could remember. Who are they? What made them this way? How will their behaviors impact the way we engage with them in a B2B selling environment? As I contemplated the seemingly premature death of the generational spotlight, a sentiment I’m sure every generation that has come before mine can appreciate, I started to grapple with what this meant to ME...

For the past several years my colleagues, and I, have spent countless hours asking ourselves these questions. We wrote a book about The Multigenerational Sales Team, have published 13 blog posts on the topic, and have been discussing generational impacts on sales at events like the Dreamforce Conference, on podcasts like Quotable, and with a variety of clients globally over the past 18 months. Generational considerations are one of several lenses with which we view sales effectiveness. While the book explores each generation, the impetus and focus always tied back to Millennials – a generation which is set to exceed 75% of the workforce by 2020 (Brookings Institution).

Once I got past the fact that the key differentiator between Gen Z and Millennials was a keen sense of self-awareness versus self-centeredness (rude, though 100% accurate based on my reaction outlined above), I started to think less about what it meant to me and more broadly about how this changes our approach for preparing organizations for the next generation of sellers and buyers.

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Jockeying for Sales Talent in a Job Shopping World

By Per Torgersen

4.6, 4.5, 4.3, 4.2, 4.1.  These may look like judges’ scores in an athletic competition, but these figures actually represent a sampling of recent US unemployment percentages, which have been steadily declining for some time.  The most recent unemployment rate of 4.1% is the lowest in 17 years.  While this is encouraging for job seekers, it is worrisome for employers seeking to attract and retain strong sales talent to hit their revenue targets.

Headlines like these…

“Employer’s Hustle to Retain Job-Hopping Workers”

“Companies Seeing a Significant Increase in Employee Turnover Rates”

“US Workforce Expected to Experience Massive Shift” (thousands of baby boomers retiring daily)

… are forcing employers to re-think their attraction and retention strategies.

For those wanting to attract employees with bachelor’s degrees or Millennials, the situation is even worse, with unemployment for college grads only at 2.0% as of October 2017, and Millennials (and now Generation Z) coming into the labor market with very different expectations regarding their jobs and careers than previous generations.

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Impressions from a Quick Visit to Dreamforce

By Warren Shiver

In a word: Wow! I hadn’t attended Dreamforce (DF) since 2010, and I think it has tripled in attendance. Seems like DF must suck up all of the A/V production capacity in the Bay Area. How great it is to have 170k people pay to be sold to by (SF) and the partner ecosystem and brand themselves with DF swag. Great business model – I’m certainly envious.

I had the pleasure of speaking during the conference at the Quotable Sales Summit in support of our book, The Multigenerational Sales Team.

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Social Selling: Is it for Everyone?

By Erica Abt

Organizations across the globe are changing their sales & marketing strategies because of a fundamental shift in the buying process: access to information. Research shows that, on average, B2B customers are 57% of the way through the buying process and have consulted 10+ sources before engaging a sales person. [1] As a result, sales leaders are buying into the idea that “consumers increasingly use social media to inform their buying decisions” and that “social media has evolved from a marketing channel into a powerful lead generation and sales pipeline tool.” [2] 

While there is no question that social media can be an effective marketing channel, I began to wonder: who is really driving the demand for Social Selling, and is it the right channel to invest in for all customers?

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Cross-Generational Impacts in Sales: Ignore At Your Own Risk

By Warren Shiver

In merely eight years -- by 2025 -- 75% of the workforce will be Millennials.

As a sales leader, does this sound anecdotal or material to you? 

Before you answer the question, consider these real scenarios that play out today and will continue at an increasing frequency:

  • A 31-year-old sales professional calling on a 58-year-old decision maker
  • A 55-year-old sales professional calling on a 34-year-old decision maker
  • A 60-year-old sales leader coaching a 24-year-old seller
  • A 32-year-old sales manager recruiting a 50-year-old seller

A sea change is underway in the generational makeup of our workforce that causes undeniable friction between people. Yet, very little (if anything) has been written about the implications between sellers and buyers and amongst sales teams.

The impacts of Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers, and Millennials co-mingling in selling situations will be more palpable and frequent than ever.

Quotable, a digital magazine and podcast published by Salesforce, just interviewed David Szen and myself on our recently published book, The Multigenerational Sales Team.  In it, hosts Kevin Micalizzi and Tiffani Bova ask us several central questions about the impact of generational differences on sales leaders, sales teams, and buyer-seller dynamics.

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Your Buyer’s Age – It’s More Than Just a Number: Part 2

By Kelsey Peusch

In Part I of this blog series, we explored the case for change, highlighting how generational diversity impacts a seller’s ability to connect with buyers from generations different than their own. This blog investigates how recent market and demographic shifts, such as the internet and generational differences amongst buyers, have created new dynamics in today's B2B buying process.

What specifically are Baby Boomers, Gen X-ers, and Millennial buyers looking for and how does a seller adjust?

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Your Buyer's Age - It's More Than Just A Number (Part I)

By Kelsey Peusch

As Millennials start climbing the ranks, decision-making authority is shifting toward the workforce’s youngest generation.  In the meantime, Generation X-ers take personal risks to establish a foothold in middle and upper management, while Baby Boomers cling to a management style marked by bureaucratic decision making. This changing of the guard is to be expected, but understanding generational nuances of buyers will be critical to ensure that the influences of age do not leave sellers at a disadvantage.

In our recent blog post, Why Leaders Are Failing At Managing Their Generationally Diverse Sales Teams, we explored how generational differences influence what attracts a seller to a new job versus what drives them away from a current one. In this post, we begin exploring generational differences amongst buyers and particularly, what happens when sellers sell across generations.

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Why Leaders Are Failing At Managing Their Generationally Diverse Sales Teams

By Erica Abt

Have you ever heard an experienced sales manager complain about the “young sellers” on their team who demand inordinate attention and TLC, lack accountability, and quickly jump ship to a new and exciting roles elsewhere?

The topic of Millennials and their prevalence in the work place is not uncommon and while many seasoned professionals complain about their insurgence, I rarely hear of helpful tips or useful recommendations of how to successfully manage these “odd creatures”.

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Sales Coaching Collision – Old School Meets New School

By David Szen

At a recent workshop I engaged in a conversation involving three parties, each from a different generation. Representing Generation X, I approached a Baby Boomer Sales Manager and a Millennial Seller discussing the ideal amount of activities required to fill out a “robust” pipeline. It quickly became clear that the Manager did not feel that the Seller was getting in front of enough prospects.

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