Millennial expectations, values, and skill sets are changing the American workplace, redefining the way we work, and putting pressure on businesses to adapt if they are going to remain competitive in recruiting and operational performance.
Most entrepreneurs see the millennial connection to relatively new fields like digital marketing, and to entry-level positions, and internships, but an interesting trend we’re seeing is how millennials are shaping the world of sales, in particular.
For starters, millennials represent a growing percentage of the workforce.
By 2020, it’s estimated that they’ll represent 46% of professionals in the U.S., so understanding their perspectives, behaviors, and traits will help businesses attract better recruits and work closely with millennial leaders of other companies.
Additionally, millennials are finding new ways to approach sales, mostly drawn from newer technologies, which can make sales strategies more effective.
There are three primary defining traits of millennials that are changing how companies are approaching the sales process:
1. Familiarity with technology and data analysis.
First, and most importantly, millennials tend to be more familiar and more comfortable with technology than generations past. They’ve grown up in a world connected by the internet, and they aren’t afraid to tap into that power for their own ends.
That means they have faster access to large streams of information, and they are more willing to adapt to new software, new devices, and other new developments that could give them an edge in the sales field.
Millennials have grown up used to working with large volumes of information, which makes them more capable of data analysis, and drawing conclusions from large libraries of information.
In a field like sales, where performance depends on the skillful interpretation of existing data sets, this makes millennials indispensable.
As an added bonus, training millennials on new technology doesn’t take long—in fact, they might be the ones training you.
2. Independent mindsets.
Say what you will about the implications of this trait, but millennials have also grown up with more independent, sometimes stubborn mindsets.
Some would argue that this makes millennials entitled and arrogant, while others see it as a strength, encouraging millennials to demand more social justice and social responsibility from corporations, and being more willing to pursue new ideas than to follow traditional models.
3. Flexibility in communication.
Millennials have different communication preferences than other generations, usually relying on more advanced or newer forms of technology.
Roughly 73%of millennials prefer email as their primary mode of communication, compared to phone calls or in-person meetings, due to email’s speed, trackability, and its ability to grant its users forethought when speaking.
Accordingly, there are a handful of strategic developments we’re seeing emerging from companies in response to these millennial traits.
Data and Prospect Targeting
It’s already a best practice for salespeople to narrow the field and target only the most relevant candidates as prospects, but millennials make this approach even more effective, thanks to their reliance on mass quantities of objective information.
They’re using big data, and platforms like Unomy to gather more sophisticated data sets on their prospective targets and form better, more in-depth conclusions about their spending habits, demographic makeup, and psychology.
With that data in hand, they’re able to make pinpointed strategic decisions, spending their time more efficiently and resulting in better performance as a department.
The flip side of this is the amount of time and experience it takes; sales professionals will often spend more time researching sales targets than actually selling, but it often yields better results in the long term.
Companies are also starting to pick up on millennials’ communication habits, adopting better platforms for streamlining the sales process and keeping sales team members in contact with one another.
Arguably, this is more important for big companies than it is for startups and small businesses, but it’s a direct result of millennials’ messaging preferences.
Millennials are also introducing more elements of adaptability into the sales force.
Because they are used to the rapid evolution of technology, they don’t mind learning new software, updating old approaches, or experimenting with new techniques.
Rather than seeing sales as a traditional model that should be implemented as a step-by-step process, they see sales as a fluid evolution of different moving parts, changing as they gain more information about the business and its prospects.
This makes millennials capable of handling more complex challenges that arise in response to new technologies, especially when they use data to guide their next decisions.
How Should Businesses Respond?
The most successful companies of the future are going to be the ones best capable of harnessing advanced technology.
That means business owners will need to recruit more millennial talent, or at least learn from their ability to handle mass volumes of information, to remain competitive.
This influx of millennial talent will further evolve the American workplace, as I covered in a previous article.
It’s time for businesses to adopt new platforms that give more detailed data about their sales prospects, step up recruiting, and start welcoming new perspectives in data analysis, communication, and adaptability.
Not only will this enable businesses to attract better staff members to their sales teams, they’ll become forward-thinking sales leaders within their industries—and they’ll close more deals because of