polished-stonesSales organizations need to engage the next generation of rainmakers.

When a Millennial told me about texting her boyfriend to say she loved him, I looked at her in disbelief and asked, “You’re texting ‘I love you’?” She explained that she had been at a conference and couldn’t call him, so she texted a romantic message instead.

Boomer that I am, I couldn’t help but wonder why she didn’t just wait until the break to actually use her phone the way it was meant to be used—to have a real conversation. To hear him laugh or sigh as she said those three little words with true emotion, not emoticons, is the type of glue that keeps relationships strong.

Of course, Millennials grew up immersed in text messages and emails. So it’s completely logical that many of them prefer communicating digitally rather than talking in person. I get the appeal. Millennials know technology backwards and forwards. They don’t have to learn how to use it. It’s part of who they are—which makes them naturals at digital selling.

The Next Generation of Rainmakers

Jason Wesbecher, CEO of Docket, explores this issue in his blog post “Can Millennials Sell?” and makes the case for why younger reps can be great at inside sales. He writes:

Truly great salespeople create their own content—tweets, blog posts, LinkedIn updates, Instagram photos—and they comment on and share the content of like-minded folks in their industry. What generation is better suited to engage customers in this fashion than millennials? They have been living online for the last half-decade creating their personal brands. They implicitly embrace the idea of sharing. The idea of creating a personal brand and sharing it is largely foreign to the Gen X salesperson. (Read the rest of the article.)

So what does this mean for sales organizations and sales managers? How can they engage and recruit these digital selling superstars? By remembering Millennials tend to march to the beat of a different drum than their seasoned colleagues. Wesbecher explains:

The other thing that millennials have going for them is their belief system. They tend to be a highly principled lot, who have the capacity to get extraordinarily focused on the cause. This could be wage inequality or antibiotic-free meats or clean drinking water. Or it could be your product or the mission of your company. Some of the best salespeople I have ever met share a common trait: their unwavering, unflinching, blinding belief in what they are selling. You simply can’t sell something effectively if you don’t believe in it. Millennials have the ability to believe and believe hard. The trick as an employer is to take the time to explain why they should believe. Why is this problem that we solve so important? And why are we uniquely capable of solving it for the world? Articulate that to your millennial sales team and watch them soar. (Read the rest of the article.)

What About the Rest of Us?

I completely agree that sales organizations should focus on hiring, training, coaching, and retaining Millennials—tapping into the innate talents these digital natives bring to the table. But does that mean sales reps over age 30 are becoming obsolete?

Absolutely not. Boomers and Gen Xers have our own strengths. We are just as capable of embracing new technology and thriving in online sales. We just have to work a little harder at it. For more on what it takes for seasoned sales professionals to succeed in the digital age, check out my LinkedIn Publisher post, “You Don’t Have to Be a Millennial to Top the Social Media Charts.”

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