They’re in their early 20s. They’re your most junior salespeople. They may, in fact, not even have closed a sale yet. But they’ve grown up in the connected sales age and, boy, do they intuitively know a thing or two about successful connected selling techniques:
Being in the right place, at the right time, and talking to the right people: It’s what helps make a sale and it demands a lot of flexibility and travel. The big difference today is:
This is the first generation that doesn’t automatically think car when they think mobility. For them, mobile phones have replaced cars as the primary status symbol of freedom: they let you connect with people and resources, and exchange experiences and ideas from anywhere.
That’s why the app generation doesn’t necessarily require an office to work or tend to think of travel time as downtime - they expect to be able to work while travelling. And they demand mobile access to the same kind of sales tools they have on their desktop for:
• Updating opportunities (you get that real-time view)
• Logging activities while on the road (might as well do it right away)
• Using knowledge resources when at a client’s (you might lose them if you have to go back to the office for the answer).
One of the biggest challenges in sales has always been establishing a personal and meaningful connection with a prospect. That’s still true – but the tools for doing it have evolved.
People who have grown up with social networks are native at using them for any kind of relationship – private or business. It’s second nature to them to research people they don’t know and hoover up their online profiles for insight. They go to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter (and industry-specific networks) for prospects'
• Job titles and exact responsibilities
• Areas of expertise
• Main professional pain points
• Connections within and without the industry
• Personal interests and lifestyle
At the same time, young people working in a client-facing role like sales instinctively know that their own network profile is their private and professional brand identity – and tend to invest time in maintaining it.
All these things are hugely valuable: not in themselves, but because they enable you to stand out when establishing a relationship with a prospect. It’s the kind of information that can help you get past the gatekeepers and talk to the decision-makers. And young people feel there’s nothing intrusive about it: prospects know that profile information and relationships are public and they appreciate to see that a contact has made the effort to connect with them on a personal level.
Knowing all about the product you’re selling: it’s what used to make sales the go-to people for prospects. Today’s customers are channel-agnostic. They get information from everywhere (websites, brochures, recommendations from friends and family, as well as sales), but information alone is not enough anymore – they look for relevance.
Young salespeople often have a similar approach to their job. They think of knowledge less as something you own and keep to yourself - and more as a sales tool you need to know how to access and filter. That’s why they
• Naturally use their own networks to crowdsource advice: they proactively ask for recommendations on things they have little experience with or want to know about
• Embrace job knowledge bases and contribute to them, knowing that sharing knowledge will give them something in return
• Understand the importance of relevance: If you’ve ever experienced personalisation done badly, you’ll know that nothing makes people click away (or hang up) faster. And that’s why the new generation does a lot of pre-contact research to get to know each prospect – and get their conversation openers, questions, and information packages right.
The older generation of salespeople has the benefit of experience. The young ones have the feel for the connected selling age. If we give both groups the right sales tools to connect with each other, their resources, AND their customers, we’re in for the most exciting era of sales yet: relevant conversations, lasting relationships, customised solutions, and ultimately, happier customers and better sales. Or simply, connected sales.