Mind the Generational Gap
Tensions are brewing in the office. The generation gap continues to widen, and although this isn't West Side Story—with a choreographed musical brawl between Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials (aka Generation Y)—the stage has been set. While younger salespeople might tout the effectiveness of their new technology-driven approaches, face-to-face tactics remain in play for a reason. Scrapping traditional techniques could result in lower sales and would alienate a Baby Boomer clientele.
With both sides digging in their heels, a successful business model must incorporate the strengths of both generations. So while social media might be the elephant in the room for Baby Boomers, and face-to-face meetings seem unnecessarily time-consuming to Generation Y, both have value.
Rebecca Kollmann, MAS+, director of business development at AIA Corporation, Neenah, Wis., believes in the power of relationship building, when done correctly.
"Veteran salespeople who understand that relationships are important can adapt to changes in the print or promotional industry, as long as they take the time to understand what buyers need, how they need it and how to stay relevant," she said.
Kollmann remarked that veteran salespeople will have an advantage over Millennials if they can approach and build relationships with today's diverse group of buyers.
"While a little business may still be done on the golf course, that has faded significantly in the past years," she observed. "Business is done in so many places: virtually, via phone and in-person."
According to Bill Farquharson, president of Duxbury, Massachusetts-based Aspire For, face-to-face selling still has many advantages. And classically trained salespeople have the upper-hand.
"Veteran salespeople understand the value of face-to-face selling. They are much more likely to get out of the office and meet with a client. They have less fear," Farquharson commented.