Mind the Generational Gap
"Oftentimes, I find [that] a young sales rep I'm working with will send multiple emails prior to picking up the phone. [...] It exposes a fear of the telephone," Farquharson pointed out.
He stated, nevertheless, that both age groups commit a common mistake: a low-quality sales call.
"In other words, they are 'selling printing' instead of solving problems. If you're not saying anything of value, it matters little how you are saying it or how old you are as a sales rep," Farquharson explained. "Customers will sit up and pay attention to a message that is relevant to them."
Kollmann agreed that not listening to the prospective buyer is the biggest mistake shared by both generations.
"There are excellent salespeople with stellar listening skills in every generation. For those who could sharpen their listening skills, what seems to vary between generations is why they're not listening," she said. "Boomers proclaim experience; Gen Xers are used to thinking independently, so while the buyer is telling their story, the Xer already has jumped ahead to the close without taking into account what they're really being told."
So what's the most effective approach? A personal style that incorporates technology is the best way to reach all potential buyers, and salespeople must be ready to adjust to the needs of different buyers. For Farquharson, it's not a complicated problem to solve.
He offered the following advice. "I would ask the client early on: 'What is your preferred method of communication?'"
Abbett agreed that the buyer controls how he or she will be sold to, and the best salespeople are those who know how to get a response.
"A sales pro using technology has a better chance of reaching a buyer. Anyone using every method possible to communicate is staying relevant. Having a LinkedIn page is great exposure and the first thing I do is Google a prospect to learn more about their business before contacting them," Abbett noted.