The millennial salesperson challenge insights into intergenerational selling
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Schmidt. School. Professional. Sales. The Millennial Salesperson Challenge: Insights into Intergenerational Selling. Michael Mallin, University of Toledo Ellen Bolman Pullins, University of Toledo Richard Buehrer, University of Toledo Deirdre Jones, University of Toledo

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The millennial salesperson challenge insights into intergenerational selling l.jpg

Schmidt

School

Professional

Sales

The Millennial Salesperson Challenge: Insights into Intergenerational Selling

Michael Mallin, University of Toledo

Ellen Bolman Pullins, University of Toledo

Richard Buehrer, University of Toledo

Deirdre Jones, University of Toledo

Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Problem??

“…more than 40% of the U.S. labor force will reach the traditional retirement age by the end of this decade …”

(“Bye-Bye Boomers”, Wall Street Journal 9/20/05)

“…the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a shortfall of 10 million workers in the U.S. by 2010…”

(United States Bureau of Labor Statistics)

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Solution??

“…now don’t take this personally, but you look awfully young. This project is a big step for our company … shouldn’t we be talking to someone else from your organization?”

Buyer to seller - (2007 National Collegiate Sales Competition Final Role Play)

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Overview

  • Purpose

  • Background

  • Interviews

  • Emergent Themes

  • Implications

  • Applications for Business & Sales Management

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Purpose

  • Better understand the phenomena of IGS

  • What are the key IGS issues ?

  • How do salespeople deal with IGS issues?

  • What are the implications for business owners and sales management?

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Background

  • Existing generational research explores the differences in core values and workplace beliefs/attitudes between the Millennials, Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers

    • Lancaster and Stillman 2003

    • Howe and Strauss 2000

    • Furlanetto et al. 2004

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Background

B-Boomers Gen-Xers Millennials

(1946-1964) (1965-1981) (post 1981)

Core Values

Workplace Beliefs

Historical Events

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Interviews

  • Sample and Data Collection

    • Interviewed 15 Millennial salespeople who graduated with a professional sales BBA from a large public mid-western university

    • Asked for IGS examples, challenges/implications, training received

    • Interviews were tape recorded and transcribed

  • Analysis

    • Qualitative/Thematic

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Theme 1

  • Millennials find it hard to relate to older generations on an interpersonal level

    • “… we had zero in common. When he (the customer) talked of politics or business issues I had no ideas what he was talking about. I felt I was not up to date on the issues that he was most interested in. Small talk was an all time low. The hardest parts were the ‘remember whens’- because you don’t remember when …”

  • Implications

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Theme 2

  • Millennials feel confident that they can sell across generations

    • “I feel equipped to sell to these customers. I do this by being ready to handle any issue they have …Basically, it’s about taking care of the customer’s needs in a very timely manner.”

    • “I handle this like I would with any other client. I introduce myself, conduct a face-to-face meeting to learn about the client’s history and interests …I make myself valuable/credible by sharing my knowledge.”

  • Implications

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Theme 3

  • Millennials See a Positive Side to their Youth and Differences

    • “…for me, it (IGS) is an advantage. Since I have less experience, I am able to ask a lot of questions and make them feel that they are educating me. They seem very willing to help me learn …at the same time, I am able to listen and pick up on (their) problems, issues, and concerns.”

    • “…customers see the fire and enthusiasm that I bring, and they get excited when I am around…”

  • Implications

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Strategy 1

  • A strategy for overcoming generational differences focuses on establishing similarities

    • “…he is very tech-savvy and owns his own internet search engine business. Where we hit it off was that I understood the .com business where other salespeople in the 40’s did not…It was our shared knowledge of technology that bridged the gap…”

    • “…one of my clients in his early 40’s likes to run and bike – I also like to do that. He was easier to crack.”

  • Implications

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Strategy 2

  • A second strategy is to establish credibility

    • “When I go into a call, I come equipped with numbers or data … this tends to make me look more credible in the customer’s eyes …I think that building credibility is a major issue here since we do not have the age and experience.”

    • “…you have to be prepared and show them (the customer) you know the industry…you can’t sound like a kid one year out of college.”

  • Implications

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Strategy 3

  • An alternative strategy focuses on professionalism

    • “…sometimes I feel it is necessary to get right down to business and provide direct information about the business solution.”

    • “…the customer called my presentation ‘professional’ because I grouped their needs and went over each of them one by one. I told them ‘what was in it for them’ and kept it very clear and crisp.”

  • Implications

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Applications

  • Business Owners

    • Better understand the generational differences that exist in the business/workplace environment.

    • Better able to impact employee motivation, retention, and productivity.

  • Managerial

    • Better equip sales managers to prepare, train, develop, and coach Millennial salespeople

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Discussion Question

Please reflect on the intergenerational mix of employees that exists within your business. What is the impact on:

  • Employee Motivation

  • Employee Retention

  • Employee Productivity

  • Employee Promotion/Succession Planning

  • Customer Relationships

  • Any other impact you see as important

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Backup Slides

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Background

  • Sales discrimination and stereotypes (in-group/out-group)

    • Babin, Boles, and Dardin 1995

    • Offen 2005; Russ and McNeilly 1988

    • Comer, Nicholls, and Vermillion 1998

  • Attitude toward sellers based on gender, race, and physical attractiveness

    • Comer and Jolsen 1991; Lane 2000; Lane and Crane 2002;

    • Piercy, Cravens, and Lane 2003

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Demographics of Sample

Race Codes: C = Caucasian, AA = African American

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Emergent Themes & Strategies

  • Millennials find it hard to relate to older generations on an interpersonal level.

  • Millennials feel confident that they can sell across generations.

  • A significant strategy for overcoming generational differences focuses on establishing similarities.

  • A second strategy is to establish credibility.

  • An alternative strategy identified by Millennials for handling generational differences focuses on professionalism.

  • A final strategy involves establishing dependability.

  • Some Millennials are able to see a positive side to their youth and differences.

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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Limitations/Further Research

  • Limitations

    • Initial training from the university sales program may have provided a level of selling preparation separate from other Millennial salespeople who are beginning their sales careers

  • Further Research

    • Cross section of Millennial salespeople with various training backgrounds

    • Theoretical development of IGS constructs

    • Validate using Buyer’s perspectives

University of Toledo Center for Family Business

May 8, 2007


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