Why Are Millennials Outpacing the Pack in B2B Sales?
January 9, 2019
If you’re like Albert Einstein, and subscribe to the belief that experience is the best teacher, then you’d be reasonable to expect that millennial sales pros lag behind B2B selling veterans. I mean, we’re talking about a profession that benefits from deep business knowledge, an expansive network, and knowing how to navigate intimidating C-suites with nuance.
But it turns out the opposite is true. LinkedIn’s State of Sales 2018 report indicates that millennials have found the fast track to success. In 2017, this cohort was more likely than Generation X and baby boomer sales pros to exceed their projected revenue targets, and were 46% more likely to “go big” by exceeding their target by 50%.
How can that be? Here are two key reasons why millennials are outpacing the pack, and how you might adjust your B2B sales strategy accordingly.
Millennials Are Quicker to Adopt New Sales Strategies and Technologies
We asked sales pros to rate the sales technology platforms they consider “very important” or “important” to closing deals. As you can see, top sales professionals place a higher value on sales technology across the board, with “networking platforms” being the biggest differentiator between top sales professionals and others.
By and large, millennial sellers are leveraging sales technology at similar rates as the top sales professionals. That gap should continue to widen, with 62% of millennials (65% of top-performing millennials) saying they anticipate spending more time with sales technology this year, compared to 56% of Generation X and baby boomer sales pros who said the same.
It’s also important to note that “experience” has become more subjective in B2B sales. For instance, when it comes to experience using social networking platforms, millennials clearly have a leg up, according to Pew Research Center.
In an era where you’d be hard-pressed to get a sales prospect to answer a cold call or cold email — tactics that once worked in the experience of most Generation X or baby boomer sales pros — millennials are more open to not just using sales technology to find the right people, but also to engage them in conversations online. Whereas Generation X and baby boomer sales pros had to “relearn” sales engagement, millennials can in many cases simply tap into their natural tendencies.
It’s no surprise, then, that millennials are also more apt to attribute their success to sales technology. Millennials were more likely than their Generation X and baby boomer counterparts to describe both their CRM applications and sales intelligence solutions as “extremely critical.”
Millennials Are Making Nice with Marketing
Here’s another area where experience can be highly overrated. For Generation X and baby boomer sales pros, a hit-and-miss (but mostly miss) relationship with marketing has been the standard.
On the other hand, millennial sales pros know that sales and marketing haven’t always seen eye-to-eye, but that’s not stopping them from making inroads with their marketing counterparts. Top-performing millennials are 23% more likely to say they work “very closely” with marketing than Generation X and 73% more likely than baby boomers.
This past year, the partnership grew stronger yet, with millennial sales pros being 12% more likely than Generation X and 24% more likely than baby boomers to spend more time working with marketing than in past years. This alliance appears to be paying off for millennials, who say they see excellent leads from marketing at 56% higher rates than Generation X, 115% higher than baby boomers. Inexperience might actually be an advantage for sales pros as it relates to working with marketing.
Having grown up online, millennials know what a contextual experience should feel like, and they’re willing to work with marketing to deliver it to sales prospects. While veteran sellers certainly have plenty to teach the younger generation, in this regard the reverse is also true where sales strategy is concerned.
Learn more about how top sales pros of all stripes are separating themselves from the pack by downloading the State of Sales 2018 Report.