We Asked 9 Sales Experts About How Millennials Are Transforming Sales

Their Answers May Surprise You

June 13, 2019

Millennials Transforming Sales

As the ranks of buyers and sellers are increasingly made up of Millennials, this age group is transforming the buying and selling process. That’s a key conclusion of the most recent LinkedIn State of Sales report, a global survey of thousands of salespeople and decision makers.

The U.S. version of the State of Sales Report found that Millennials (ages 21-38) tend to be earlier adopters of new technologies and strategies. While sales professionals across generations plan to spend more time using sales technologies, Millennials were the most likely to be early adopters at 62 percent, compared to 56 percent of both Generation X and Baby Boomers.

Millennials are more likely to embrace a variety of technologies:

  • 56 percent of millennials are using collaboration tools such as Box, Microsoft Office and Dropbox, compared to 40 percent of Baby Boomers
  • 39 percent of millennials use enterprise communication apps such Slack and Salesforce Chatter, compared to 15 percent of Baby Boomers

To gain further insight into how Millennials are upending the buying and selling process, we asked sales influencers this question: “How will the sales and buying process change as more Millennials move up the ranks in organizations?” 

Here’s what they had to say:

The sheer size of the Millennial generation warrants respect. They are estimated to be 75% of the global workforce by 2025. As digital natives, one could argue they are the first generation of social sellers. They are not afraid of transparency, and as this shift continues to happen Millennials are uniquely positioned to give B2B buyers the authenticity they are expecting. They came of age during an interesting time with events like the Great Recession influencing their perspective on work. They place a premium on purpose, and despite the myths are willing to work hard if they can find their alignment with the purpose of the product and the company. They are not going to work hard for the sake of working hard, but for the sake of seeing the difference they can make. All of this bodes well for sales leaders if they can find a way to harness these traits rather than making them wrong. — Tracey Wik, President, GrowthPlay
Technology, especial Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, will have a stronger play in the buying process. Millennials have a very specific set of expectations. Micro learning or "Knowledge Bites" will play a key role in how sellers are educated. This will lead to a quicker time to market and revenue. — Roderick Jefferson, CEO, Roderick Jefferson & Associates
A key difference with Millennials is how they communicate. They prefer text and message apps to face to face meetings and email. Email will become obsolete and go the way of the fax machine in the next 8-10 years. They  don’t want to be sold — they want to buy. Speed is critical. They want what they want when they want it. They will multitask and expect you to be informative and knowledgeable and deliver that message quickly and succinctly. — Julie Thomas, CEO, ValueSelling Associates
Millennials are changing the sales process because of social media. They’ve grown up with the idea that it’s okay to share short videos shot on a shaky video camera. The adoption of Instagram by Millennials and similar social media platforms is changing the sales process. Now they’re comfortable sending outbound video to potential customers via personalized email. They’re leading the way. They know that 15-second videos are powerful. It’s more natural for them. They’ve been doing it for seven or eight years already, and their comfort level comes across in video. — Stephen Pacinnelli, CMO, BombBomb
Everyone says Millennials don’t like the phone. However, the RAIN Group Center for Sales Research didn’t find that in its Top Performance in Sales Prospecting research. It’s more that less experienced people are less comfortable with one-on-one live interactions. Right now, millennials are less experienced. As they get more experienced, they’ll get more comfortable and use the phone and live interactions more. Will interactions go more digital? Sure, but that’s more about the pace of technology change and availability than age or generation. — Mike Schultz, President, Rain Group
The biggest differences Millennials will usher in will be focused on access. It’s already becoming clear that the biggest challenge we have in the sales process is around gaining, earning and sustaining attention. The means by which we do this (channel mix, message format, etc.) will shift as more Millennials become decision makers. — Matt Heinz, President, Heinz Marketing
Millennials and Generation Z just don’t interact with the world in the ways that Gen X and Boomers do, so as Millennials move up the ranks (and become larger and larger players from a client perspective), companies will need to interact with their audiences in new ways. Certain methods of sales and marketing will simply disappear. Think the way TV commercials have existed for decades (gone). Cold calling (gone). Blast email (gone). Interactions will become more personalized, because that is an expectation (and necessity). Companies will move in one of two ways:
1) Become more specialized. There will be a niche company for every need. They will focus only on one thing and do it better than anyone else.
2) Mega-companies will be all things to all people. The Amazons, Apples and Alphabets will continue to grow and offer more and more services. They have built the trust in many verticals, so they can more easily expand into others, and do it at scale. — Robert Knop, CEO, Assist You Today
Digital natives will continue to put pressure on industries that don’t evolve. The next generation is much more comfortable engaging with people and information across a variety of different platforms, and so it will be important to meet them in each of these areas. Also, the fragmentation of media means that two-way conversation will be more important in the sales relationship. You can’t just broadcast one message on one platform. They are used to engaging within the channels they use for information, entertainment, and education. It will be important to engage them through online and offline platforms: events, phone, social media, text, print, etc. — David J.P. Fisher, President, RockStar Consulting
Millennials and the new Gen Z workers are digital first, socially connected and mobile. They are also conditioned to skim information and tick tasks rather than go deep. It is increasingly difficult to break through in a noisy world and those who are tech-savvy must also have genuine insights and expertise, relevant to customers, to break though with buyers. Buyer processes are becoming less linear and more chaotic as organizations build their business case for change on the fly and seek consensus from increasing numbers of stakeholders through the buying process. Commercial and political acumen is a vitally important skill for all younger sellers, especially as they engage senior decision-makers. To rise through the ranks, IQ, EQ, TQ (Technical Quotient) are all essential along with commercial and political acumen. — Tony Hughes, Managing Director, RSVPselling

For a deeper dive into the trends that are transforming the future of sales, download the State of Sales report today.