Monday, May 29, 2017

What do you call a Millennial Sales Team?


I recently met some Millennial Sales Reps at Simplex Homes in Scranton, PA to learn what has changed and is changing from the days when Boomers ruled the sales market.

Was I expecting to find the Millennial that many of us in the older generations think of as entitled, self-centered and lazy or would I find that, hopefully, the opposite is true.

From what I learned from the four Millennials Sales Reps at Simplex, I can see why it may terrify sales managers everywhere to know the ugly truth: you’re going to need them sooner rather than later.

It’s estimated that by 2020 roughly half of the US workforce will be Millennials and a business without Millennials is a business without a future.

Here are some facts about them. Two-thirds (64%) of us are willing to work longer hours for the opportunities to be leaders. Job Hopping? No more than sales reps did in the ‘80s. What about needing constant praise? When asked whether every member of a successful team deserves a reward, 64% of Gen X employees agreed compared with 55% of Millennials. Hey, maybe they’re not so bad after all!

I met these sales reps in Simplex Homes’ new Design Center and if I were still a modular factory sales rep I would have immediately felt humbled by their knowledge and work ethics.
mill team.jpg
ltr: Sean McAllister, Brittany Minello, Pete Barbuti, Jason Bogar

When Dave Mertz, VP of Sales introduced me to his Millennial Sales Reps, Sean McAllister, Brittany Minello, Pete Barbuti and Jason Bogar, I knew instantly that he was onto something special.

Interestingly, when it comes to sales specifically, the traditional markings of a Millennial make them a great fit for the modular home profession.

It is unusual to find a team of Millennials in a modular factory sales force and I asked them what it is like to work with older modular builders. This brought knowing smiles to all their faces and said they really enjoy the relationships they have with them.

Many of their builders never grew up with smart phones, tablets, Google, texting and other platforms Millennials take for granted. These reps fill that void for the builder by being an integral part of the builder’s success.

They told me when a Boomer age builder is working on a house with Millennial home buyers, the buyers have very high expectations and each wants to believe they are the most important (and only) customer the builder and factory has. This can frustrate builders, especially when the young home buyers don’t answer the builders phone calls or don’t quickly respond to the builder’s emails. Instead they text snippets of text to the builder throughout the day and expect almost immediate response.

The team at Simplex has found builders, especially the older builder, don’t know how to keep up with these buyers and their unceasing desire for information about changes, new products they just saw on Google and pictures of kitchens they want to see in their home.

Enter the Millennial Sales Rep.

The Simplex team explained their builders have begun opening direct communications between the buyer and the sales rep simply because they don’t know what else to do. This is a new phenomenon in our industry. For decades the factory Sales Manager discouraged this type of communication. Today it is essential.

They all told me that relationship building the most important part of their job, not only with the builder but with the builder’s customer.

Brittany said that her phone is never off, sometimes taking texts from customers and builders into the early morning hours. When I asked the others if they also get texts at odd hours, they all agreed they did and added one more fact. If one of them is stumped by a texted question, it is not unusual for the rep to text other reps to ask for clarification or help even in the early morning hours. Texts fly back and forth between members of the Simplex team. That was also something that used to be discouraged, interaction between factory sales reps.

I asked all of them if this bothered them and they all said it was just part of the job. I remember when Friday evening arrived and a sales rep really didn’t think about their builder until Monday morning. Those happy days are gone, replaced by sales reps that enjoy challenges even on weekends.

Older Boomers and even Gen Xers hate to see Millennials texting at work, but it turns out they’re actually nurturing their social selling profiles and warming the pipeline. They’ve grown up attached to their phones (90% of them sleep with them) but that’s not such a bad thing. They’re digital natives and can adopt new technologies and methodologies twice as quickly as the general population. They’re also more than willing to teach these new tips to their co-workers (just ask!) and peers.

Cherry on top: salespeople who are happier at work sell more.
This Simplex team leverages all levels of social media to listen and learn their Builder’s needs and wants. They can even help their builders find customers where the builder wouldn’t even think to look - Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, blogs, webinars, gorilla marketing.

Their communication channels may not fit the old cold-calling mold but rest assured they’re reaching out to their builders and their builder’s customers via chat, texts, and emails; they’re engaging with future builders on blogs, Quora, reddit, and other social media channels. Still skeptical? Research shows that all of this social selling pays off. 46% of social sellers hit quota compared to 38% of sales reps who don’t leverage social selling and the Simplex Millennials are doing even better.
When I asked how many Millennial builders they had, the answer was what I expected. Millennials are not entering the modular home business at anywhere near the rate that Boomers are leaving.

With Millennials wanting to be connected more than any other generation, it would seem reasonable to assume these four sales reps will soon be reaching out to bring more Millennials into the retail building side of our industry.

Millennials can make an invaluable addition to any modular factory sales team that’s willing to adapt to their unique selling methods. Social sellers by default, they’re eager to join your team, work with your builders and make the factory stronger.

1 comment:

Builder Bob said...

Great article Gary. As a Boomer I find it increasing hard to have patience with young customers. As you said in your article, they want what they want when they want it, even if it means I have to answer them by text Sunday morning at 5.