Breaking Down Generational Differences in Sales

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Does it pay off to be more of a set-in-their-ways veteran of the industry, a high-energy young rep, or somewhere in the middle? Is it possible to get employees from different generations to play on the same team?

Joseph Fung, CEO of Uvaro and host of “The Seller’s Journey’ Podcast,” has had a successful career helping technology businesses hire the right sales professionals and helping sales leaders scale their processes.

When it comes to generational differences in sales, Joseph says it’s not about “teaching old dogs new tricks” or “young is hungry.” It’s really about how much industry and lived experience is necessary. That’s where we empathize.

Face the Changes

Changes in sales are a direct reflection of societal changes. As we move away from old-school, relational sales, we see more emphasis on personal values.

How exactly is sales changing, and what values are being emphasized?

  • Authenticity
  • Mutual respect
  • Showing the customer you’ve done your homework
  • Adopting the customer’s perspective
  • Understanding what problems customers are facing
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion
  • Empathy

Since different generations adapt differently, advising teams and organizations on best practices can be a challenge, so where do you start?

Talk about it

Having open conversations with sales teams about the idea of authenticity and empathy is the first step towards getting multi-generational employees on the same team.

Understand the composition of your team

Don’t ask: How does this person fit our culture? Ask: What are they going to bring to our culture?

Challenging yourself as a sales leader to add to your culture all the time makes a big difference. A mistake Joseph often sees founders and leaders make is that they tend to frame their cultural values or lessons from their lens instead of through the eyes of their team. Be vigilant in setting company values. Don’t just write them down; make them a daily practice.

Putting Values into Action

Recognize people when they’re living by company values

As sales leaders, recognizing people’s successes usually comes after closing a deal or hitting quota, but recognizing people beyond that, when they live the core values, is essential. When leaders do this, it shows others in the company which behaviors to emulate and makes people feel seen and validated.

Carve out time for practice

Even if it’s only for two hours once or twice a week, schedule some time with your team and practice:

  • Your roleplay
  • Your cold calling
  • Objection handling
  • Listening to calls together
  • Supportive peer coaching

A New Reality

Most teams are now dispersed, selling remotely and competing with people across the continent.

We’re seeing this huge diaspora of sales talent and also a huge equalization of companies. Plus, the geographic diversity of sales teams is exploding.

Because now, you’re not just competing with your neighbors — you’re competing across the globe.

“It’s not about generation XYZ, it’s about what was their lived work experience. And if you train your sales team to think about what was the lived experience of the buyer and meet them where they’re at, you’ll sell cross-generationally way easier than anyone else.”

Joseph Fung, CEO of Uvaro and host of “The Seller’s Journey’ Podcast

Now that you’ve learned about the shifting dynamics of today’s sales environment, are you ready to master acquisitions as a growth strategy or learn the secrets to personalizing at scale? Check out the full list of episodes: The B2B Revenue Executive Experience.

Get the latest B2B sales insights and ValueSelling tips monthly.

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