Tip: Update Your Sales Strategy for the Next Generation - Modern Distribution Management

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Tip: Update Your Sales Strategy for the Next Generation

While distributors are slow to hire the next generation, their customers arent.

Millennials have different ideas about what they want in a workplace, but they also have different shopping and buying preferences, according to Cam Marston, in Selling to the Next Generation, whose company Generational Insights helps clients understand generational change and its impact on the workplace and marketplace.

While you may have tailored your office culture and training processes to accommodate more millennials in the workplace, have you considered how you’re selling to the next generation? More millennials are in B2B buying positions, and they shop and buy differently than preceding generations, as detailed in MDM's latest research report, What Customers Want – 2nd Edition: A Distributor's Guide to Customer Buying & Shopping Preferences

Millennials compose just 2 percent of employees of Industrial Supply Association members, according to a 2016 ISA ONE Strategic Report, but their numbers will grow, says Marston. Millennials composed 35.6 percent of the U.S. workforce in 2016, ahead of Generation X (31.2 percent) and baby boomers (30.7 percent), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2026, millennials will widen that workforce lead, composing an estimated 44.2 percent of the workforce.

“It might be a baby boomer-dominated industry,” says Marston, “but the evidence is clear that it won’t last very long.”

While distributors are slow to hire the next generation, their customers aren’t. More of them are hiring millennials for procurement and other positions, meaning it’s critical to develop a sales approach to match the changing demands of these new distributor customers. Understand millennials and you’ll have a better understanding of your customers.

“There’s value in spending time learning them better,” Marston says. “By being aware that you have customers of different generations, it begins to inform your decisions.”

Read more about the changing face of buying in Selling to the Next Generation.

Editor's note: On June 26-28, MDM is bringing together 100 distribution leaders and experts in Denver to share the latest thinking and research in how to create your next-generation sales model to meet the changing needs of customers. Today is the last day to save $200 by registering for this conference that sold out in 2017. Check out www.salesgpsconference.com for details and to register.

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