6309 Monarch Park Place, Suite 203
Niwot, CO 80503, USA
Phone (303) 443-5060
Toll free (888) 742-5060
who aren’t interested in hearing the traditional long-winded sales pitch.
“Millennials’ tolerance for somebody coming in and blathering at them is low or nonexistent,” Wiborg says. “Their expectations are that you do what you say you’re going to do. And that is exactly what we’ve been working on for a number of years. Time is highly valuable for them, and yet they’re very committed to getting the job done. That’s a good thing. Their expectations are high. They want a professional company serving them in a professional way.”
Shift your sales approach
Looking at demographics and understanding that distributor customers range from millennials to Gen Xers to baby boomers is also part of the customer engagement process at F.W. Webb, Bedford, MA, according to Tom Santer, vice president of sales. Millennials want unconstrained access to product and account information, and the company has adapted service offerings to match.
“F.W. Webb believes it’s critical important to serve all customers whenever, wherever and however they prefer,” Santer says. “For example, with our millennial customers, we understand their preference to travel light, communicate on the go and be paper-free. All F.W. Webb account customers have 24/7 online access to product information, ordering and account management functionality.”
The most important consideration is how millennials prefer to receive information, which differs from boomers. More of them are on social media, checking a company’s Facebook page, Twitter feed or YouTube channel first for basic information. Lacking a presence there makes a bad first impression.
“Given that most customers are computer- and smartphone-savvy, we incorporate online and social media to communicate with our customers,” Santer says. “We have a robust website and where customers can view and order products, and see our latest promotions, training and events. We frequently email customers and disseminate news of interest to them via social media. We recently launched a new robust online order site for our professional customer which makes placing an order and tracking it much easier.”
Wiborg agrees that a company can’t just “foist” itself on a millennial customer, which is why Stellar is also bolstering its social media presence, including a YouTube channel for general information and specific answers.
“Our YouTube channel might be the most important thing that we do over the next several years to enhance that, to provide resources, expertise, how-to’s,” Wiborg says. “We’re heading in that direction. Young people want to know where to go for answers rather than having some slick salesman trying to hawk something. We have been and we continue to refine making ourselves a resource and projecting that out to the marketplace.”
This generational shift in the way buyers want to interact means the field sales role is also evolving – though not disappearing altogether – because millennials “don’t want to see a sales rep just to see a sales rep,” Wiborg says. “They don’t want a sales rep coming in just to say, ‘What can I do for you today?’ They’re not going to solely engage on a non-face-to-face basis, so it’s not that the physical presence completely goes away, but they need to know that a sales rep has to bring value when they come in and time can’t be wasted.”
Reach millennials by hiring them
Jack Henderson took a chance when he hired Morgan Horner to be a lighting specialist at Hunzicker Brothers, a nearly century-old electrical distribution in Oklahoma City, OK.
Horner was in his 20s and didn’t have a college degree or any distribution experience, but Henderson plucked Horner from a sales gig at a furniture store because “he has the purest sales personality that I have ever seen,” says Henderson, Hunzicker’s executive vice president.
Though Horner “knew zero about electrical” and had little business sense about how a distributor operates, Henderson says his willingness to call anyone, anytime, was a plus. So was his youth and his ability to connect with customers around the same age.
Unlike older salespeople at the company, Horner sends Facebook friend requests to customers. He texts them. And he even sends them videos using Snapchat Spectacles – sunglasses with a video camera built in so you can record a 10-second “Snap.”