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Millennials will soon hold the majority of buying positions at your customers, so adapting sales strategies to their demands is critical for long-term survival, according to Cam Marston of Generational Insights in Selling to the Next Generation
Marston, whose company Generational Insights helps clients understand generational change and its impact on the workplace and marketplace, says distribution "might be a baby boomer-dominated industry, but the evidence is clear that it won't last very long."
Learning what millennials want in a workplace – such as ease of doing business, quick access to information and different ways of ordering – begins by asking them, says Marston, who presented "Selling Across the Generations" at Essendant Inc.'s show for suppliers and resellers last month in Las Vegas, NV.
For example, millennials want unconstrained access to product and account information, so companies like Bedford, MA-based F.W. Webb have adapted service offerings to match, according to Tom Santer, the company's vice president of sales.
"With our millennial customers, we understand their preference to travel light, communicate on the go and be paper-free," he says. "All F.W. Webb account customers have 24/7 online access to product information, ordering and account management functionality."
Millennials also aren't interested in hearing the traditional long-winded sales pitch and have a low tolerance for "somebody coming in and blathering at them," says John Wiborg, president and CEO, Stellar Industrial Supply, Tacoma, WA.
"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," Wiborg says. "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."
Read more about understanding your millennial customers in Selling to the Next Generation.