Sales has never been an easy role, and as the economy continues to recover from the pandemic, modern consumers will expect even more from their salespeople. I’ve heard it time and time again: consumers are savvier, coming to the negotiating table with research already in hand, and they want authentic relationships, not sales pitches.
With more and more Gen Zers entering the salesforce, how do they fit into the equation? What do they do well, and where do they have room to grow in this modern sales landscape? Thinking back to the beginning of my own sales career, there were some skills I already had and others I had to learn along the way to achieve success.
What advice would I give Gen Zers just starting out? In hindsight, here are three things I wish I had known when I started my sales career:
When I was starting out, I wish I had known the power of networking and mentoring. Social media makes it easy to find and connect with potential mentors and customers. Just the other day, a young sales leader from Bangladesh reached out to me. He heard me on a podcast, connected with me on LinkedIn, scheduled a short meeting, and asked if I would mentor him on building a high-performance team. The ease and speed of connections like this just didn’t happen when I started in sales—networking required significant time and effort.
Today, there are so many ways to network, build connections, gain knowledge, hone skills, and search for your next role or industry. The next generation of sellers may have a more independent mindset, but they also understand the power of technology for the purpose of networking. Networking and collaboration are a powerhouse combination if you can leverage your network successfully and collaborate effectively.
My world was so small early on in my sales career. I rarely had the opportunity to connect with other salespeople in different markets or industries, and I didn’t understand how expanding my sales horizons could strategically position me for future opportunities. Gen Zers tend to embrace novelty and diversity more easily, and a broader perspective means more significant opportunities. Today’s sellers are living in a hyper-connected world, nearly one-quarter (22%) of Gen Zs use their smartphones 10+ hours per day,, and they are exposed to a greater variety of perspectives and views. This broader perspective allows them to build authentic relationships much more easily and see the strategic benefit of developing and sustaining these connections.
Today’s sellers have endless options for their career paths. They can do anything and work anywhere. The next generation of salespeople are savvy professionals, and companies would benefit from considering them for roles with increased responsibility. When considering next-generation sellers, companies need to ask themselves: who are they working for? What larger goals are they contributing toward? How can the organization sell their salespeople on loyalty and longevity?
In relationship selling, it takes approximately the same amount of effort to sell a low-value item as it does to sell a high-value item, except the commission is better on a high-value item. I wish I had learned to sell higher-value items earlier in my career. That said, once a relationship is established, it takes less time to sell to an existing customer than a new one. Many organizations focus on recruiting new business, but more attention should be placed on the time-value equation that can easily guide your efforts as a salesperson. Understanding the big picture of time-value and how it impacts relationship selling is extremely useful for long-term success.
Developing a successful sales career in the midst of an economic recovery can be challenging, but Gen Z sellers are well-positioned to meet this challenge head-on. They have a wealth of resources at their fingertips, and by remembering the importance of collaboration, strategy, and value they can find success in sales.
Cherilynn Castleman has helped Fortune 500 clients as a global sales executive for 20+ years. Currently, the Chief Learning Officer for Sistas In Sales – SIS empowers women of color across the sales sector. Also, the Managing Partner/Executive Coach for CGI- a sales training and coaching firm. She prides herself on changing mindsets as well as instructing and inspiring others to action. Best Selling Author of What’s In the CARDS? 5 Post Pandemic Sales Strategies.
Blog originally posted on LinkedIn’s Modern Selling – April 26, 2021