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Millennials are selling you short

Nov 26, 2020

On a recent podcast I interviewed a director of sales enablement and we started talking about ‘Future Orientation’, one of the elements of partnering skills (PQ). I was surprised when he told me that he thought that millennials tend to have quite a short future orientation.

Whether this is down to the ‘instant gratification’ that the generation is often characterised as requiring, or for some other reason, what he sees is this translating into in the sales workplace.

He went on to explain that more often than not, they would go for short term deals, they would take the easy option. He pointed in that when trying to close an opportunity they would opt for the route that didn’t involve as much work and would take more time. An example might be that rather than trying to sign up a three year contract that would be worth more money it is easier to sign up a one year contract, thinking about the quick gain, rather than the longer term benefits to potentially both the customer and the selling company of the longer alternative.

The short-term quick fix focus isn’t just a disadvantage for the selling organisation, it’s also not very good for the customer. By trying to get a quick win a salesperson might look for the easy and obvious answer. In doing so they’re less likely to invest time in generating information that can be turned into insight and using this for thought provoking and valuable discussions with the customer. An easy, fast project is not necessarily in the best interests of a customer where a more robust solution would deliver value on a longer-term basis

We thought about how we might remedy this. With our backgrounds, it’s probably not surprising that we thought that this is something that requires attention through to training. Not necessarily an adjustment to skills or knowledge, but training at a deeper level to address mindset. The podcast was about selling using partnering skills, and it gave us the perfect opportunity to reflect on how all of the elements of PQ, particularly those concerning future orientation and concentrating on win-win outcomes could really help with this.

Some of the idea based on building a strong collaborative mindset using partnering skills included:

– Develop trust, by doing what you say you are going to do and by knowing your stuff. Make sure what you are doing is intended to help other people, rather than purely yourself.

 – Use a win-win orientation. Truly understand what the customer is trying to achieve and align all activity towards that. It make take longer to deliver on some outcomes, but if it is worth it good things come to those that wait

– Become comfortable with interdependence. This may involve having to give control of certain things to other people. Do not sweat it, as it is a strength, that you are able to do that. A salesperson who tries to be an action hero by doing everything on their own and making mistakes is more likely to look a muppet.

– Increase levels of self-disclosure and feedback. Tell your customer what you need to make a deal work whilst encouraging them to share about their needs and expectations. If its not right for you explain why and really try to understand things from their side by asking better questions

– Embrace change. ‘Change by change or chance by change’. Challenge the status quo of the customer as this maybe where the real value lies. It can be uncomfortable for all parties but it is worth it

– Look to the future. Good questions can elicit a customer goals, plans, desires, ambitions. Where do they want to be? How will they get there? What is like when they do? These types of questions will not only reveal a lot about the customer but also allow larger opportunities to be uncovered

This thinking is based on using Partnering Intelligence or PQ – six elements that make up a way of working that results in an environment conducive to building trust and creating mutual beneficial relationships. These are explored from a salespersons perspective in the book ‘Selling Through Partnering Skills – A modern approach to winning business by Fred Copestake

 How about using the Sales PQ self-audit on the Selling Through Partnering Skills book website to understand how you score in each of the six elements of Sales PQ? Think about how you can improve your score (and mindset to sell) considering questions you will be asked with the report that comes with this. (It’s FREE to do the test)

Fred Copestake is founder of Brindis, a sales training consultancy.
Over the last 22 years he has travelled round the world 14 times visiting 36 countries to work with over 10,000 salespeople.
His book ‘Selling Through Partnering Skills’ looks at the evolving world of sales and sets out what salespeople need to do to refine their approach. It explores how to take things to the next level through understanding partnering intelligence and using the innovative VALUE Framework.

Contact: https://linktr.ee/fredcopestake

Photo by Julián Gentilezza on Unsplash