Will Gen Z Make Great Salespeople? | No Limits Selling - NLP Sales Training - Baltimore

Will Gen Z Make Great Salespeople?

Robert M. Peterson Ph.D. is the Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Sales at Northern Illinois University. He holds degrees from Indiana University, George Washington University and the University of Memphis. He spent his sabbatical studying sales enablement; other interests include improv, negotiation, and training-oriented innovations. Dr. Peterson is the Editor of the Journal of Selling and has completed the Second City Improv curriculum.

 

Rob created the National Sales Challenge and the Sales Decathlon, both collegiate sales competitions while earning six national teaching awards. He is passionate about winemaking, Boy Scouts, and making a difference in higher ed, yet his teenage twins are convinced he knows nothing.

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[Podcast Transcript]

Umar Hameed
Hey everyone, today I have the privilege of having Dr. Robert Peterson PhD joining me today he’s the deans distinguished professor at the Northern Illinois University and the founding member of the sales enablement society. Rob, welcome to the program.

Robert Peterson
Welcome. Thank you. Great to be here. It’s great to be wherever Umar is, you know,

Umar Hameed
the reason I’m so excited to talk to you is you are grooming the next generation of salespeople coming into the marketplace. I really wanted to get some key insights and you know, what drives their behavior? How can companies manage this new sales force coming in so we can maximize their effectiveness because they are effective? Right?

Robert Peterson
Yeah. Yeah. Well, here’s the cool thing about about the next generation disease or the Zoomers. They’re the coolest generation ever. No one’s ever done, what we’re about what we’re doing. yada yada yada. It’s the same thing every generation and so on. And the same things that that that we, you know, the millennials were taken out to the woodshed for the the Z’s aren’t being good. Do they? They don’t listen, where’s the motivation? They don’t take notes, yada, yada. Yeah. And that surprising rumor that that was us to back in the day. Correct.

Umar Hameed
What’s interesting is I have these defining moments in my life. And one of the defining moments was this guy called Mr. higden. He was our English teacher. He was like a radical. So he didn’t teach anything into the entire year except we just talked to the students. And it was like, Oh, I need an exam done or something at the end. But one of the things he did was he read a letter explaining the exact same thing that you are talking about. We’re going to hell in a handbasket. The Next Generation they are lazy they don’t listen, they don’t do this is it can you take this and it was like, sure, like not the 1950s the 1940s and it was an ancient letter they found any like, BC era from one file to another father and it was like nothing changes. The Human Condition is the same

Robert Peterson
Correct. Correct.

Umar Hameed
So tell me what you’ve seen with this next generation, like, Well, the thing that really drives them

Robert Peterson
being a college professor, I’ll share some anecdotal stuff, but But certainly, you know, we’re numbers, people research people. So I grabbed some stuff from Gartner that showed the difference between at the same age element. They asked millennials, and they asked, Z’s, the same question. And the series of questions. And the measures were that 21 they’re 21 points. Higher were the Z’s on tenacity. Really, once I set my once I set my mind to do something I do not stop or give up regardless of the obstacles versus the millennial generation 21 points higher on that on that measure, and the 17th hire on I always strive to obtain experts skills or knowledge. So it’s those I mean, those are different. I mean, those are statistically different between the generations. Now at the same time, they are 43 points less, it is important to me to have fun. And they were 43 343 points less important to have fun and forget about my problems, that is not this this generation. So. So there definitely are differences. Again, these are sweeping generalities. Everybody is slightly different. The Human Condition is different. In fact, if you look at what the Z’s have grown up with, and again, the Z’s are, as we sit here in 2020, the Z’s are generally 20 max will be 24. Generally, the first end is 23. All the way down to they’re still in, they’re still in middle school, getting out of grade school. So they’re they’re mean that’s the age age bracket. But if you look at those kids, a lot of them came to me Growing up in their households, it was 2008 where people were losing their house people were making sure that they had food to put on the table. So that condition when you’re 789 10 it affects you so the idea you know the parenting skills and and whatnot the Depression era people right?

Umar Hameed
That came through that had a different view on what

Robert Peterson
the world looked like. Well I’d see that I mean, I’m this measure where it says hey, fun is not is is so much different than my millennial brothers and sisters ahead of me. That is, that is huge. That is okay, I’m just gonna hunker down and do this bunker. I’m going to hide my bunker here and make sure that I’m I am expert, I had the tenacity because I don’t think life is as much about fun versus the last generation. Again, you we asked that or whatever. But the survey asked that in 2018, and they asked millennials in 2010 The same age. So that maturation process will will change little. But I think you would say that Yeah, there’s a difference that this is coming Z’s are a little bit more serious than the previous generation. Brilliant. So some

Umar Hameed
of these young warriors.

Robert Peterson
Yep. Yeah. In fact, that’s, that was another interesting difference between the generations, in 1979 60% of us, and I was part of that 60% of teens had a job. Now you fast forward to 2018 20%. So in let’s just round it off for for those listening in at 60% of teens had held a job now. It’s about 20% in 2020. That’s a totally different way to go through your teen years about responsibility paycheck, yada, yada, yada. So that’s that’ll that will be brought with you. The idea of showing up painting dues, having responsibility? I mean, some of the things I asked the students to give me an annotated resume, what did you learn at each one of these jobs? And they didn’t do anything of this and that it’s like, did you show up? Yes. Did you do what you were told? Yes. Did you interface with customers and make them happy when there was a problem did I mean these are skills that if you don’t have a job, because you’re at home, playing sports all day, or playing video games, these are some of the things you’re going to have to learn somewhere and it’s going to be your first, you know, potentially your first full time job, which is a little bit of a change for the marketplace.

Umar Hameed
What are you hearing back from your students that are going out to do internships?

Robert Peterson
What are they reporting back? Like? Where are their struggles where don’t employers valued them? I would say that, that it’s much more positive than it back in the day, because we would do a lot of clerical stuff. Now. You have to outline what you want this person to do and this person generally gets to do a lot of some some Meteor things then then than we did, but they’re, you know, they’re learning the same thing. If here’s my phone, they they use their phone for this. The idea of doing this is different. And so when they’re asked to do that there’s learning there’s a learning curve, the idea of how to leave a professional voicemail. Not something that they’ve been schooled in when you and I were grown up, the phone rang. It was attached to the wall, it had a cord. And you answered it, because you answered it because you didn’t know who was calling. You didn’t know if it was the nurse at the school calling because your kid was sick, or it was aluminum siding guy. So you answered the phone. Right? And so and we, you know, in my house, we because my dad was a career salesman, we had a regimen and how we were asked to answer the phone and if you answered the phone and didn’t take a message, you are no longer allowed to talk on the phone. So some of these things that we’ve lost because of progress and trust me, progress is is phenomenal. I mean, when I tell stories About the students is like, Yeah, when I left the office, I had a roll of quarters. And I knew what phone booths that I was going to hit in order to call back to the office. And they’re like, all right. And in the winter, where, you know, I was north, and so you’d find the phone booths that were inside, they had the door to close. They’re like, Where, where are you from? So they have some technological advantages that employers love. In fact, I just heard a story the other day that there was a, from a faculty member at another university, who said her son was asked, he was a finance major, come to our come to our office, we want you to do this and blah, blah, blah. So he’s sitting there says, Well, why does everybody you know, get these reports from the stores? Why don’t I just make it a, an Excel sheet, and we’d go a lot faster. And we’re like, Alright, go ahead. Well, in doing that, he found that for the last 20 years, there was an algorithm mistake, a math mistake. And so It was giving all the store managers more money, a bigger comp bonus, then then a group then the agreement it someone whoever wrote it down did it wrong. So when he put it into Excel he wasn’t very popular amongst the store owners because the company from we’ve been overpaying for for a decade or more. That is, you know, some of the things that the younger generation will bring is like, why do you do it that way? Why don’t you use technology? Or just have a different perspective? So excuse me, so it’s a it’s a trade off between what the employers are doing and where they’re starting with the kids and what skill sets I mean, some of you might have seen that, that YouTube video where the kids are on an old rotary phone, they’re going to make a call and they can’t figure out how to do it. And we all laugh well, you know before this, this this call when I was getting reverb out of my out of my microphone I was good. The sound was too low. I couldn’t figure it out. So, you know, I call my 17 year old technical advisor. He came in here within, you know, 18 seconds he fixed it.

Robert Peterson
So,

Robert Peterson
so the differences.

Robert Peterson
I mean, one of the things we’ve done is we’ve rubric these kids to death. And I see it in my classes where I was on the bridge before they get out. I teach the senior level business to business, the kids are making phone calls, or they’re leaving voicemails talking to gatekeepers, and I give them a wide berth and say, here’s the goal. This is what we need to do. What are you going to do? And they’re waiting for me to plan everything out the unfortunate part of this generation, and they’ll fix it on their own, but it’ll have to be fixed as well. Other playdates were scheduled. I mean, if you and I wanted to play with someone, we walked down the street or we rode our bike. We knocked on the door. Hey, what are you doing? We had to talk to mom or dad and they would say You know, Bobby can’t come out and play or whatever, or he’s at home. But we had an interaction. That’s not the as much to today. And the rubrics that my students just want to know what, you know, what did I do? What was exactly like, Look, your customers are not going to give you all the PowerPoint slides for a 16 week sales cycle, because it’s not even going to be 16 weeks. It could be one week, it could be a year. And when I tell them like your sales cycle, depending on you know where you are, it could be over a year. They’re like, really, it would take a year? Yes, I said in some industries, it could take a couple years and or, you know, large ticket items to build that trust, to run out of the other contract and whatnot. So I think the the creativity, or the ability not to follow somebody rubric who they’ve handed to you is something that will that will add that employers would have to further further develop. One of the other things you got me thinking? They’re definitely a technology, you know, not across the board, but they’re definitely technology driven. And their and their brain is fragmented into, you know, in 2020. Now we’re doing tic tocs. Okay? Yes, they want a visual. I mean, they don’t want to sit in a room where we talk too much. They need a visual stimulation for their brain. That’s how they’ve been. That’s how they grown up. They want it to be a YouTube type experience where, hey, I’m gonna watch this for four minutes. We’re gonna do that. And then I got to I got to click on another one. I got to watch something else for three minutes. So our l&d are learning and development and how we how do we, you know, bring these young folks along. It’s definitely different. And obviously, a lot of companies get that but some still don’t see the multi generational from, you know, boomers and Xers millennials and the Z’s. They don’t learn the same way. And they don’t remember in the same way, so so if Going back to your original question was, what do they need to do is they need to be cognizant of how the young folks chunk in their brain and learn things, which is definitely different. I’ve got Doc, I mean, I’m looking for anything around my desk, anything with words on it like Dr. P, that’s a, that’s a lot of words. That’s a lot of words. Yes, you’re gonna have to read my math in order to make it in this world. So

Umar Hameed
there was some research done in the past. So they said, okay, people fall into four groups of styles of learning. There are people that are the if you don’t tell me why I need to learn this, what’s the importance of this, that they’ll just shut down and won’t participate in that learning? And the second quadrant are people that tell me what to do, what’s the process that you want me to do? And that’s the most important part. The third part where I live is shut the hell up and let me go play with it and let me experience it. And then you got the fourth group that with the what ifs? Like sure this works in Illinois, but would it work in In California, which you’re going, why are you thinking like that? Like, why wouldn’t it? But they’re the what if kind of people. So is that still true in this generation?

Unknown Speaker
I absolutely agree that there’s there’s still a natural diffusion or distribution of bell curve of some variety. But I think they they fall more into the into the first quadrant that you mentioned, mentioned up one more time. So why why should

Umar Hameed
I pay attention to this? They need to know that in order to devote time to it,

Robert Peterson
they want to know why they, I mean, back in our day, we were just told to do something. We just go did it. And we figured it out. If we didn’t, we didn’t know. Now. They want to know why. And there’s some benefits to that. It’s like Hey, why are we doing this? Because it goes back to that same story just told about the Excel spreadsheet like Hey, why are we

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

About the Author Umar Hameed

I am a performance coach who uses Applied Neuroscience to help individuals and teams break through their barriers so they become awesomer! Take a look at my Motivational Speaker Kit

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