As I speak to various Sales and Marketing executives about Social Selling, invariably someone questions if “age” is a factor in whether or not a person’s success in social selling is dependent on how old they are.
The question is usually something like, “Do you think that younger workers are more likely to embrace using social media as part of their selling process?”
What you need to know is that I am Generation C aka Generation Connected, and I don’t mind telling you that I am a Boomer. On the young end of the scale, but a Boomer none the less. When the age question comes up, my answer is always the same.
No. A person’s ability to learn and use social media has absolutely NOTHING to do with age. I am as wired and digitally connected as someone 20 years younger than me. Maybe more so.
Two things are behind the age question…
1. The assumption that the younger workers, who grew up with mobile devices in their hands, are more comfortable with new technology and are therefore more likely to use it successfully in their business lives.
2. Perhaps a thinly veiled excuse for not learning, or a way of suggesting that older folks don’t get it, won’t get it, can’t get it, don’t want to get it, and we shouldn’t expect them to.
Younger workers might know the mechanics of the technology but business experience matters more!
I don’t disagree that younger workers are probably more comfortable using new technology. But I can tell you with certainty that they grew up texting and using Facebook or Twitter in their “personal” lives. What they say and share with their friends may not be what you want them saying and sharing on behalf of your business brand.
It is all about attitude!
As for the older, more experienced workers… anyone can learn something new IF they want to.
Given that I work with a fair number of technology companies, I always find it fascinating that seasoned sales folks who understand complex B2B technology products and services have such a fear of social media.
These tools are not difficult to use. Though it takes a little time to figure out how to best represent yourself online, that isn’t tough to learn either. Using age is a big fat excuse and it will most certainly hinder sales success today and in the future.
Why the resistance?
In a business interview about sales, I was asked what really gets in the way of sellers resisting the use of social media to sell. It is a good question, which I think boils down to this one fundamental thing:
Sellers who have been successful throughout their career figure that they don’t need to change anything, because it’s been working for them up until now.
The problem is that old school sales approaches are colliding with the expectations of today’s buyers in every industry and market you can imagine.
Connor Marsden, US Director of CRM at Microsoft Dynamics told me that he deletes emails and cold calls from sales people he doesn’t know. He finds it hard to believe how many sales people still call executives out of the blue with a pitch and expect a call back. Me too.
This is not the opinion of one sole executive however. I’ve yet to talk to any leader who says that they can’t wait to call strangers back, because they have nothing better to do.
Age is merely a number.
Age has nothing to do with being a member of Generation Connected. It has absolutely nothing to do with being successful as a social seller. Attitude, an open mind, the ability to adapt and an appetite for keeping up with what’s new is what drives success .
Go ahead…keep trying to tweak those cold calling techniques. I’ll miss seeing you at President’s Club.