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Canadian Professional Sales Association

Sales: The Next Generation (These Are The Voyages of the Gen Z Sales Pros)

Want to feel really old? Those young kids you keep referring to with the blanket title of “Millennials” aren’t, in fact, Millennials at all. Yes, it’s true, the next generation is entering the workforce...

Gen Z (those born between 1995 and 2010), like millennials before them, are set to shake up the sales landscape as both customers and salespeople. That fresh-faced 21-year-old walking into your office today has a very different set of experiences and values from the Millennial who entered a few years ago. As a sales manager, you need to know what sets them apart so you can go boldly and get the best out of your young hires. Here’s what to expect from Sales: The Next Generation...

These are the voyages of the Gen Z sales pros…

Gen Z and the Quest for Truth

The characteristics of each generation are shaped by the context into which each was born. According to McKinsey, Gen Z are “True Gen” the generation on a quest for “truth” because they are coming of age in the context of social media and multiple realities. As digital natives, they have grown up seeing a variety of online worlds, and as such, they have an “undefined” identity - they don’t want to be put into a box but rather want to go on a voyage for their own truth. But at the same time, they are much more pragmatic and realistic than their predecessors. If Millenials have come to be defined as “generation me” who were born into economic stability and were brought up to believe they could and should achieve anything, Gen Z,  born after the 2008 recession, know that they have to graft in the gig economy and have a more entrepreneurial spirit.

Seeking Out the Unique Yet Ethical

Whereas the Millennial consumer seeks the experiential, the Gen Z-er, not only looks for products and services that can be customized and tailored, they expect companies to take a stand for what they believe in. They will reward those that they respect with their business and they will “cancel” those that don’t. 

Sales Behaviours

So how does this affect Gen Z as salespeople? 

Having a somewhat undefined identity and being on a quest for individual truth means that Gen Z salespeople may be better suited to “thinking outside the box” when it comes to creating uniquely tailored customer solutions. The flip side is that as employees, they may be harder to pin down. As part of your sales team, it will be important for you as the sales manager to give them the space to find their own voice and selling style. 

One thing that will help them stand out is that they are radically inclusive and place a high value on ethics. Gen Z is quick to mobilize around causes and brands that they believe in and that promote inclusivity.  Your Gen Z salespeople will likely excel at social selling and building online communities around your product or service. 

Gen Z behaviour is also shaped by believing in the power of listening to overcome differences. This behaviour lends itself perfectly to consultative selling as Gen Z salespeople will understand the value in listening to a customer’s problem and finding a unique solution to help them solve it.

The last behaviour, and one which may come as a surprise is a strong sense of pragmatism. McKinsey’s report showed that Gen Z-ers, growing up in uncertain economic times, view job stability as more important than a high salary. Seeing their older counterparts struggle in the gig economy has meant that they show a high preference for regular employment rather than freelance or part-time work.  Sales can be a notoriously high risk, high-pressure environment. You may find it becomes necessary to rethink your sales compensation plan to provide them with a more stable income and job security. 

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