The Millennial Paradox: “What Do I Say to My Prospect?”

Jamie Shanks
Jamie Shanks
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“What do I say?” This is easily within the top 3 most commonly asked questions from sales leaders and sales professionals when learning new digital engagement best practices.

I’ve also heard about 100 conspiracy theories as to why all of the sudden the Millennial generation is incapable of coming up with intelligent communication sound-bites with customers.

My favorite ones are:

1. Millennials grew up less social than us. We went to malls, house parties, dances, bars to interact. They communicate via text, chat groups, and online video games. They didn’t develop their rapport-building skills.

2. Millennials didn’t develop social hierarchy and etiquette skills because of the lack of physical interactions (bullying) they didn’t get subjected too. There weren’t the jocks, rockers, meat heads, etc. in the hallways at school stuffing them into lockers. Millennials just assumed that everyone is their peer.

3. Millennials didn’t develop their EQ muscle through “read and react” based selling in an office or boardroom. They didn’t experience sitting in a customer’s office, rapidly searching for family photos, golf bags, and car magazines, to try to connect the customers interest with their own.

Guess what… I had no freaking idea what to say when I was 22-27 years old either!

In fact, I was reprehended by multiple customers during my 20’s who said that I didn’t really know how to handle after work social functions. I hadn’t practiced how to transition my work conversations into social conversations at the restaurant table or Toronto Maple Leafs hockey game. I was talking “shop” all the time. The 45-year old customer just wanted to have a beer and talk about travel… not more work stuff! Their life was filled to the brim with work stuff.

Communication is a muscle, a muscle that only grows when it’s worked on, broken down, and rebuilt from punishment.

You’re going to burn leads… get over it. Don’t be paralyzed by fear. What always helped me was simple advice: communicate with customers the way you would want to buy yourself. This old adage will never steer you wrong.

There is also NO one way, one perfect script. In fact, that rigidity can be spotted by senior buyers from a mile away!

For those who want to take it a step further, here are some books/courses that helped me learn “What do I say”?

1. Jeff Hoffman:
Specifically, “Why You? Why You Now?™ and The Seven Basho Strategies™ sales training programs

2. John Barrows Sales Training:
3. Daniel Pink, “To Sell is Human”

4. Mark Roberge, “The Sales Acceleration Formula”

5. David H. Maister, Charles H. Green, Robert M. Galford, “The Trusted Advisor”

6. Brent Adamson, Matthew Dixon, Nick Toman, and Pat Spenner, “The Challenger Customer”

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