Sales & Sales Management Expertise

How Do You Sell to a Millennial B2B Decision-Maker?

Tags: selling to millennials, selling in today's market

A Guest Post by

How do you sell to a millennial B2B decision-maker? Be aware of what’s important to that individual – just as you would with any client.

You’ve heard the jesting description: Millennials are narcissists, attention-seeking, spoiled clingers still living in their parents’ house, buried under a ton of student debt. They studiously avoid the business of adulting and all that it entails. They don’t stick in jobs, believing a year is plenty of service to a company. They work, gain some experience and move on.

This could lead you to believe, if you’re selling your product or service to a millennial decision-maker, that a little flattery and consistent attention combined with some numbers and a few benefit statements will make the sale for you. And if you’re not successful with the first millennial buyer, another one will be along within a year.

Those aren’t good assumptions and that’s not a good plan. Millennials are flooding the workforce.

According to the Pew Research Center, Millennials have surpassed Generation Xers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force with 54 million individuals. In fact, this year, Millennials surpassed Baby Boomers. The Department of Labor predicts that by 2025, the workforce will grow to include 74 million millennials. As their career trajectories lengthen, they’ll move into more powerful decision-making roles and you need to be ready.

According to research done by the B2B marketing agency Sacunas, 53 percent of millennials are already involved in B2B buying decisions at their companies. Ignoring the unique priorities of millennial decision-makers is not good business.

So how do you sell to the millennial decision-maker? What prompts a millennial to make a B2B buying decision.


Millennials are connected. They’re the first generation to be completely wired and they’re more likely to turn to technology to do research when they are making a buying decision for their company. And they research diligently.

According to the Sacunas research, they use Facebook and YouTube to connect with humans who have engaged the services of a vendor. They look at the vendor’s social media feeds to assess customer service. They visit Glassdoor to examine company reviews to determine if the vendor is someone they want to do business with.

They ask friends and colleagues, via social media, if they would recommend a company’s product or services. They value the opinions of other people.

This makes it imperative that your company monitor its reputation on social media, swiftly address concerns and provide outstanding customer service.


Millennials like video content. They particularly like it if it provides relevant, informative content, such as product demos, training and news about the company or marketplace. Practical information that they see as readily applicable to their specific buying need resonates with millennial buyers. They’re gathering data for the group of decision-makers; if it’s good, they look good. If it’s video, they’re even happier.

Make it visual and valuable and you’re capturing the attention of a millennial buyer.


Depending on where they are on their career trajectory, accurate data is important to the millennial buyer. They’re gathering research for a decision-making group – it’s rare for one person to be the decision-maker on a corporate buy today – so the better the data, the happier they are. It solidifies their reputation with the team as someone who does the homework necessary to make a smart decision.

If they’re buying automated revenue analysis software from you, how effective and accurate has it been in similar industries? Do you have numbers? If they’re buying an email tracking program, what kinds of data does it collect and how do they apply it to their business? If they’re looking at your customer relationship management service in the cloud, what kinds of reporting can it generate to help them identify growth channels and leads?

If you can provide that information, you’re arming the millennial buyer with the powerful tools he needs to make the recommendation you want.


Relationships are important to millennials. There’s no arguing that texting and emailing are viable forms of communication, but millennials like personal contact, even if it’s a meeting by Skype or Facetime. A direct connection with a real human (which is why they turn to social media for confirmation of their thoughts) is critical at an early stage in the sales cycle.


The Marketing Scope reports that millennials feel good about working with vendors who demonstrate a commitment to a cause, who are philanthropic, who give back to the community they serve. Millennials connect with companies that have clear environmental policies. Social, environmental and philanthropic values have a direct impact on a millennial’s decision to work with a specific vendor.


We know you’re going to treat every buyer with respect. Millennials may have specific triggers that are important to them, like the environment and social causes, looking professional to their bosses, demonstrating excellent levels of due diligence, so it’s important to be aware of that. But it’s just good business to do a thoughtful needs analysis and find a true and worthy solution to your buyer’s pain.




Sales Inspiration from an NBA Legend and His Coach

Tags: sales management, building successful sales teams, selling in today's market

The only difference between successful salespeople and the other 77% is that the successful salespeople actually do the very things they don’t like doing.”  

This is a quote from Dave Kurlan’s blog post about Bill Walton and John Wooden (see Additional Resources below).  Dave uses role-playing as an example.  I see this all the time!  Ask someone to role play in front of the group and they shut tight like a clam.  How can you possibly get better at pressure situations if you don’t practice under pressure?

Bill has published and is now marketing his book, Back from the Dead.  I read a couple of lines froman interview with GQ and immediately went to my Amazon add-in and downloaded the book with my 1-click.

Here was my amazing buying experience:

  • I read an article that got my attention.
  • I clicked on a button in my Firefox ribbon at the top of my page.
  • I searched Amazon for “Bill Walton”.
  • The book popped up.
  • I clicked on the little thing on the right side of the page that said, “Buy Now using 1-click.”
  • I wanted the Kindle version so I could read it on the plane without carrying a big book, so when Amazon asked me if I wanted it downloaded to my iPhone, I clicked “yes.”
  • This all took less than a minute.
  • And that, my friends, is today’s sales cycle.

In your sales world, it might not take as many steps or it might be more.  In your sales cycle, it probably takes more than a minute… maybe 30 days, maybe 120, maybe a year.

Bottom line: There is something that stimulates the buyer. The buyer gets the information they want and then… when they want to buy… they want to make the process easy and they want options.  If you are not doing those things (stimulating the buying response – providing information to make a buying decision – giving them options – making it easy), then you are going to lose the sale to those that do those things.  Not only will you lose occasionally, but sooner or later, it will become a permanent condition.

Now, my favorite Bill Walton and John Wooden story.

Watch the video to get the whole story, but in short, the lesson for the Sales Leader is this:

  • You’ve been hired to do a job – drive sales growth/win market share
  • Part of that responsibility is to put the best team in the market.
  • As the coach, you establish the culture for winning; you set the team rules.
  • You can lead people but you cannot make them do something – players have free will.
  • If someone violates the rules, something has to be done – bend the rules, keep the rules
  • If a salesperson wants to exert their independence, let them. But let them do it somewhere else.
  • They have to want to play for you and win more than compete against you and lose.

Additional Resources:

Dave Kurlan’s blog:
The Sales Success Secret Shared by Bill Walton and John Wooden

Unless you have strong leadership, the money you spend on sales training is wasted. Stop wasting money.  In addition to great players, the key to a sales team built for growth is great sales management Leadership and Management. Read more about our Sales Management Certification.

Make sure you get great players who are committed to winning for you –

Get insight on the 9 Keys to Successful Sales Management 

How to Win Business in Any Market at Any Time!

Tags: sales prospecting, performance management, increase sales, selling in today's market


Selling in Any Market is one of my favorite keynote/workshops to deliver. When addressing a group of sales people or sales managers, I always create a stir when I loudly pronounce that the way to sell in any market is to “STOP making excuses and JUST SELL.”

When there are disruptions/economic conditions in your industry that cause you to get out of your normal flow in business, sometimes you end up spending more time playing defense than you do playing offense. 

In our primary markets – insurance brokerages, banking and investment services - disruptions have become a quarterly occurrence.  In my 20+ years in this business, I have asked audiences across the country if they have ever gone through a three-year period in their business when there wasn’t some sort of the disruption in the “normal” flow of business.  In short, their answer was no. In fact, disruptions in flow of business have become the norm.

In a recent discussion with one of our current client’s brokers, they described that the market is a hard market right now meaning that some prices are stable and some are going down.  As a result, some of the markets/carriers were lowering prices to grab market share.  When this happens, a broker’s own clients sometimes decide that it’s time to go for better premiums with the same coverage.  So, when this happens, brokers (like my client) have to play some defense to protect their turf.  And when that happens, brokers have a tendency to take their eyes off of prospecting – they stop playing offense.

I have several clients in the bank-owned investment brokerage business.  Last week, the Department of Labor passed new fiduciary regulations that have caused and will continue to cause a MAJOR disruption in that business.  Studies indicate that companies will literally spend billions of dollars to make sure they are compliant with the new regulations.  Not only will this require an investment of an enormous amount of money, but it will also take millions of hours invested by many for compliance training.  None of these activities are offensive in nature and so, in the end, will actually cost millions, maybe billions, more in lost productivity.

This is not necessary!  Here are just a couple of things to keep in mind as you attempt to manage performance during difficult periods:

  • Unlike 2008 (when a substantial piece of the market DID shrink), the current situation is not the same.
    1. Businesses are not going out of business because insurance premiums are going down.
    2. The amount of money in play in retirement and personal savings has not shrunk. If it’s a multi-billion/trillion dollar pile of money today, it will still be a multi-trillion pile of money once the Department of Labor regulations are fully implemented (January 1, 2018)
  • If your clients have a tendency to want to shop in a tough market, so do the clients of your competitors. Companies are in play, but you have to take the phone “off of the hook” and call them.
  • People that have invested their money with advisors that have not treated them in a way that is consistent with the new regulations (client focused/fiduciary responsibility) will be in the market to find an investment advisor/representative who will.
  • If you find that it is your smaller clients that want to shop – let them. My guess is that, if you let the bottom 20% of your insurance clients go, it will represent less than 5% of your total revenue.  One new client that looks more like your top 20% will replace at least 10 of your bottom clients.
  • If you are a financial advisor – DITTO. Frequently, my friend, Kevin Mummau from CUSO Financial, and I discuss the segmenting of books of business. Time and again, the 80/20 rule applies. Actually, based on his business intelligence, that industry looks more like 30/70.  But, still let the smaller accounts work with licensed bank reps or bring in an associate that can grow by growing with smaller accounts.

The bottom line is this: as a sales leader in an organization, you have the responsibility to keep your people focused on what it takes to win in any market, any environment.  Regardless of the score of the game, you have to…

Just like in a sport of any kind, stuff happens.  A team gets a big lead, catches a break, the wind shifts and the kick goes wide.  It doesn’t matter!  You cannot win just playing defense.

Sooner or later, you have to score more points than the opponent. That is offense!