Millennials Are Causing a Sales Revolution
I’m a millennial and I’m proud of it. If you haven’t noticed there are a lot of “me” out there. According to Nielsen, Millennials now make up ¼ of the US population with a total of 77 million and we’re starting to take over the workforce as well (35% of the workforce by 2020). We’re here to stay, and I’ll be the first one to admit we bring some good qualities and some bad qualities. One thing that is for sure is millennials don’t put up with crap. Some people think that means we’re lazy, but that’s not true. We’re just efficient. Efficiency guides our lives, and that’s why millennial sales reps are starting a revolution by using Artificial Intelligence every single day. However, we’re sick and tired of being efficient at home while the workplace makes little to no progress.
Let me show you what I mean. I’m going to walk you through the day in the life of Jackson, a millennial sales rep. This will show let you experience how poorly business are at adopting automation and AI.
Jackson wakes up at 6:00am in his apartment to get his exercise in before work. He hates waking up in the cold, but he also hates to waste energy. Jackson’s friend convinced him six months ago to invest in a climate control technology called Nest. Rather than try to figure out when to adjust the thermostat to ensure he doesn’t freeze at night and then try not to forget to turn off the thermostat before work to conserve energy, Nest does it for him. At first, Jackson had to manage the system but it quickly learned his preferences and his schedule. With its built-in sensors, Nest now keeps him warm at night and conserves energy by properly regulating temperatures when he’s outside the apartment.
Jackson tries to get a few miles of running in each morning before work and he prefers to do it outdoors. By 6:30am Jackson is out the door on a run with Vi, an AI personal trainer that coaches Jackson through headphones as he performs his morning run. There are four options Jackson can choose from with Vi: Distance Run, Time Run, Free Run and Cycling. Choosing Free Run and using voice commands for Vi to begin, Jackson starts his run. Vi provides real-time coaching and updates throughout the entire experience.
It’s time for breakfast, but Jackson has never been a breakfast person. He prefers to drink a healthy smoothie and then catch an early lunch. The problem is, he doesn’t have time to shop for all the ingredients and prepare them before he goes to work. Thankfully, Jackson found a company called Green Blender. Green Blender ships perfectly portioned, locally sourced ingredients to Jackson so all he has to do is blend. The service sends ingredients for five new recipes every week and includes a brief write-up on the nutritional value of each drink. Jackson’s favorite thing is the price. It’s so much cheaper than the local juice bar and the time saver is incredible.
Jackson is off to work by 8:00. It’s only a 15-min commute to the office, so he’s found it unnecessary to buy a car. Instead, Jackson uses the ride-sharing service Uber to get him where he needs to go. The best part about the drive is the ability to listen music on Spotify. This music streaming services gives Jackson access to millions of songs. The best part is, Spotify has learned what music Jackson likes, which makes the 15-in commute a great start to his day.
When Jackson sits down to start work, things change. Oddly, as a sales rep, Jackson isn’t supported by automation and AI, but rather he’s left to his own gut and intuition. Each morning Jackson starts his day by reviewing his “target account” list. He created this list by simply picking which accounts he thought were best in the territory. He was randomly assigned to a territory, and territories seem to change every six months. Jackson has had a hard time figuring out the best accounts, so he just tries to do his best.
As Jackson begins focusing on his subjectively chosen target account, he notices there are nearly 100 contacts associated with the account. Jackson has generally had luck with the CMO in his target accounts, but there is no CMO listed in the CRM. He randomly chooses some other roles in marketing that sound interesting, and he begins to prospect.
Jackson tries to prospect in the morning to keep his sales pipeline full. His colleagues tell him “cold call is dead,” so Jackson tries not to make phone calls when he doesn’t know who might answer on the other end. Instead, he spends roughly five minutes per contact trying to Google and learn more about the person and the company. Jackson doesn’t know if it’s better to email, call, or send social messages to a prospect, he just knows he prefers to email.“Who wants to get random phone calls,” he thinks. Jackson therefore spends a lot of time writing emails and he tries to make them personalized and relevant to the contact that he’s sending the email to. He’s heard this is a best practice and since it feels right he runs with it. It’s not that Jared never calls, he does, but the phone numbers are often wrong. It takes Jackson a lot of time to try to find the right one so he ends up often just calling the main phone number for the company.
Jackson wants to go out for lunch today so he opens the app called Halla, a personalized restaurant and dining search engine. Halla is Jackson’s favorite food service app. It matches his taste preferences with entrees and dining experiences around him and it even recommends other similar restaurants. Jackson chooses a restaurant and grabs a few colleagues and they head out to lunch.
Before Jackson gets back to work he quickly checks the status of an Amazon order. Before he closes the browser, one of the Amazon.com recommendations catches Jackson’s eye. Amazon’s recommendation engine uses sophisticated algorithms that look at what people have purchased, liked, and reviewed. It also looks at what others have purchased, liked, and reviewed to recommend what customers might want to purchase next. Jackson, loves what Amazon is recommending so he puts the item in his cart and decides to review it later.
Today, Jackson has a one-on-one meeting with his manager so the two of them find an empty meeting room. Jackson’s manager pulls out the note pad he uses to conduct one-one-ones with his team and begins a conversation about strengths and weaknesses in Jackson’s performance. His manager shows him some printed copies of sales numbers. He also gives him a few pointers related to what he’s heard Jackson say on phone while sitting a few rows away from him. Jackson feels like the whole session is subjective but he’s gotten used to it.
Jackson is asked by his manager to interview a couple of sales candidates and provide feedback. Jackson asks if there is any material he should review. His manager hands him a resume and says, “just see if you like them and then come tell me if you think they are any good.” Confused at how he’s supposed to determine that, Jackson decides to proceed anyways.
Jackson finishes up his day with a few scheduled calls and then makes sure he captures some of the day’s activities in the CRM. The CRM is probably the most confusing part of Jackson’s job. It’s like a big excel spreadsheet. Jackson has never received any value for all the data he’s entered in it. However, his manager insists he use it so Jackson does the minimal possible amount.
Jackson’s buddy offers to take Jackson home if he’ll go get some dinner with him. Jackson agrees and they fine a restaurant using Hella and get on their way. On the way to the restaurant there is a major accident that would have caused a 30-min delay but thankfully Google maps alerted them of the slowdown and recommended they take a much quicker alternative route.
It’s time to blow off some steam so Jackson sits in front of his TV and opens Netflix, the popular streaming services for TV shows and movies. Netflix recommends ‘Stranger Things,’ a show friends at work have talked about so Jackson sits back and prepares to check it out himself.
Jackson prepares to hit the sack, but he can’t help but wonder why everything is so efficient in his life except work.
“Why can’t automation and AI at home be like it is at work?” Jackson wonders. . .
Do I really have to guess which accounts and contacts I should focus on? Why can’t the system recommend them to me?
Why do I have to guess what method people are most likely to respond to? Can’t the system send an email when it’s most likely to get opened or recommend which communication method to use?
Why are 1:1 meetings with my manager so subjective? I need real-time feedback about how I’m doing based on actual data.
Are we really hiring based on people we like or don’t like? Why can’t we have an objective method for hiring that improves our chances of getting top performers?
When will the CRM empower me versus me always empowering it?
Confused that work is so far behind his personal life in using automation and AI, Jackson resolves to think about it again tomorrow and heads to bed.
Rather than read this and be surprised at how millennials lead their lives, look at the elephant in the room and join the sales revolution. Millennials are not stupid and they know when something is broken and sales is fundamentally broken.
You can try to have millennials do things your way but I’ll tell you right now… If it doesn’t work, millennials won’t keep doing it.
Let’s empower millennials rather than try and force them. Let’s join them instead of fight them. The sales revolution is happening now. Are you ready?
Check out our research paper on the State of AI to understand how users understand and perceive Artificial Intelligence.
- Xant Team