Sales Has Changed Dramatically Over the Past Few Years and There IS Opportunity

Business meetingEach year, PrideStaff brings our strategic-partners/franchisees together for an annual conference, where we focus on education, training and growth strategies. We engage some of the world’s top speakers and business consultants to ensure each of our offices has the tools and information they need to be successful. One of our speakers at this year’s conference is Ryan Estis, a training and development expert who helps companies, leaders, sales people and individual contributors embrace change and achieve breakthrough performance in the new economy.

According to Estis, buyer behavior and sophistication have changed dramatically over the past few years. What’s influencing this rapid transformation?

  • Baby boomers are aging – and retiring.
  • Members of Generation X are now well established as key decision makers.
  • Millennials are being promoted rapidly through the corporate ranks.
  • The Internet (social media in particular) has fundamentally altered the way buyers perceive – and make decisions about – your company and its services.

Clearly, the way people buy is evolving faster than sales competency. This gap creates tremendous opportunity for staffing and recruiting firms.

How can you close the gap – and drive sales growth?

To succeed, you must adapt your strategy to the unique needs of each audience to which you sell. Consider, for example, the significant differences in the way boomers, gen Xers and millennials approach staffing. While neither group is entirely homogeneous, each has distinct values and mindsets that necessitate unique sales approaches.

PREMIUM CONTENT: the biggest missed opportunities in the staffing industry

Here are a few suggestions for selling more effectively to these three groups:


  • Build rapport. Boomers often prefer face-to-face communication. They need to feel comfortable with your salesperson before they can feel comfortable with your staffing service. Focus on developing relationships to win and keep their business. Use “high touch” over “high tech” educational and selling methods.
  • Get them to fall in love with your brand. Baby boomers are much more loyal than their younger counterparts. To get them invested in your services, tell them a good story that will make them “fall in love” with it.
  • Give them your undivided attention. Train account reps (especially younger ones) to focus their efforts when selling to boomers. Listen for their needs during the sales process. Unlike their younger counterparts, boomers expect you to do the work needed to understand them, identify their pain points and help them develop solutions.

Generation X

  • Avoid hokey tactics. Generation Xers tend to be wary of advertising and marketing, so use plain language to describe the services you provide. Explain the “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me?) – how your staffing services will meet their needs, solve their problems and make their lives easier.
  • Support your advice with research. This generation is more skeptical than boomers, so they’re likely to verify any information you give them. Use this to your advantage when selling to this demographic. Give gen Xers the facts, statistics and resources with valid information to support your claims.
  • Skip the “hard sell.” Generation X finds “hard selling” harsh and obnoxious. Instead, they prefer hearing who you are, what you can do for them, and what your staffing firm stands for, before deciding whether or not to trust your business. If you educate them and are honest with them, you will develop the relationships needed to move your sales efforts forward.
  • Make the investment. Members of Generation X tend to be more cynical and skeptical than other generations – but they’re also more loyal. Put in the extra time and effort needed to win over these clients, as they’ll likely turn out to be your most devoted customers.


  • Appeal to their practicality. Millennials will drop you like a hot potato if a better alternative presents itself. They don’t see this behavior as disloyal; they see it as common sense. Focus sales on the ways your services can consistently add value for these buyers – and help them stay ahead of the curve.
  • Keep communications short and direct. Unlike boomers, millennials respond to marketing messages with a “let’s get down to business” feel to it. Instead of small-talk and “feel good” story-telling, train account reps to adapt conversations to millennials’ pragmatic mindsets and shorter attention spans.
  • Make it easy for them to find the information they need. Boomers want you to uncover their needs; but millennials (like gen X-ers) are used to finding what they need on their own. Leverage their information-gathering tendencies (remember, “Google” is a verb for this group) by making sure you have concise, benefits-oriented messaging readily available anywhere they might search for it.

People born in different eras have different values. To win more business as our sales landscape continues to evolve:

  • Train salespeople to understand the unique needs of each group. Help account managers understand how to plan and structure their sales calls to appeal to different demographics. For example, teach them how to build relationships with boomers and gen Xers, while condensing messaging for younger prospects.
  • Provide the support sales reps need. Invest the sales and marketing dollars required to help reps sell effectively to each group. Older clients require more face-time; younger clients need easy access to clear information that helps them make informed decisions quickly.
  • Balance your sales and marketing activities to serve these competing agendas as buyer behavior continues to shift. While boomers are rapidly exiting the workforce, they are still in positions of great power – and will be for years to come. For the foreseeable future, you’ll need to straddle generational needs to drive continued sales growth.

MORE: Make the most out of a multi-generational workforce


Tammi Heaton

Tammi Heaton
Tammi Heaton is COO of PrideStaff. She can be reached at theaton (at) pridestaff (dot) com.

Tammi Heaton

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