Successful customer relationships for the Baby Boomer generation were built on trust and loyalty. Their sense of independence carried over to the workplace, allowing them to develop relationships with customers as they saw fit.

“Customer relationships started as a blank canvas, and the salesperson created a unique environment to get that customer interested in wanting to do business with you,” says Pancero. “Today it’s not an artist environment. It’s a paint-by-numbers environment.”

This new structured environment is due in part to the next generation’s expectations and values.

“Millennials really want to be part of a social team to provide them a career path, and they want mentors and coaches along the way,” says Newton. “They want to be developed by their company and expect help doing that. Long gone are the days that sales reps spend 60 days on inside sales, and then someone throws them a book, keys and an order pad and tells them to hit the road.”

Furthermore the Internet’s fast access to information is also changing the sales landscape, and reps need pre-created processes to help keep up.

“If a Baby Boomer’s customer didn’t know about a competitor it wasn’t a problem,” says Pancero. “Very rarely would they know all the vendors in the marketplace. But today, you can use Google to find out everything about competitors. So there’s a complexity and speed of business that doesn’t allow you to be creative and inventive every time you see a customer.”

Unfortunately, many distributors are ill prepared for this new approach to selling and Millennial-friendly workforce environment.

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