An interesting thing happened about 18 months ago that stayed off the radar of nearly everyone except demographers: the American Millennial generation surpassed the Baby Boomer’s as the country’s largest living generation. While there are endless column inches written about the cultural implications of this, there are fewer interpretations of what this might mean to the world of business, and specifically workforce optimization.
In a recent blog for Huffington Post (News - Alert), Amanda Schnelder highlighted a curious parallel between the rise of the Millennial worker and a drop-off in the software utilization of InsideSales.com’s sales acceleration platform based on an article that appeared in the December 1, 2016 edition of Workplaces Magazine. It’s a parallel embraced by Dave Elkington, CEO and Founder at InsideSales.com (News - Alert).
Your first thought might be, “Huh? What do Millennials have to do with sales acceleration solutions?” A lot, as it turns out, and it’s all centered around the way different generations use data. InsideSales.com, which is built on Neuralytics, uses technology to passively analyze a company’s workflow and prompts behaviors to maximize sales activities. It’s all based on data, of course. The solution is widely used by the Fortune 1000 to drive sales rep performance and make buyer personalization easier, as well as predictive sales communications.
“We are a company that is enamored with data,” said Elkington in the article. “We are always digging in and analyzing behavioral trends and how people are influenced by what is happening in the environment around them; everything from rain, gas prices, or even a win by a local sports team.”
When utilization of the solution went into decline a year and a half ago, the company began to do some investigating. (Using data to find answers is, after all, what they do.) They believe the change has to do with the rise of millennials in the workforce.
“What we found was 18 months ago we had a generational shift where more than half the selling workforce worldwide became Millennials,” Elkington told HuffPo. “The people now selling at these large companies are largely under 26 and largely behave very differently than Boomers or Gen Xers. While you can find much data to support this, we actually SAW the shift in utilization. Our data tells us that the way they sell, behave, and go to work is not evolutionally different, it is revolutionally different.”
Millennials, as it turns out, are more self-directed and non-linear. If they’re given a task, they want to accomplish it their way rather than be ordered to follow a prescribed list of steps that might be offered up by a process management solution.
“They don’t like to be constrained or forced to work within a box,” wrote Schnelder. “They do not want to be told, ‘here’s the piece of software, do this.’”
So what might this mean for the enterprise going forward? It’s not that Millennials don’t trust data – today, they run their lives on it, from allowing technology to pick their lunch destination to telling them when to exercise – it’s that they don’t want to be ordered around by data-driven processes. Because of this, companies like InsideSales.com may need to change their offerings to rely on passively collected data rather than self-reported data (Elkington notes that self-reported data is unreliable, anyway). As a result of the findings, InsideSales.com has introduced a product called Playbooks, a solution specifically designed to allow Millennials in sales to increase efficiency, save time, and drive revenue in a process specifically tailored to them.
“It is the first solution of its kind to passively follow reps wherever they surf on the Web, even across multiple browser tabs, giving immediate access to critical sales resources, no matter what Web site the rep is on,” wrote Schelder.
So will it help Millennials communicate, collaborate and sell more? That remains to be seen, but what’s clear is that the processes that worked for previous generations are increasingly irrelevant to the digital-from-birth generation.