There's a rich and untapped abundance of great potential salespeople right in front of us – a group we usually disregard.
Just finished the book The Big Shift by Marc Freedman . It was written to show that the nation has an entire generation in flux, the 60+ crowd. In the US, 10,000 people turn 65 every day. They are the largest and richest portion of the population. The book proposes that this is a competitive economic advantage for our country. His words . . .
“If we act, the ‘encore years’ could well become a fulfilling destination – and the individuals flooding into it have the human capital solution to much that ails us in society. As we confront significant challenges in areas like education, the environment and health care, this windfall of talent could help carry us toward a new generation of solutions.”
The Old-Fart or Geezer Factor
In past decades, those 65+ were automatically classified as "elderly" or "retiree" or "pensioner," automatically written off as having no value in the workforce, (“They don’t even have a Facebook page.”) They were a throwaway segment. However, in today’s economy we’re recycling everything and finding new uses for old products. So . . .
Let’s re-think our situation as of 2012. Radio needs professional, committed salespeople, right? Here's my experience with most businesspeople in that age group. (Most, not all; see below.) In my experience, Boomers . . .
- While many in the 70+ group haven’t hooked on to Social Media yet, they are the undisputed master of the face-to-face call. Personal 1:1 relationships are their asset.
- Aren’t intimidated by titles such as CEO, COO or President and therefore cold calling on VITO is nothing to them.
- They understood better how business works, (Balance Sheet, P&L, overhead) an advantage both internally and when talking to a client.
- Have decades of business of experience and business knowledge - resulting in intuitive skills enabling them to pull ideas out of nowhere.
- Because of that experience, they’re more likely to also work smarter.
- Are extremely loyal to their employers - they want to see their younger managers and everyone around them succeed. (They’re grandparents.)
- Need less direction and attention than their younger counterparts.
- Usually have other sources of income like Social Security, IRAs or pensions and while not motivated any less by money, don't need a big guarantee.
- Most have Medicare or health insurance so you needn’t provide benefits.
- You can hire them as an independent contractor.
- Love victories.
The Value of Intuition
Intuition is defined as “direct perception of truth, fact, etc., independent of any reasoning process; immediate apprehension.” It’s also called “second nature” or “instinct.” It's the hard drive memory from all those years of experience. The outcropping of this is when a veteran just knows what to say to a client in a tough moment and they can answer objections quicker. Vets are usually better negotiators because experience has taught them how to size up a situation more accurately. Combat veterans and cops use this intuitive strength as a life saver.
Not all Boomers are equal.
Of course, most of us have the old-timer stereotype in mind. It’s a veteran sitting on a list and intractable to new ideas, especially digital. “You can't teach an old dog new tricks," said one. But that’s not the universal case. There are eons of Boomer workers with Facebook friends, Twitter followers. Conversely I’ve met people in their 30’s fitting the same description.
- When you interview them, ask if they have a Smartphone. iPad or a Facebook account. It’s not the most important question, but telling.
- Ask them about their past success. That’ll give you an idea of accounts categories where they’ll be successful. They seem to do extremely well in categories like Financial, Banking, Legal, Insurance.
- Ask them who they KNOW in the market. Clients, leaders etc.
- A retired auto dealer, GM or sales manager could be a goldmine. A retired, successful ad agency exec could be a platinum mine. Likewise grocery or Big Box retail. They understand those businesses – we don’t.
- Another group VP told me that they usually hire older people to turn over rocks. Nay, nay. Don't let them create their own lists and wander around cold-calling. Rather, sit with them and create a list of targets that need work at the client level. Like all other salespeople, they're most accountable when they have a monthly quota.
- Want to see what’s out there? There are 364 chapters of SCORE, the Service Corps of Retired Executives. see www.score.org and www.score.org/chapters. Check out the talent.
- Here’s where to find the book. You can get it for under $3 bucks. Amazon.com The Big Shift
There’s a goldmine of sales and admin talent right in front of us.