Why myths about generational differences hurt sales

Because of false assumptions, it’s easy for salespeople to misread a customer’s needs and aspirations.

“You surprised me,” the salesperson said. “How’s that?” I replied. “Well, you’re an older person and I didn’t think you’d be interested.” The pictures we have in our heads about generational differences surface in sales situations. The email from the Gap grabbed my attention, “The only slim fit you’ll ever need.” Needless to say, they were a few generations—and sizes—off!

Basing your sales approach on popular generational traits can be dangerous—such as Boomers are loyal and mature. Studies actually show a significant fluidity within generations. For example, there are many Millennials whose preferences range from Gen Z to the Silent Generation.

All of which suggests that it’s a mistake to assume the pictures in our heads about people and their preferences are accurate. Because of false assumptions, it’s easy for salespeople to misread a customer’s needs and aspirations. When it happens, it leads to missed opportunities.

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