I’m hearing, reading and getting more comments about companies not wanting to hire “older” salespeople. No one over 55 is desired for sales because the belief is that “they can’t keep up with the younger generations.” “They are a health insurance liability.” Help me here. How is “keeping up” defined? Since when is energy level a function of age? Agreed, there is some natural slowing physically. But so what? Since when does selling successfully mean only high energy? Energy level is worthless if you can’t get to work on time and it doesn’t bother you. Style is meaningless if traveling and prospecting is demeaning to you. Urgency is a deterrent if your customer is lower energy. Competitiveness is foreign if you always “won” and got a trophy because you simply showed up! All this behavioral emphasis when other factors are far more important for sales success. Like values, experience and attitudes. Especially attitude! You know those personal skills honed by time. Oh yeah, you may also hear…“those boomers are not ‘wired’.” “They’re not computer savvy.” Does savvy mean sending endless inane texts so I don’t have to speak to anyone? Is that how relationships are built? Is my value defined in terms of the dexterity of my thumbs? I have spent extra time becoming more computer proficient and Internet savvy. Many other ‘over 55’ sales professionals and I have embraced electronic marketing, selling, as well as blogging. And, while at times I have felt frustrated and wanted to resort to my “always ready” legal pad, I know success demands I use these tools. You want speed or rapport? Knowing what to do when is more valuable than behavior. Having well developed values, personal skills, knowledge, and real world involvement is more productive than a fast rookie. Not that rookies should be avoided. However, professional, experienced salespeople should be welcomed and valued also. Especially when they WANT to sell! And CAN! And bring unique value others can’t.
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