Gen Y v Gen XBoomers can’t afford to let Gen Y have the social selling advantage.

As a Boomer, I will never use technology like a Millennial. I didn’t grow up with a cell phone as an appendage. But I still manage to leverage technology (very successfully) in my sales process.

There’s a common misconception that people born before 1980 are not good with technology and don’t excel on social platforms. Not true! I’m obviously doing something right, considering I regularly appear on lists like the Top 30 Social Selling Influencers in the World and Top 50 Sales and Marketing Influencers. And I’m not the only Boomer featured on either list; in fact, Millennials were the minority on both.

Some magical algorithm working behind the scenes chose me for these lists. I haven’t the slightest clue how, nor do I care. There is tech I need to know and tech I don’t. But these honors didn’t just come out of the blue. They’re the result of a yearlong, systematic social media strategy—a combination of original content creation and sharing insights from other thought leaders.

Top of the Charts

In September, I attended the LinkedIn Sales Connect conference with 500 thought leaders. Each attendee received a chart with his or her Social Selling Index (SSI)—which was calculated based on four LinkedIn attributes:

  • Create a personal brand
  • Find the right people
  • Engage with insights
  • Build strong relationships

The average SSI for sales reps worldwide is 22.8. The SSI of Sales Connect attendees was 61.5. Mine was 81. This put me in the top 9 percent of all sales professionals at Sales Connect. Not bad for a Boomer?

Not bad, but I need to get even better.  I couldn’t believe I was the second most endorsed person in my LinkedIn network for referrals. I’ve never proactively asked for endorsements. But now I’m on a mission to move the needle to number one.  I’ve written many colleagues asking them to endorse me for referrals. I’ll ask you. If you think I’m tops for referrals, please endorse me for that skill on LinkedIn.

Why Is This Important?

LinkedIn research shows that sales professionals who have a high Social Selling Index are:

  • 51 percent more likely to exceed quota
  • Three times more likely to go to club
  • Promoted to VP 17 months faster
  • Creating 45 percent more opportunities per quarter than social media laggards



What’s Not to Love?

Technology does not seal deals or give salespeople an edge over competitors. Relationships do that.

But technology is an important part of how we live and work, so if Millennials are using a tool that is interesting and strategic, I’ll learn how they do it. I’ll need a tutorial, because new technology is not instinctive for me. Just don’t ask me to read directions, because I don’t learn that way.

I upgraded my iPhone 4 to a 5s. I appreciate the clear display and speed, but I still use it like the old one. No one’s showed me how to use Siri, and it hasn’t been important to me. I have very few apps on my phone—just the necessary ones, such as Starbucks, Twitter, LinkedIn, Buffer, Pulse, Dropbox, and an app that helps me find parking. No games and nothing to distract me from my work and my clients. My Gen X kids can’t believe I don’t have a ton of apps on my phone. Does having an app mean I’m more hip? I’m cool with the fact my 10-year-old grandson (Gen Z) can create folders on my phone, and I can’t. I think it’s great he can read instructions and assemble a model drone. It’s just not my thing.

I don’t value myself or my business based on how much technology I have. I use what works for me (like social selling). I don’t spend my time chasing the next bright, shiny objects. But I do stay informed, because I know I must continue to learn and adapt to change, or I’ll no longer be relevant.

What’s Next?

We can always improve. Each of us creates our own success. The social media landscape changes hourly. A strategy that worked yesterday might not work today and certainly won’t work tomorrow. Change is exciting. Social media is a place to begin a conversation and to begin a relationship. That won’t change. But my strategy, tools, and outreach must adjust if I’m to stay current.

I’m on it! How about you?

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What generation are you? And how do you successfully leverage social media in your sales process?

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Follow Joanne on Google+ or Twitter @ReferralSales, or connect on LinkedIn and Facebook.