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Don't Dismiss Millenials: They'll Soon Be Your Best Customers

As Millennials start to take up more of the workforce, solution providers need to step up their game when it comes to encouraging diversity in their business, says author Lisa Marie Jenkins.

There's a lot of buzz around Millennials and how they are drastically changing the workplace, but why is it important to solution providers?

In five years, Millennials will make up 50 percent of the workforce. In ten years, that percentage will jump to 75 percent. Why that matters to a solution provider, or any business, is that it will drastically alter the makeup of their employee base, Lisa Marie Jenkins, author and founder of Lisa Marie Jenkins LLC, said in a breakout session at XChange Solution Provider 2015 Sunday in Dallas, Texas.

Equally as important, Jenkins said, is that the influx of Millennials into the workplace will alter the makeup of the customers that a business sells to, so they need to rethink their entire go-to-market strategy in order to succeed.

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Jenkins said this shift is the next biggest change that the channel with have to contend with, in addition to the technology shifts it faces every day.

"If you notice the technology shifts are coming faster and faster ... but this people shift is even bigger," Jenkins said.

Millennials approach the workplace differently than their predecessors, Jenkins said. They are highly educated, born with technology in their hands, put faith in peer-to-peer interactions and put a high stake in creating a bigger impact through business. In order to accommodate this new way of thinking, solution providers are going to have to change their approach, Jenkins said. The old approach for nurturing new customers was to go find them, cold call them, meet them in the office and then build an implementation plan. However, Jenkins said Millennials flip that process on its head by doing all their research on a company they might work with before that solution provider even gets in the door.

However, that doesn't mean the sales process is completely out of the hands of solution providers when Millennials start leading decision making, Jenkins said. Solution providers can get ahead of the change by improving how they can be found by Millennials, she said.

"How can you be found is going to be critical," Jenkins said.

Jenkins recommended posting videos, celebrating charity and community initiatives and emphasizing how technology can drive productivity results to help catch the attention of new prospective Millennial customers.

Internally, Jenkins said solution providers need to open themselves to new practices around Millennials, especially when it comes to hiring new talent. Bringing more Millennials on board will help drive more strengths within the company, she said.

"Strength lies in differences, not in similarities," Jenkins said. "We need to hire what complements our weaknesses. That’s a really conscious thing to do. That’s what a leader does."

Jenkins said that same methodology can be applied to increasing gender diversity in the workplace. She said some of the desirable traits that women bring to the workplace are: expressiveness, future planning, reasonableness, loyalty, patience, intuition and collaboration. She said a business looking to go to the "next level" would benefit greatly from bringing more women on board.

"Respect the diversity and realize that’s ultimately the strength," Jenkins said.


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