A Little Help From The Younger Crowd Please

School is winding down in the coming weeks for students. Now is a great time to take advantage of young labor, but not because you can get them cheap! Rather, enlist the aid of high school and college students because they know what you don’t know. Sales is all about connecting with your customers and being able to do so as effectively as possible. The beauty of teenagers and younger adults is they know technology. More importantly, they know how others are using it. Regardless of what you sell or the sales model you and your company use, you can benefit from having the brains and insights of someone from a generation that has never known life without technical gadgets, tools and skills.

In my own company, we have always had at least one teenager or person in their early 20s on staff at all times. The reason is simple — they see things I don’t. Not that what they have to say is always relevant or even correct, but it does help you be more aware to how young people think about things that are relevant to your business. (And let’s not forget how proficient they are with all the technical stuff!) So, in those regards, a young person can be extremely important to your business.

One of the reasons I’m sharing this is the concept of “digital native” and “digital immigrant.” You have probably heard those terms, but here is a refresher. Anyone over the age of about 35 is a digital immigrant, meaning they have had to adapt to using new technologies. Anyone under the age of 35, however, more than likely has never known a day where technical gadgets weren’t part of their daily life. They are digital natives. Ask yourself this simple question, “If I am a digital immigrant, what is one thing I’m currently doing that if it were being done by a “digital native” would be done differently? (And vice versa, if you are a digital native.)” The key is paying close attention to what you can learn and then knowing how you can leverage it with your customers or use it to grow your business by attracting new customers.

Here’s the test I like to use to measure to determinewhich side of the digital divide you’re on. Keep in mind the answer is in not knowing what side you’re on but rather by knowing both sides:

What does the “#” stand for when you Tweet?
What is a fanpage?
What state was Ronald Reagan from?
Who is Margaret Thatcher?
Can you send a text message using your thumbs?
What does “QWERTY” stand for?
Do you know how to send photos via SMS?
Who was Richard Nixon’s vice president?

I’m sharing this is due to a meeting I had last week with an individual who was complaining out how difficult things were in his industry. He was telling me about how hard it was for him to attract new business. What he was really suffering from was a situation of trying to use sales and marketing techniques in today’s climate that were great 10 years ago. The market changed and this person was simply clueless. He was too busy throwing his body against the wall everyday trying to make sales. The only thing he had to show for it was a lack of sales. The answers he was looking for were really quite simple, but it required him to think like a teenager and embrace technology.

What is it you can change? What is it you need to change? What is it you will change? Let me know, send me your comments and along the way join me on Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook, or Google. If you’re “digitally engaged,” you’ll find me. If not then seek immediate help from a teenager.

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