Become a “Generational” Salesperson

Apr 7, 2022

In Hans Rosling’s book “Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World–and Why Things Are Better Than You Think” he points out facts that map back to his belief that our world has improved tremendously, and that we are in a better place.

Hans explains the world can be viewed in four levels- measuring drinking water, transportation, cooking, eating, and sleeping.  Extreme poverty is level one and the highest living standards is level four. According to his studies, the world is experiencing the most rapid movement into the upper levels and in the last twenty years, poverty worldwide has been cut in half.

He also describes the major changes in social interactions that are affecting the world today. There has been no other time in history where generations have gone through as many changes in a lifecycle as we are today.

When I started in commercial real estate sales in 1984, it was predominantly comprised of older caucasian men. As a newbie to the industry, you respected their experience and tried your best to learn from them. You were expected to wear the customary blue suit, white shirt and red tie with polished shoes.

Fast forward to 2022 and my world as a commercial real estate broker would appear completely foreign from the days when I first started.  There was recently a broker’s showing for a large office building. It was the first such showing since COVID hit. With our market struggling, the expectations are more parties will be happening for the brokerage community.  If you attended such a party back in 1984 it would like more like a black-tie affair. Every broker would dress their best and competitively promote themselves against their peers.  Today, even the highest ranked seasoned brokers in our market showed up in casual clothes as they do now to show their properties to clients.

Salespeople need to better consider the rapid changes that are affecting each generation of clients they are selling to.  My generation tends to be a little behind on the trends and are only now learning about Tik Tok, client communication via text message, and social media. The rapid changes in simply how we communicate has distanced generations instead of bringing us closer together.  The world I was describing above is only relevant to my generation and you must live it to truly understand it. In our time, you couldn’t possibly sell with anything but in-person and face-to-face with your clients.

On the flip side, today’s generation of salespeople don’t understand the importance of face-to-face conversations and its more about data-sourcing to learn as much about the client ahead of meeting them so that you maximize your time with them.

When I got started, I learned from the generation before us. While my generation today should be now offering guidance and advice for our newer salespeople, I find we are often overlooked. Very rarely am I asked how to do something any better found on a You Tube video.

For Salespeople to truly succeed they need to remember how fast our world in changing and consider what generation they are selling to and learn how best they would like to be communicated with.  Never assume that all generations what to be approached by a text message.

Image via Pexels


Written by: Hans Hansson

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Hans Hansson is President of Starboard Commercial Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 35 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email [email protected] or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website,