Monthly Archives: May 2016

Why Millennials Are Out-Selling Boomers and Xers

By Tom Silk


Much has been written about the annoying habits of millennials, and I myself have been known to tell my 20-something reps to get off Tinder and pick up the phone. As the head of a sales and marketing team that is mostly millennials, I’ve had my fair share of the well-documented annoyances of the younger generation, but I’ve also noticed something else. My millennials are selling better and smarter than many of our company’s older, more seasoned sales partners.

The Sales Landscape Has Changed

Historically, buyers relied on salespeople for information about products and services, so the salesperson needed to be “consultative” and provide expert advice on the industry, as well as the company and its offerings. Today’s buyer has already visited Google, Yelp and Consumer Affairs, and watched your case study videos before they ever speak to you. They may have already reached out to LinkedIn contacts who have used your services to get the inside scoop.

Older, more traditional salespeople still believe they are the main sources of information, and they miss completely that their job is to assist the sale rather than to educate the buyer. They are constantly trying to send materials and supporting proof that will make their case.

Millennials intuitively understand that this is usually a waste of time, because they have grown up using social media and the Internet at large to do research before making purchase decisions. The 28-year-old sales rep isn’t calling the buyer to educate them, but to assist and support them in their research and answer any lingering questions that have come up and to move the sale along.

The Buyer Doesn’t Want You to Take Them to Dinner

Another advantage the millennial salesperson has is that they intuitively take up less of a prospect’s time. They don’t set up in-person meetings just to “build relationships.” And the thought of having a formal call to answer a simple question when you can send a text message or e-mail is preposterous. Buyers love this!

As their manager, I love this too, because it means I get almost zero requests for T&E budget from my millennial team. They aren’t trying to take a prospect out to dinner to discuss our latest product features; they send them a quick text message with a link to an article that covers them. And the buyer doesn’t want to go to dinner with them, so they appreciate being allowed to take in this information on their own terms.

Buyers Are Just Like You and Me

Millennials largely grew up learning to treat authority figures as equals, and they converse with buyers as such. They are also less likely to have enough experience to be embarrassed by saying or doing the wrong thing, so they just go for it. Older reps tend to put the customers on a pedestal, which can feel uncomfortable and make for stilted communication. Today’s buyers react better when there is honest, human conversation rather than brown-nosing.

There is no doubt that less experienced millennials can learn a great deal from salespeople who have been at it for decades, but the more seasoned seller also has some adapting to do to reach the modern buyer. We can all take some valuable cues from millennials who have grown up in this new world of online research, texting and emojis. You might find yourself improving your sales performance while saving budget, paper and time

John Lapide #nwaMemberMondays

john and grandson lapide

‘Our strength begins with our farmers. With relationships dating back over 20 years…’ This statement, found on the Melon 1 website, reflects the value they place on longstanding relationships. This is also indicative of the value founding partner, John Lapide of New York, places on relationships. The National Watermelon Association has been the happy recipient of John’s friendship and involvement for over 13 years.

John Lapide is the epitome of  hands-on leadership. He served the Association as President in 2009-2010 and as an officer for four years. He is currently an active and engaged leader on our Executive Committee as well as the Co-Chair of the Auction Load Committee. John is also involved as a member of the Budget, Food Safety, Nominating, Liaison, Public Affairs, Research, Promotions, and Convention Committees.

You can see that John Lapide jumps into everything he does with both feet. We’re proud to call John a member of our ‘Watermelon Family’ and appreciate his hard work on our behalf. His family is also proud of him; here’s what they have to say…

“As with most people who grow up with a family business, John began working at a very young age. I met John in college in September. Right away I knew he was “the one”, so in December, I proposed and he said yes. After we got engaged, he wanted to introduce me to the business, so for Easter vacation I went to his home on Long Island. Every day we worked with his mom, dad, brother & grandfather. We were there at 6 in the morning and stayed as late as 1 am one day for a delivery, working side by side. John talks about going to his high school graduation, going out for a quick to lunch to celebrate, and then all the men leaving to go back to work. There have always been long hours and very few days off in this life. Following in the footsteps of the hardworking men in his life he admired, his grandfather, great-uncle and father, John has always been dedicated, had pride and a genuine love for the watermelon life. Over the years I’ve seen a real passion grow in him. He’s always educating himself on the newest technologies and methods for growing and ways to combat pests and diseases. He has a close working partnership with all of our farmers to ensure the successful futures for all of us. When he served as President of the NWA in 2009, our children attended the convention and it was a really proud moment for him. The next year in 2010, our daughter Patty & her husband Jeff,  came to work for the business in Brooklyn. Since then, Jeff has begun to run our shed in Hamilton, NJ and Patty has been working to raise the next generation of watermelon brokers – our grandchildren, Nate, Ben & Autumn. Our youngest daughter, Marian, has recently expressed an interest in learning about what we do and I think nothing would thrill him more than to have both Marian & her husband, Peter, become involved with the business and help carry on the legacy.”  – Alisa Lapide

“Growing up, I didn’t really know or understand exactly what my father did for a living. I knew he worked really long hours and that meant missing out on a lot at home. When my grandfather passed away when I was 17, I saw a man who I couldn’t believe could possibly work any harder do just that. Going on the road and growing our business by partnering with farmers and long time friends to begin paving the road for the business as it is today. Now that I’m an adult and have a better understanding of what he does I have a tremendous amount of respect for the sacrifices he made when I was younger. Because of that hard work we have an amazing business that has been able to support and employ our family. Family is the most important thing in the world to John Lapide. Every decision he makes is made with careful consideration of how it will impact not only our “blood” family, but our “watermelon” family. Every time we expand or build a new packing shed, it’s to build the future for our family. I’ve never seen this more than since the birth of my children. Anyone who knows John, knows that my three kids, Nathaniel, Benjamin and Autumn are the main driving force behind his determination these days. I’m so thankful that all his hard work has paid off and he’s now able to spend time with them and enjoy their childhood because he’s earned that privilege. I know I’ve painted pretty lovey -dovey picture of him – and it’s definitely not all sunshine and roses.  But my father is passionate about this industry, it’s future and guaranteeing the best possible future for all of us.” – Patty Lapide Osterle

The stories that many of us could share would take up volumes of pages to cover them all, yet missing so many. What i have come to know is a man that has a fierce passion to do what is right for the association. I fondly remember a phone call just a day after he had brain surgery (that may explain things) a few years back to remove a tumor. The knuckle-head that I gladly call my friend was selling watermelons within hours of that surgery. Work-a-holic? However, I witnessed a sensitivity arrive when he became a grandfather. He still remained fiercely competitive and passionate, but those grandkids are definitely in control.  And, maybe that’s a good thing. – Bob Morrissey


Thank you for your service John.

lapide family



Millennials In Produce

It’s no secret that Millennials are exceptionally different than the generations before them. Technology has given them different eyes with which to see the world. Their approach to life and all the aspects in it is so distinctly different that many struggle to relate to these “new-comers”. Their work style is foreign to Baby Boomers and Generation X. It leads us to wonder how the next generation will affect our industry, the produce industry, in years to come.

First Class of Future Watermelon Farm Leaders - Wiggins, Singletary, Page and MooreGeneration Y people want to enjoy their lives and the time that they spend, whether the time is paid or not. They tend to lean towards jobs that are interesting and fun, that don’t necessarily “feel” like work. As a recently employed millennial, I understand the draw to find a position that is intellectually engaging but is still enjoyable. Fortunately, for me, I have found an occupation that does just that and so much more. I get to use my creativity and (will) work with others to get major projects done correctly and working fluidly. My job is fulfilling and makes me feel as though I am working towards a greater purpose than just myself. That greater purpose and feeling of fulfillment is key to Millennials.

Millennials have a higher job turnover rate than their parents and grandparents. Perhaps this is because they are trying to find something that they enjoy and feel is worth sticking with. Fortunately for me I have found the “perfect fit” for myself. For the produce industry it’s important for us to appeal to the younger generation. With only 3% of college graduates choosing positions in agriculture we NEED to draw them to us and make these future employees want to stay and grow with our companies, association, and industry.


If we provide these future employees with incentives for working in our companies, we can anchor them in and create a future for this industry. These incentives can be, but aren’t limited to, flexible schedules, professional development, training, team work and collaboration. Many of these incentives are beneficial to the companies too. Things like professional development and training will only create better workers and work environments.

The double edged sword of Generation Y is that they will require us to change, but all the while we need them. Without them we can’t proceed into the future. They may present some obstacles, but change is inevitable. Millennials can revolutionize and bring new ideas and technologies to our industry. Generation Y will help us bend and work with our ever-changing market.

Kelli Wilder

Harthin, Carrie. “Connect. The Network Media Partners Blog.” » Driving Millennial Engagement. Network Media Partners, 02 May 2016. Web. 06 May 2016.

College graduate agriculture job statistic. Digital image. Facebook. Adam Putnal, n.d. Web.
Digital image. N.p., n.d. Web.