In this article series, our intent is to help Sales Leaders and their teams get ready for the changing Sales and Buying Demographics by the year 2020.
In previous articles on this topic we’ve discussed the major workforce changes coming to sales teams as Millennials enter the workforce and Baby Boomers retire. In fact, by 2020 a whopping 50% of the workforce will consist of Millennials! Not only will they be the largest age group in the workforce, they will also have the largest spending power. This means the buyer of your products will have shifted, and therefore, your sales strategy should as well. However, before you can shift your strategy you must understand your buyer.
Millennials have a different thought process when buying, and it’s important that your company understand what drives their purchasing decisions. Millennials are interested in companies that stand for more than their bottom line and consequently show them more brand love. When surveyed, 37% of Millennials said they would purchase a product or service that supports a cause they believe in―even if it costs more. This helps humanize the company, and makes them appear more authentic to Millennials.
The digital age has changed the way that all age groups choose to buy, but none more so than Millennials. Certainly brick and mortar venues are still frequented by Millennials, but online shopping receives a large portion of their spending. It is common for this age group to practice the “showrooming” approach, where they visit the brick and mortar store, check out the product, and shop online for the best deal. They also use online shopping as a preemptive strategy when shopping. They’ll check out reviews, ratings, and prices online before going to buy the product in-store. This is the same when it comes to a B2B company. Millennials will likely research the company online to see how trustworthy they are. 72% of Millennials say online search engines are their most trusted source for information.
A common concern among most sales professionals is Millennial’s lack of brand loyalty. However, Millennial buyers can be remarkably loyal as long as they feel they are treated right. The most obvious way to increase brand loyalty is to have a reliable, quality product, and to have great customer service. Millennials want personalized treatment and to feel welcome when they are considering whether to buy a service or product. They also say that the most frequently used sources of information include: industry analysis 38%, vendor face to face meetings 36%, and vendor websites 33%. This is significantly less and Baby Boomer or Gen X.
Millennials also have a different view of advertising. Only 1% of 1,300 surveyed by Forbes stated that advertising would make them trust a brand more. They value authenticity over content and view advertising as manipulative and inauthentic, which is why they tend to ignore banner ads and use ad skipping programs to avoid video advertisements.
Given that Millennials have very different buying habits among the retail and B to C buying spheres, they will likely have different buying habits among the B to B sphere as well. Here are some tips to start selling to the Millennial.
1. Customization is key. Millennials want to feel unique and a great way to do this is to make them feel welcomed―whether it’s upon entering a store, or when making a sales call―a personal connection and authenticity can do wonders. Establishing a rapport is one of the crucial 8 steps of every sales call. It is also important to make them feel like they are getting an experience or personalization that is specific to them. Make the interaction special.
2. The buying process should be as seamless as possible, and provide the customer with direction along every step of the way. Yes, this means more pre-work on your end, but it will ultimately save time and headaches in the long run. Make sure that all your different media channels are in sync. This means everything from your website, to Facebook, to Twitter to the emails you send them. This will create a better buying experience for the customer and will help strengthen your relationship with them.
3. Establish a bond of trust with your customer by offering a quality product or service, and build upon this relationship. Remember, they value products that enhance their lives, and an authenticity to their transactions and conversations. Deliver both and they will likely reward you with loyalty to your brand.
4. Provide them with external resources. Millennials do a staggering amount of research before buying. This research includes information on the product, customer reviews, testimonials, and cost comparisons. They place the most value into their own peer’s testimonials, and feel a need to pass along their own experience, which is why many feel responsible to review products after buying them.
5. Promote the ways in which you give back to society. Many Millennials consider this to be a driving point when choosing which company to purchase products from.
As Millennials gain buying strength in today’s markets, selling strategies will need to change to accommodate this incoming market. Fortunately the workforce will also be in transition during this period and more Millennials will be placed into selling positions. Millennials have a good understanding on how their generation works and will be able to develop new ways of reaching their selling market.