5 Musts When Selling Print Solutions to Millennials
A few weeks ago, I spoke to North Bay Leadership Council’s Frontliners group about “Why Millennials Aren’t Listening to You”. My focus was communicating with millennials (1) as employees and (2) as customers. After wrapping up my talk and preparing to leave, one of the millennial attendees in the room approached me and said, “It was so refreshing to actually hear a millennial talk about millennials. I’m so sick of people over the age of 50 telling me what it’s like to be my age and telling me all the things I should be doing. What do they know? The world is different now.”
This really stuck with me. I’m the only millennial on my sales team at The Sourcing Group. We have encountered an increasing number of millennial procurement and marketing buyers in the last 12 months. How is my “seasoned” sales team going to appeal and sell to these millennials?
What’s the most effective way to sell to millennials?
In Q2 of this year, I signed a client based in San Francisco that services the restaurant industry. The company was founded by a group of guys in college. Their college project was such a good idea that they turned it into a legitimate business that now has over $120MM in funding (not too shabby for a college project turned business). Their executive team and staff is made up, almost entirely, of millennials. I feel old around them, and I’m only 33 years old.
While going through the process of closing their account and implementing their print portal, I discovered five must do’s when selling to millennials:
1. Keep it simple. Millennials do not read large amounts of information. Whatever you communicate should be very brief and include only the most important pieces of information. They quickly lose their focus and move onto something else, so remove the fluff. Focus on how your print solution is going to benefit them. Millennials want to clearly understand the direct benefit you will be providing them and their team. They don’t care that, 10 years ago, you once helped a hospital put their forms online. “Ancient history” is not relevant to millennials.
2. Be flexible with your time. For Millennials, standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. business hours do not exist—they work around the clock. Work and life are intertwined. They may want to do a call at 6 p.m. or send a text at 8 p.m. Try to have a flexible schedule. When scheduling meetings with a millennial, suggest several times. I like to give a couple of morning and evening options. I don’t mind working on weekends, so I offered a millennial client Sunday as a time to communicate and work on our developing website. Sunday afternoon was his work-catch-up time. The rest is history ... but not ancient history.
3. Text to communicate. Some millennials don’t like emails. This was a bit shocking to me at first. I’m a millennial, but email communication is still a big part of my day and how I sell. I would email my millennial client and he would respond with a text. I finally got the hint and asked if he preferred that I text him rather than send emails. He was so grateful and said, “I hate emails.” It’s important to ask a millennial how he or she prefers to communicate. Millennials also prefer informal communication—they don’t want to read memos or lengthy documents. They want to communicate with you like they do with their friends. Keep it light and personable.
4. Offer a mobile-friendly solution. Whatever online print solution you are selling, it must be mobile friendly. If millennial buyers cannot quickly find it, view it and use it, they will move on. Millennials do a lot of work on their phones and don’t want to have to use a computer to access a system. When I scheduled my first demo with a prospect, he said he was going to be outside the office and needed to do it on his phone. He had checked out our website and information about our company via cell phone.
5. Be transparent. Millennials want to know what their money is buying. They are price conscious, but willing to pay a fair market price. My prospect was talking to another large company with an e-commerce print solution. Even though our system was more expensive, he chose us because I provided an easy to understand cost breakdown, the number of hours required to do each task, and the benefit each functionality would have on him and his team.
I highly recommend that you have millennials on your sales team. Millennials like to buy from millennials—they want to be heard and understood. You should consider setting up a reverse mentor program where millennials mentor your “seasoned” reps. This will help them adopt practices that are better aligned with the younger generation of buyers.
“[Millennials] are more free-spirited. They enjoy outdoor recreation, the environment and are health-oriented. It’s about being able to communicate what we have to resonate with them. Hopefully, speak to them in their language as opposed to the language of the past.”
– Jan Rogers, former SIEDO director