Improve Your Millennial Selling Strategy with These Six Tips
Millennials tend to be on the receiving end of a lot of criticism. They’re the generation that never moves out of their parents’ basements, spends their life savings on avocado toast and values selfies over real-life experiences. And while all those statements are just sweeping stereotypes, one fact about millennials is true: They have taken over the workforce. The U.S. Bureau of Labor reported that millennials had overtaken the majority representation of the workforce in 2015, and, by 2030, they will make up 75 percent of the workforce. For your business, that means it’s time to think like a millennial when it comes to selling. To help you get started, we spoke to three experts on how to tailor your sales pitch to this tech-driven, fast-paced generation.
1. Stay Current
Millennial buyers want to make sure they’re getting the latest and greatest product. From tech advancements to new printing techniques, it’s important that you are knowledgable about what’s hot. “Keep up-to-date on new and unique products and capabilities,” advised Zackary Cavanaugh, owner and managing partner for Pickle Print & Marketing, Traverse City, Mich. “It is important for millennials to stand out and be unique. Being able to introduce these products first puts you on the top of their list when starting new projects.”
David Mills, creative director for Touchstone, Mason, Ohio, shared this sentiment, and added that millennials are looking for a seller that can anticipate their needs. “[Millennials] want to know that what they’re buying is on trend, if not ahead of the game, and that it’s valued and highly coveted in the marketplace,” he said.
2. Get to Know the Individual
There is no one-size-fits-all approach when selling to millennials, so be sure to treat each prospect as an individual when it comes to their business objectives. “You can’t lump every person who falls into the millennial age group into [one buying group],” said Mills. “Some are crazy bargain hunters, looking for the best quality/brand name at the lowest price. Some pay only retail because discounted means undesirable and post-prime. High quality, though, is usually universal across the board.”
Anne Meagher Watson, owner/distributor for Safeguard, Richmond, Va., agreed that you cannot generalize all your millennial buyers’ priorities. “ ... In my experience, this doesn’t change based on age group,” she said. “[Buying priorities] depend on the personality and the reason they are buying, as to what is most important for that order, whether it be price, quality, delivery, date, imprint ability, etc.”
3. Be Synergistic
Millennial buyers like when the selling process is a team effort. If you establish trust and provide insight into an industry that probably is unfamiliar to them, the sale will go much better. “Help inform them about the value-added service that your company can provide to them,” said Cavanaugh. “Millennials have grown up in a tech age where we can find anything on the internet. The goal is to always be creating a synergetic relationship, and a great way of facilitating that is when you’re able to offer things they would not have known or thought of by themselves.
“The most effective way to sell to millennials is to be a knowledge base for them,” he continued. “Since millennials are typically new to whatever their position is, I make sure to help them in as many ways as possible. Not only do we help guide them to reach their objectives, but we even help them with other business that can help in their development and give them realistic options for what they have to work with.”
4. Communicate Effectively
When it comes to selling to millennials, there are a few tactics that often prove more successful. “Millennials tend to prefer emails or texts over face-to-face and even phone conversations” said Mills. “You have to uncover their comfort zone and communicate with them inside those boundaries.”
Meagher Watson agreed that while it’s not a universal truth, email tends to be the way most millennials prefer to communicate. “… There are some millennials who just will not return phone calls, but will return an email,” she said. “You just have to learn how each person likes to communicate and go with that. I have found that to be flexible is best.”
No matter which communication method you settle on, Cavanaugh pointed out that you have to be forthright across all platforms. “Millennials like to communicate quickly and directly,” he said. “They do not like to call and talk to a different person every time. Many of my fellow millennial customers will communicate with me in several ways, even within the same day.
“There may be some texts sent back and forth, so we are on the [same] page, or we might set up a time to meet in person, schedule a conference call or start an email to get the ball rolling,” he continued. “The main importance is that my generation has the expectation that communication should be instant, and that we shouldn’t have to wait long periods of time for a response.”
5. Hire Millennials
It might seem obvious, but one way to make your business more millennial-friendly is to hire more millennials. “Having millennials in a sales force, I believe, is 100 percent essential,” said Cavanaugh. “I think that millennials are able to work with any generation, so I do not think it’s important to hire millennials just to sell to millennials, specifically, but to sell to customers of all ages. A large percentage of my customer base is from older generations, and other generations are looking to millennials for guidance in how to stay relevant in today’s market.
“One thing that millennial customers do get easily frustrated with is when we feel like we are working with someone [who] does not know what they are doing,” he added. “Typically, if a millennial is in a buying position, they have worked extremely hard to get where they are, and will expect that whomever they work with has done the same.”
However, do keep in mind that you may need to provide extra guidance. “I think it is good to diversify your staff when possible,” Meagher Watson said. “[Millennials] can attract markets that you might not have tapped into yet, but the younger the person, the more time they take to train.”
6. Use Social Media
In the world of millennials, social media continues to be a driving force in buying decisions. “If you need to reach millennials and you’re not advertising on social media, you’re going to lose,” said Mills. “It’s that simple. Millennials don’t browse print advertising, and when TV commercials come on, their faces go in their phones. If you’re not on their phones, you’re not reaching them.”
Cavanaugh agreed that social media is a great way to catapult your success with millennial buyers. “Millennials tend to be connected with numerous people in varying fields,” he said. “Being tagged in a post that showcases what we helped a customer achieve is a new type of ‘word-of-mouth’ referral that has introduced new and exuberant customers to us.”
While social media and clear communication are important, Cavanaugh provided some general guidance that will prove most valuable. “I believe the biggest difference in the millennial generation compared to the baby boomer or Generation X is how we view options,” he said. “The baby boomers and Gen Xers grew up at a time [when] there were specific places everyone went to make purchases, but that is not how it is for us. We, as a generation, have many more options on how/where we buy things, and we know our value as customers. That being said, when a connection is established and trust is earned, we tend to be extremely loyal.”