Every generation is a new challenge in the world of business, but none have changed quite so drastically as the transition from Generation X to Millennials. Millennials born between the early 80’s and 2000 according to the U.S. Census Bureau, grew into maturity during the pivotal years of development for technology that so many of us take for granted today—and they think very differently than their predecessors.
To entrepreneurs and business owners, this fact means an adapted approach to managing sales to the Millennial generation, most of whom are now major buyers in both the Business-to-Consumer (B2C) and Business-to-Business (B2B) realms.
The U.S. Census Bureau also estimates that Millennials make up about a quarter of the nation’s population—a significant segment of the sales market. Add to that the fact that many of them are old enough to buy for their own kids, and you’ve got a lot of buying power during that 20-year birth range.
For these reasons and others, business owners and marketing professionals need to understand how to sell and market to Millennials, because they don’t operate like their parents and grandparents, nor do they operate like their children.
Millennials are a transition generation: they remember what the world was like before computers and technology ruled our home and work lives, but they’re also fairly practical about the irreplaceability of those tools. It’s a unique position to be in, and one that sales professionals can use to their advantage.
Below are some insights on the mysterious mindset of the Millennial consumer—most of which actually make a lot of sense, no matter your generation.
- Loyalty through product quality. According to a recent Forbes article, some people think that Millennials lack the product loyalty of their forefathers. This is simply untrue. What they lack is blind loyalty. Millennials look for quality product. If they like what they see, they’ll keep coming back.
- Check the sales pitch lingo at the door. This generation has seen more sales pitches than sunrises. They don’t want to be sold to or talked at; they crave authenticity, quality, and caring. Show them something that will benefit them. Make it genuine, and they’ll respond.
- Content marketing—keep them coming back. Let’s face it: Millennials get bored easily. Use that. Create a marketing plan based around truly fascinating content, good visuals, and entertaining commentary.
- Take it online. Never underestimate the power of the internet, especially as it relates to sales potential. This should apply to B2B transactions as well. According to one source, 67 percent of Millennials prefer to shop online. Preferences of this nature also apply to workplace transactions and B2B circumstances, not just private consumer preferences.
- Give them something to talk about. Social media is a powerful tool for marketing, branding, and building customer loyalty. People talk, so give them something to talk about. Build your online presence and use it to generate conversation that will help grow your business. Millennials are paying attention.
- Make it shiny. With the internet, it’s all about the visuals. Invest in creative branding, imaging, and developing your own unique style. Good graphics are worth the time and money. They will draw plenty of attention to your site.
- Stand for more than your bottom line. Another key element to the Millennial generation is their concern for greater causes. They are generally suspicious of organizations that they feel are only in it for themselves. Pick up a cause, donate, and support something bigger, and your Millennial market will grow.
- Build a sales experience. Millennials are all about enjoying themselves in everything they do. With social media and the potential for generating big interest, you can build something incredible. You can even create a movement that engages customers and makes them feel like more than just faceless masses buying your product. They will make your marketing materials for you and help your business grow in ways you never predicted.
New generations might create different challenges for business, but they also usher in new perspectives and opportunities for growth. Millennials are the first of the tech-driven children, but they won’t be the last, so don’t let fear of the unknown stop you.
Exploring new sales language, new ideas, and new technological tools has always been the key to business success with each generation. Give the customer what they want, right? It’s an old idea that is definitely taking on new meanings in the current tech-savvy era, and Millennials were just the start. Imagine what the next 20 years will bring.
About the Author – Ashley Choate is a native of Jacksonville, FL where she lives with her son, dog, and three cats. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University with a BA in English and holds an MAED in Adult Education and Training. She lives for reading and writing, learning and teaching, and figuring out the day-to-day traumas and joys of mommyhood. .
Top Photo Courtesy of State Farm @ Flickr CC.