The term “Millennial” has conjured up images of “kids” for so long, that it’s easy to still think of them as too young to be your target audience—no matter what you’re selling.
But you’d be wrong.
Millennials were born roughly between 1980 and 1994… meaning that the youngest are recent college graduates, while the oldest Millennials are both singles and parents closing out their 30s and holding leadership positions in companies and organizations. As the largest living generation, they are influential consumers, as well as decision-makers in corporate buying. That’s why it’s so very important to understand the buying habits and preferences of this generation so that you can remain effective and profitable as their influence grows.
It may seem odd to start off a post about “how to sell” with the recommendation to “stop selling,” but it’s an important insight into the mindset of Millennials. This generation will certainly spend money, but hounding them with “buy now” pitches won’t work. Millennials will always want to know why before making a purchase—either doing their own research or getting feedback from other buyers. If you provide helpful and extensive information about your own products and services, you’re more likely to earn the right to close a sale.
It’s also important to note that while Millennials are very brand-loyal. So if you win them over for the first sale and delight them with your product or service, you will have a repeat, and perhaps lifetime, customer.
Communicate the Way Millennials Do
Where do you currently advertise? What is your call to action? If you’re relying on making customers call you, or talking to them over the “old fashioned” airwaves (TV/radio), then you’re not talking to Millennials.
The favorite communication methods of Millennials include texting and messaging apps and services, and social media. They do still use email, and phone calls, and will patron local businesses in person. But digital communication and online research are their preferred first steps. Just as with the sales pitch, the more information you provide on your website and internet properties as “self-service,” the more you earn the opportunity for customers to connect with your more personally (such as over the phone or in person).
Don’t Waste Their Time
Between the desire to get all the information on a product or service upfront, Millennials are accustomed to instant communication. They expect text messages and social media posts to be answered in minutes, not hours (and certainly not days!). So make an effort to be present in their communication, answer in a reasonable amount of time, and provide valuable content when you do answer—but keep it brief. Quality content is more important than quantity. Meet the need and then move on.
Remember that Buying Is Emotional
No matter whether your customers are consumers (B2C) or businesses (B2B), ultimately it is still people selling to people, and final buying decisions are never made merely on the merits of the product or service alone. The entire experience is considered, and human emotion always plays a role. Will this product/service meet my need? Will this company be good to work with? Does this product/service elevate my status with my peers? All of these questions and more are as emotional as they are practical, and they apply to both personal and corporate purchases. If you don’t consider the emotional part of buying as you try to sell to Millennials, you’ll come across as cold—and they’ll move on.
Millennials value authenticity more than anything. A real, transparent, and “human” brand is what they seek out—and they’ll develop relationships with the brands they trust and become loyal to. That also will make them some of your biggest advocates and ambassadors. Be available to them, and they’ll help you reach even more of the market you’re targeting.
Millennials aren’t just the upcoming generation anymore. They’re very possibly your core market. But their culture and experiences make their buying habits and preferences very different from previous generations. Understand them, get to know them, and speak their language, and you’ll gain loyal, influential customers that will push your company forward.