How to Sell to the Millennial B2B Decision Maker
What’s a millennial, anyway? The term is thrown around often these days, especially when someone young and famous does something regrettable. Think Miley Cyrus at an awards show, or Justin Bieber on a day that ends with ‘y’. While those pop culture luminaries qualify as millennials, they’re not really representative of the group as a whole. There are plenty of perfectly sane millennials out there, and they are growing up.
In proof that time really does fly, many millennials are now full-fledged adults. They’ve got careers, and they’ve leveraged their technological skills and internet savvy into promotions to decision-making positions. In fact, you might even be selling to them, which raises and interesting question. How do you sell to millennial decision makers?
The Millennial Buyer Persona
Any term that categorizes a whole generation is broad by definition, but there are some basic traits and habits that many millennials share. Let’s look at some of those common threads, and create a basic millennial buyer persona before we move forward with tips on selling to millennial decision makers.
- There’s not an exact year when “Generation X” ends and the “Millennial Generation” begins, but most observers place it sometime in the early to mid 1980s. So unless you’re dealing with a teenage prodigy, you’ll generally be selling to millennial decision makers who are in their late 20s or early 30s.
- Millennials grew up using the technology that now defines our world. Especially for younger millennials, there was no adjusting from pre-internet times to the digital age. The web has simply been a part of life, for as long as they can remember.
- Millennials often have broad interests, again thanks in part to technology. With a few keystrokes, they can learn about and engage any topic that grabs their attention. For some, this results in a short attention span. For others, it results in deep knowledge of an eclectic set of topics.
Selling to Millennial Decision Makers
The first thing to remember when selling to millennial decision makers is that they’re not some different species from another planet. Millennials share many of the same needs and wants of buyers from any other generation – courtesy, respect, professionalism, and a fair deal for all parties involved. They may use different tools and tactics on occasion, but they’re still trying to solve the same problems as a non-millennial B2B buyer.
- Embrace the many methods of modern communication that are second nature to millennials. You can close a deal through text messaging, video chat, online instant messaging, or email just as well as you can close with a phone call. Communicate in the way that’s most comfortable for your buyer, and you’re more likely to earn a repeat customer.
- Remember when packages actually took four-to-six weeks for delivery, and you could only listen to phone messages at home, on a cassette tape? Most millennials don’t. They’re used to a world with near-limitless channels of instant communication. You don’t have to respond right this instant, but if you wait too long, your millennial prospect will move on to a more responsive seller.
- Know the difference between professionalism and formality. You’ll encounter many millennial decision-makers who are serious about their careers and professional in their work habits, but prefer relaxed interaction to formality. That’s not an excuse to turn a sales meeting into a frat party, but it does open up different conversational tactics.
- Show value up front. Millennials have grown up in the age of big data, and even those who aren’t mathematically inclined tend to have a strong grasp of by-the-numbers value. Take advantage of that knowledge by showing the value of your offer in clear terms. A great attitude is important in selling to any buyer, but it’s of little use without a strong offer to back it up.
The real secret of selling to millennial decision makers is recognizing that they’re not so different from any other generation. They just happened to grow up in an era when the nature of communication and information-gathering has changed more dramatically than at any other point in history. As luck would have it, though, you’ve lived through the same transition.
So if you want to sell to millennials, the best thing you can do is operate on their level. Embrace the technological tools that have shaped the millennial generation, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Regardless of how you reach them and how etiquette has changed, the bottom line is that millennial decision-makers usually have similar pain points to any other buyer. Offer a strong deal in clear terms, and you’ll have their attention.