I was going to write about the changing face of the modern salesperson – how the cocky, aggressive salesman of the past (big on spiel, vague on details) is giving way to a quieter, socially smarter breed. As I started to write, I realized it’s impossible to talk about how the salesperson is changing without also writing about the changing customer base.
Yep, you guessed it: I’m talking about Millennials. Digital natives with a penchant for selfies and a social conscience, voted most likely to live at home into their 30s. In all seriousness, this generation is having a huge impact on the economy and their attitude towards purchasing decisions is changing the face of sales and marketing. You only have to look at how businesses are implementing social media strategies to see that adapting to the millennial customer is essential.
Millennials: what kind of customer are they?
In this great infographic, Goldman Sachs states that 57% of US Millennials will do a price comparison while in store. Take that mentality to the purchasing department and you have some idea what the modern salesperson is facing.
Millennials have been described as risk-averse – the result of growing up during a global economic downturn. This same experience has led to a mistrust of big business and an emphasis on ethics, transparency and honesty. Being almost always online, the Millennial buyer can easily access product specs, reviews, prices, etc. and is as likely to care about the ethos of the business you represent as the products you’re selling. Research carried out by Millennial Marketing shows that brands that stand for more than their bottom line will receive greater brand love.
With all that in mind, let’s take a brief look at what this means when crafting the perfect pitch for the millennial customer.
Your customer is well-informed. You should be too.
Millennial or not, easy access to information has changed the way the customer approaches a purchase. They’ve already Googled your product specs, so by the time today’s customer is ready to talk to a salesperson, they are looking for something more.
Your pitch needs to be tailored to their business, which means you need to go into that meeting knowing everything you can about their company, their competition, and their challenges. Utilize all available resources, including social media, to identify their pain points so that your pitch illustrates how exactly your product meets their needs.
Your customer is a person. So are you.
It’s not just your pitch that needs to be personalized – your whole sales approach needs to embrace a more personal style. Being sensitive – a word often thrown around with a heavy dose of scorn when describing Millennials – just means being thoughtful, sympathetic and perceptive. I’m sure you can see how these traits could be helpful in the sales conversation when trying to identify exactly what your business can offer.
This Salesforce article describes the six essential skills of the modern salesperson, including emotional intelligence. In particular, the article states: ‘Today’s informed buyers don’t want to be sold to – if they sense empty rhetoric, they’ll put up their defenses. Solid facts and personal relevance will earn their respect’. Amen to that, as the Millennials say. (Possibly.)
Your customer is your partner, not your prospect
We’re as guilty of using the word ‘prospect’ as the next sales and marketing blog, but the truth is your customer doesn’t want to be seen as a prospect, which suggests a kind of ownership and an imbalance of power. You’ve read the articles: Always be closing is no more. The new sales mantra, if you’re sticking to ABCs, is ‘Always be collaborating’. How can you help the customer achieve their goals?
This extends beyond the initial pitch, when you’re illustrating all the ways you can help solve your customer’s problems. It is now the framework to your entire relationship. You check in from time to time to see what they’re working on and if you can help. You become their go-to person for bouncing ideas around. You talk to maintain the relationship, so that when their need arises they call you. There’s no doubt that this is the future of sales, simply because this kind of connection can’t be automated.
Digital natives expect modern technology
Going back to Millennial Marketing: 56% of Millennials report that they are usually one of the very first or are in the first group to try a new technology. Maybe that’s you, reading this and considering bringing a sales enablement platform into your business. Or maybe it’s your customer, discreetly rolling her eyes as you flap from one document to another, searching for the magic marketing presentation that’s going to convince her to buy with you. Perhaps she’s checking messages on her smart watch while you struggle to get your video to load.
Don’t be left behind on digital. It creates a negative impression of your company that you just can’t afford. Image is important to Millennials – to all of us, really – and a smooth, sleek presentation is the best representation of a smooth, sleek business.
A sales enablement platform can give you that professional appearance, while also enabling you to properly manage and optimize your marketing collateral to make every conversation count.