Do a Google search for “how to sell to Millennials”, and a plethora of blogs and articles will appear with the best practices, tips, and secrets for selling to my generation. We even wrote some blogs and an eBook on the subject. We hosted a webinar, too. So, I’m definitely not here to tell you that these articles, eBooks, and webinars are a waste of a read or that you should disregard the advice in them. But I am here to discuss the difference between using that advice coupled with other resources to better your selling practices and blindly following the advice without regard to each client’s unique personality and needs.
See, you can’t rely solely on articles that generalize Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers, or any other generation. There are so many factors that go into a single person’s buying behavior, so what works for one Millennial may not work for the next. Why so many articles about selling to a specific generation, then? Because the generation we were born in can absolutely contribute to our overall purchasing behavior. Because those articles describe some general behaviors that might help sales people better understand us.
For instance, Millennials rely heavily on peer and online reviews before purchasing. Do all Millennials do this? No. Do members of other generations do this? Yes. But is it good to know that it’s possible many of your Millennial prospects will read reviews about your agency online before buying from you? Absolutely! Not to mention, these studies help sales people better understand how to reach and/or communicate with each generation.
What we’re saying is that there’s value in studying what makes each generation’s buying behaviors different, but you should also understand that buyers still deserve to be sold to without presumptions about the way they prefer to be sold to.
If you’re a good agent, you likely already consider each prospect’s unique personality and needs disregarding what generation they’re from. But, if you find yourself lumping certain generations into strict buckets, you might want to reconsider.
To illustrate my point (and for fun!), I asked some AgencyBloc team members to describe the generalization made about their generation that they feel doesn’t apply to them (or that simply bugs them).
Mike Ivory, Millennial
“That we are lazy. I’m not lazy.”
Sara O'Brien, Millennial
“That Millennials have no work ethic.”
Allison Babberl, Millennial
“That none of us want to own a home. I'd love a home, but I'm not financially ready because I'm still hanging out with my college debt and I don't want to buy a lawn mower/snow blower yet. Plus I'm trying to be fiscally responsible and buying a home wouldn't fit into that.”
Erica Kiefer, Gen X
“We’re labeled as this ‘forgotten’ generation; we’re sandwiched between the Boomers and Millennials. But our generation is actually the one that just does. We just get stuff done. So, maybe that’s why we’re not ‘noticed’. We’re doing everything behind the scenes.”
Cory Schmidt, Gen X
“I guess 'slackers' would be one. Unless that means ‘A user of Slack’.”
Steve Ogden, Baby Boomer
"That 'none of them have email addresses'; I have too many of them."
Dave Kline, Baby Boomer
"That LSD will create mutant offsprings. It did not."
All jokes aside, you can see that we hate the negative stigmas given to each of our generations. What we also hate is salespeople assuming they know us and how to sell to us. Bottom line: take advice from articles about generations with a grain of salt. There’s value there, but never forget to treat each prospect and client as an individual with their own personality and needs.
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