I was having a really great conversation with a client the other week. We were talking about how things have changed with customers, particularly with the way they make purchases. As we talked a little more, the thought occurred to me that he was describing the very distinct differences that exist between the generations. I’m talking about the Traditionalists, or the World War II Generation as some refer to them, the Baby Boomers, Generation X, and the Millennial Generation, also known as Generation Y. Some of today’s most successful companies know that each generation is unique and wants to be managed, marketed to, sold, and served in the ways that are most comfortable to them.
Take for example, the Traditionalists who are people born between 1900 and 1945. They are an extremely interesting group of consumers who are patriotic, industrious, and proud. Here is the key to a successful sales transaction with this group. They are very loyal to brands. Once you have a Traditionalist as a customer, you usually have them for life. I think my Traditionalist mom is still using Tide laundry detergent despite the fact that many others brands exist on the market that might do an even better job for her on wash day. When selling to this generation, use respect and spend time with them to answer all of their questions.
Baby Boomers, on the other hand, are the largest group of consumers in the marketplace today. Born between 1946 and 1964, this group is looking to establish a connection with the sales representative. They want conversation and are looking for a greeting when they enter your business establishment. Ignoring what a Baby Boomer needs and wants in a transaction can cost you a sale. Oh, and don’t forget the thank you note. It is the cherry on top of the customer experience sundae for this consumer.
The third group of today’s consumers is Generation X who came into this world between 1965 and 1980. Generally speaking, for this group, it’s all about product knowledge. They are looking for sales associates who are better informed about the product or service they are purchasing than they are. They have probably already done their homework online, so skip the idle conversation about the weather or other current events and focus on helping them make an informed decision.
The Millennial Generation, born between 1981 and 1999, are the first generation to grow up in a totally digital world. Many of them know more about today’s products and services than most senior sales associates ever will. They will text, Google, or phone friends during the sales transaction to get more information if they have to so don’t be offended. Ditch the traditional concept of the customer experience for this group. It’s all about what’s new and exciting, ratings, and purchasing preferably online.
It’s complicated. A successful sales transaction may hinge on knowing what type of experience your customer is looking for. An informed sales associate is a successful sales associate so consider training in this area of marketing and customer service. Also consider the need for a tailored approach to your sales and marketing for each generational segment of your market. It may pay big dividends in the end.