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6 min read
Welcome back to The Weekly Pitch! Our newsletter covers the stories that matter most to the sales community. Today, we welcome guest writer Korrin Bishop to share research and insights related to cross-generational selling.
In this week's Feature Story, Korrin identifies three small pivots sales pros can take to connect with buyers of any generation. Propose a face-to-face meeting with a Gen Z prospect, and they might react with a "can't tell if serious" GIF. Outreach with a Twitter DM could be futile with Baby Boomers. No fear, she breaks down all the trends!
In The Closer, we heard your feedback loud and clear after the last issue. Please give us more sales copy! This week we get bold and link to four prospecting templates – one for each generation (proposing the most effective channel).
Let's dive in with our chart of the week.
This chart, courtesy of Bluecore, breaks down where each generation prefers to check email. No surprise, the smartphone rules, but Gen Z is twice as likely as Baby Boomers to read our emails there.
With 55% of Baby Boomers ranking desktop or laptop as their preferred choice, a slightly lengthier information-packed sales email is probably okay.
For corporate buyers in their late 20's or early 30's, keep the sales messaging tightly wrapped inside a sales email (or consider another channel like social media or text).
By Korrin Bishop
From the demise of skinny jeans to “ok, boomer” memes, the internet loves to stoke the generational conflict flames. However, these “generation wars” are often oversimplified.
Below, we cover three sales trends that cross generations. Yes, some slight differences exist between Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers, but small pivots in our strategy and messaging can appeal to a broader range of customers.
Social media use, often attributed to Gen Z and Millennials, is widespread and increasing. Over 80% of Baby Boomers use at least one social media platform, and 74% of Gen X considers social media an essential part of their life.
Facebook is the most popular among Baby Boomers, whereas Gen Z and Millennials lean toward Instagram and YouTube, with TikTok increasingly popular within younger cohorts. Gen X, unsurprisingly, falls in the middle of the two generations with a preference for Facebook and YouTube.
Widespread social media use means effective ad targeting has the potential to increase sales across generations. However, there are a few distinctions to consider for our approach.
This group is more influenced to purchase based on their satisfaction with a brand’s customer service. If they have questions or need to resolve a problem, they’re the most likely generation to want to do so face-to-face or over the phone.
If initially targeting Baby Boomers via social media, ensure our sales strategy includes an easy, personal connection to well-trained, customer-focused sales reps who can answer questions, build trust, and close the deal.
Gen X consumers are more likely to purchase based on their education and excitement around a product. Sales teams should use social media to connect Gen X buyers with content supporting their self-driven product research.
For example, this generation appreciates how-to videos and hands-on tutorials. They’re interested in learning about a product’s in-depth details before making a purchase, so think through how we can shepherd them through that deep dive.
Millennials and Gen Z
Ninety-two percent of consumers trust recommendations from another person—even if they don’t personally know that individual—rather than content directly from a brand. Especially true for Millennials, 86% gauge a brand’s quality through user-generated content.
Millennials and Gen Z are social media savvy enough to identify a brand’s targeted ads. For these generations, that can come across as inauthentic. Sales teams will have better luck with this group by implementing strategies to:
Essentially, we want to use these generations’ peers to close more deals as a key referral source.
Online consumer spending increased 15% between the first and second quarters of 2020, driven mainly by the COVID-19 pandemic. While Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z were already online shoppers, the most significant shift to e-commerce during this time was among Baby Boomers, from 25% to 37%.
Sixty-one percent of consumers expect to continue shopping online due to convenience, but others plan to resume in-person shopping following lifted social distancing restrictions. How to engage our customers during this hybrid sales environment differs slightly by generation.
While increasingly making purchases online, Baby Boomers tend to appreciate the customer service aspect of in-person sales encounters. As consumer behaviors change with the pandemic, sales reps can embrace an omnichannel strategy to meet Baby Boomers’ online convenience and face-to-face relationship-building needs. Hybrid sales approaches can begin online and finish in-person, or vice versa.
Don’t be afraid to personally cold call or email Baby Boomers, but also be ready to connect them with seamless ways to self-complete your deal online.
Gen X once again demonstrates a combination of the different generations’ online versus in-person habits. The overarching piece for how to cultivate this generation comes down to offering a good deal.
Eighty-six percent of Gen X would try a new service or product if offered a coupon or discount, whether digitally or in-person. Around half also took advantage of the growing buy-now, pay-later features for non-essential purchases during the pandemic.
Sales reps can utilize digital features like sponsored messages through the Facebook Messenger app to offer special discounts to Gen X users or free trials and other buy-now-pay-later options. Text messages and even old-school mailers can work as well, so long as they offer a call to action that includes a good deal.
Millennials and Gen Z
Ninety-six percent of Gen Z owns a smartphone, and over half spend more than 10 hours per day on their devices. Additionally, while the average person sends and receives 357 text messages per month, millennials average 1,752.
These generations’ mobile focus makes texting a fundamental prospecting approach and other social media messaging options. Sales reps can leverage the high open rate for text messages to more quickly connect with customers in this age range.
However, these generations also value brick-and-mortar shopping and other in-person encounters as experiences to be had. Therefore, think through ways to make texting as experiential as possible. Consider texting them invitations to in-person events or unique opportunities where you can continue to build that relationship—and where they can even bring a friend along!
While different generations may establish brand loyalty for various reasons, all seem to enjoy doing so. Knowing how each relates to brand loyalty can help sales reps not only recruit but retain new customers.
Baby Boomers and Gen X
While Baby Boomers tend to establish loyalty based on good customer service experiences, they also overlap with Gen X in forming commitment through straightforward transactions. In other words, these generations are more likely to be loyal to companies that offer fair pricing for quality services.
Loyalty reward programs that offer discounts, cashback, or other incentives in exchange for their purchases and continued brand allegiance could also drive more sales.
Millennials and Gen Z
Gen Z and Millennials are more prone to develop brand loyalty based on how they perceive the brand with causes they care about, such as environmental and social responsibility.
Indeed, 55% of Gen Z prefers eco-friendly, socially responsible brands. Meanwhile, 62% of millennials care about how a company supports its employees, and 57% want to see that a brand puts people over profits.
Sales reps can build loyalty with these generations by highlighting their brand’s community involvement, employee wellness programs, and other initiatives that show how they’re giving back to the greater good. Our sales pitch should tell the more incredible story of our overall brand.
Skip the Generational Conflict for an Inclusive Sales Strategy
Ultimately, regardless of which generation we’re targeting, the topics we consider remain the same. With some small pivots based on generational preferences, we can skip the generation wars and meet our customers where they are.
Korrin Bishop is a freelance writer and editor with publications in The Motley Fool, Sierra Magazine, Shelterforce Magazine, and Fodor's Travel. You can learn more about her work and contact her at: www.korrinbishop.com.
The marketplace is noisy, and buyers are overwhelmed with choices. Standout with stellar sales copy. We share a slide deck with four examples – one for each generation.
The best sales copy aims for engagement and response. The goal isn't necessarily about booking a meeting. Be bold choosing the right channel!
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