Sell To Different Buyers Differently

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I don’t think I would get much pushback for making the following comments:

• Men buy differently than women.

• Millennials buy differently than baby boomers.

• The middle class buys differently than the upper class.

• Online buyers buy differently than in-store customers.

• Ego-based buyers buy differently than price-sensitive buyers.

What that means to salespeople, sales leaders and business owners is that it is critically important they understand who their buyers are and how they like to buy so that they can effectively segment their markets as well as their message. In order to do so, you’ll first need to identify what your ideal client/customer/market looks like. Answer the following questions to get started:

• What gender are you targeting? Male, female or both?

• What age group are you targeting? It helps to segment ages like this: 15 to 30, 31 to 45, 45 to 55, over 55.

• What type of buyer are you targeting? Is your consumer a retail shopper/individual, or a commercial outfit or professional buyer?

• What income range are you targeting? Are your buyers in low, middle or high-income demographics, or are they spending discretionary income on your product or service?

• What is your trade area? Is your client base local to you physically? Are there state, regional or national boundaries? Is your target customer found globally or internationally, or are you reaching them online?

The next step is to answer the following questions to identify the best ways to segment your market and your message:

• Will you use geographic segmentation? (Local, state/regional, national or global.)

• Will you use demographic segmentation? (Age, gender, income, social class, ethnicity or generation.)

• Will you use lifestyle segmentation? (Customer activities, interests and/or opinions (AIOs).)

• Will you segment by size? (Revenue or number of locations and/or employees.)

• Will you segment by pricing model? (Transaction-based pricing, bundled pricing or value-based pricing.)

A question I am often asked is, “How do I market and sell to the different generations?” This seems to be a common segmentation favored by businesses and sales leaders, so it’s worth exploring in depth. Before you can answer that question, it’s useful to identify your understanding of generations. I differentiate generations of buyers for my own use like this:

1. Gen Z/iGen: Born after 2001; 1-16 years old

2. Millennials: Born between 1981 and 2000; 17-36 years old

3. Gen Xers: Born between 1965 and 1980; 37-52 years old

4. Baby boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964; 52-71 years old

Millennials are one of the largest consumer demographics, the fastest-growing segment in the workforce and soon will have the most purchasing power. In my quest to effectively market to this valued demographic, I uncovered some key information about how millennials shop and, more importantly, how to successfully market and sell to millennials.

How Millennials Shop

For millennials, it’s all about the experience. After speaking with a group of millennials and researching their buying habits, we learned a few useful things: They are brand loyal in the categories that matter to them and often are looking for healthy options. They prioritize access over ownership. For example, millennials prefer Netflix to purchasing DVDs. More than a third of the millennials studied buy only “necessary” purchases and over 75% indicated they do online research before buying a product or service. Products associated with a charity or cause are attractive to them. More than half of millennials consider the resale value of an item before they make a big purchase.

Marketing And Selling To Millennials

It is critically important to understand their world/speak their language. Follow these five best practices to effectively target this key demographic in sales:

1. Respect their individuality, but realize millennials are influenced by the opinions and behaviors of their peers.

2. Engage them by building an interactive website and leverage the technology they are using when reaching out.

3. Use all forms of social media to communicate — mobile messaging as marketing works especially well for millennials. If you want to connect with this generation, you need to be on multiple social media sites. If you sell business to business (B2B) I suggest LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. If you sell business to consumer (B2C), I suggest Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook. Blogging is another good way to connect with millennials, as it gives you a vehicle to build trust.

4. When selling to millennials, understand that you will be fact-checked. They do their homework and are savvier savvier buyers than older generations.

5. Millennials also like free trials and samples to allow them to experience a product or service before they commit and invest.

In summary, it is critically important to sell to different buyers differently. That includes the content in the message you deliver, the medium you use to deliver the message, the time of day you send the message, the day of the week you send the message as well as the frequency of messages being sent. Today’s most successful businesses understand the uniqueness of their customers and communicate with them in the way they want to be communicated with. That is truly a seller’s win/win.