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In the professional services sector it is common for your client group to include a diverse range of age groups. It is human nature for our communication to be derived from our own experiences and perspectives, and for us to relate best to those who share a similar outlook.
No matter how intricate your understanding of the products and services you offer, there is no guarantee that the way you communicate their benefits will be a good match for the sales prospect, particularly if you belong to different age groups.
The four generational groups
Today’s marketplace is comprised of four generational groups:
- Traditionalists (or Matures): Born before 1946
- Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964
- Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1979
- Generation Y (or Millennials): Born between 1980 and 2000
- Each member of these groups is an individual in their own right, with their own personality, tastes and beliefs. However, there are also common characteristics and experiences shared between group members which present distinct challenges and opportunities to sales and marketing professionals.
Different strokes for different folks
Here are some of the most effective strategies I have identified for selling to different age groups:
Consistent and reliable service is a must for the traditionalist. They expect to be thanked for their custom and value a personal relationship with those they buy from. They regard patience as a virtue and will take their time to make a buying decision.
They also expect the seller to show a genuine interest in their requirements and concerns, and will only spend their money once they are sure these will be met. They tend to be more conservative with their money than other groups.
Baby Boomers have a strong sense of self and expect to be treated as individuals. They respond most positively to a sales strategy which is solution orientated and which focuses on the results, rather than the product or service itself.
Appearance is important and they like to work with optimistic people. Many Boomers also have a spiritual side and are driven by a desire to achieve their potential and be the very best they can be.
They are happy to spend good money on the latest products, so appeal to them by illustrating how your product and service can help them along their journey to self-actualisation.
Generation Xers have a strong interest in their friends and family and they expect you to show the same. They tend to have a relaxed manner and prefer to do business on an equal footing. Information is crucial to Gen Xers.
They like to know all the facts so you should expect plenty of questions. They want all the information they need to be readily available, easy to digest and communicated effectively. Rather than reading up themselves, they prefer products and services to be demonstrated through the use of modern technology.
Generation Y consumers like to spend money. They have a strong sense of social awareness and put a heavy emphasis on giving back to society whenever they can. They are highly technical, so demonstrating your tech savvy is a sure way to grab their attention.
However, they are wary of sales pitches and have a good nose for anything that seems “too good to be true”. When selling to this demographic you’ll need to be flexible, creative and offer plenty of alternatives which meet the precise needs of the individual.
Now it’s your turn
What strategies do you employ when selling to different age groups? Have you identified other behaviours or traits which are indicative of a particular group? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave your comments below or contact us to let us know your thoughts!