Selling to Millennials? Get In the Know with Social

Everyone in sales knows the importance of targeting customer segments for more relevant and effective selling. And as the Millennials come of age, get jobs and have money to spend, they are certainly a segment businesses want to sell to. And, a significant part of the population at 27%, including new buyers to target. The challenge is, you’re selling to a group of people that have grown up in a very different kind of world than the generations that came prior, which means taking a different approach.

Selling to Millennials requires understanding their world and reaching them via their preferred channels. And that world is social. They are networked, they are online, and they are constantly in touch with each other. What does that mean for you? It means you need to put social selling, word of mouth and innovative content to use.

Selling to Millennials Part 1: Social selling
Millennials are a social group with a knack for technology. They enjoy the consumption of innovative media content through multiple devices, and they spend an average of 17.8 hours a day with that media, according to Inc Magazine. That means Millennials are receptive to social selling, since it reaches them where they already are: online and interacting with their social networks.

This familiarity with technology and online networks also affects the stage at which they are ready to by, which impacts your sales message. One study shows Millennials are as much as 70% of the way through the buying process by the time the seller gets to them, due to the way they consume media and information. (In contrast, the average buyer is only about 57% of the way through the buying process.)

They also expect to find the brands they want in their spaces, rather than having to go looking for them. That means they aren’t necessarily going to Google to find you; they are searching on social instead…and looking to their friends for recommendations and referrals.

Selling to Millennials Part 2: Word of mouth
Speaking of referrals… In addition to—and possibly related to—the Millennials’ deep engagement in social networks, their buying behavior is significantly influenced by word of mouth. Almost all (93%) of Millennials have purchased a product after hearing about it from a family member or friend, and 89% trust these recommendations more than claims made by the brand. Also of note: 93% read online reviews before making a purchase.

Selling to Millennials Part 3: Innovative content
Which leads us to content… When selling to Millennials, you might need to rethink your content as well as your approach. This segment likes user-generated content much more than what a brand gives them. This makes sense, given how much time they spend involved with their online social networks. In fact, user-generated content accounts for 30% of all Millennial media consumption. (If you’re a Millennial or you have a Millennial in your household, then you know how much time can be spent consuming content on Tumblr alone!)

Probably because they spend so much time with it, Millennials trust user-generated content 50% more than any other form of content, and they consider it 35% more memorable.

Selling to Millennials Part 4: Interactive content
However, not all content has to be generated by their friends to interest them. What doesn’t come from their friends needs to be interactive. Millennials like content that’s multimedia like video, and they like things to be now, in real-time, fast moving and two-way. Ditch the brochure and figure out a way to make them part of your marketing team by interacting with them and giving them a way to actively participate with your brand.

To do this, do some research. Find out what appeals to your target audience. Offer free stuff and deep discounts to generate interest and buzz. And make sure your content has meaning: Millennials love causes, and are more likely to make a purchase if it comes with a “feel good” halo effect.

Is this a tall order?

For many of us in sales and marketing, these new ways of selling might differ dramatically from anything we’ve done in the past. Nonetheless, it’s still doable and necessary, because you have to know your audience to sell to them. So start by paying attention to the content they generate and begin facilitating testimonials, reviews and dialog. Find a way to become a part of the conversations they’re having. And find a way to make the content you do create engaging, interactive and worthwhile.

By involving yourself in the social selling process and becoming knowledgeable of the differences in the way Millennials shop and buy, you are more likely to reach them.

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