As a Millennial, I’ve spent the past decade rolling my eyes at the media’s portrayal of our generation.

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Whether depicted as participation trophy-holding underachievers who prioritize avocado toast over homeownership and carelessly destroyed various industries or constantly being mistaken for Gen Z, Millennials haven’t been portrayed in a positive or even neutral light.

In 2019, Millennials became the largest generation in the U.S. with over 73 million people yet only held 3% of the country’s wealth — half of what Gen X held at the same median age in 2004 and far less than the 21% of wealth the Baby Boomer generation held at the same median age in 1989.

Between educational debt, entering the workforce during the worst recession since the Great Depression, and stagnant wages, the generation born between 1981 and 1996 has experienced our fair share of turbulence that has shaped our buying habits and spending power.

I don’t share this with you to scare you away from selling to Millennials. At the end of the day, if your business is going to survive, you need people from the largest age segment of the population to buy from you. I just want to provide context on who you’re selling to. With these factors in mind, Millennials

As a salesperson, your goal is to serve your customers through your company’s products and services. Let’s discuss some ways you can tailor your sales strategy to better serve your millennial customers.

1. A strong web presence and attention to user experience.

According to Nielsen, Millennials are far more likely to research a product on their own before buying a product or speaking with a salesperson than the generations before them. The main areas Millennials look for information to influence buying decisions includes online reviews and social media. What does this mean for you, the seller?

It means your brand will be well-served to have a strong online presence, giving Millennial shoppers somewhere to go to learn more about your products. Not only does that mean having a solid social media strategy in place, that also means having an up-to-date website with a user interface that makes buying a seamless process.

When it comes to purchasing consumer goods 61% of Millennials report buying these goods online, and this trend will likely continue, or even increase in the 2020s.

2. Your brand values should be front and center.

Social responsibility is a high priority for Millennials, especially compared to the general population. In that same Nielsen study, 42% of Millennials (compared to 34% of the general population) said Corporate Social Responsibility was an important factor in their buying decisions and 70% of those asked said they would be more likely to buy from a brand that handled a social issue well. The top social issues Millennials want to see brands address include food and hunger, environmental sustainability, and education.

If your company does not currently have CSR initiatives in place, do not overstate in order to sell more. Above all, Millennial shoppers value authenticity from brands (more on that below). Though a majority of Millennials reported wanting to buy from brands that handled social issues well, they are generally forgiving of brands who take a neutral stance — only 26% of Millennials said they would be less likely to buy from brands who did not address social issues.

Regardless of where your company sits on the social responsibility spectrum, it is important to remain mindful and empathetic around the values and priorities of the customer.

3. Focus on experience over product.

The term "experience economy" was coined when it became clear Millennials preferred to spend more money on experiences than physical products. Brands began cashing in on this idea by creating Instagram-able moments and visuals into their offerings to reach these buyers.

However, in 2020 when many people are not able to travel and attend live in-person events, companies will have to get creative with how they sell experiences.

As you navigate this environment as a sales rep, focus on sharing information about how your offerings will make your end-user feel instead of solely focusing on the features of the product itself. Though Millennials are not able to partake in the events and experiences they have grown fond of, you can create a positive experience through how you engage with your potential buyers, remaining empathetic of the large-scale changes taking place.

4. Keep your messaging authentic.

Above all else when selling to Millennials, your messaging and approach should be authentic and conversational. When surveyed in 2019, Millennials expressed distrust in the motives of businesses selling to them.

In addition to this 84% of Millennials don’t trust traditional advertising, which means you may want to think twice before using that rehearsed sales script. These buyers value authentic content and messaging that feels unbiased. Incorporate this into your sales strategy by using reviews and user-generated content from real customers to get your message across.

Your sales approach is impacted by several factors — your product, who you’re selling to, and what’s happening in the world, to name a few. Having a deep understanding of these factors can make all the difference in your ability to sell honestly, and authentically. If you’re looking for advice and best practices to help you reach your Gen Z customers, check out this post.

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Originally published Apr 24, 2020 8:30:00 AM, updated April 24 2020

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Selling to Different Buyer Personas