Who's That in the Buyer's Chair? 4 Generations in the Workplace
The Technology Revolution. The Economic Shift. Change and Transformation. There is another interesting social phenomena that is going to challenge you and how you sell. Now, for the first time ever, four separate generations in the buying chairs change how your customers communicate, how they buy, why they buy and how they want you to interact with them.
How are you supposed to sell to four groups who buy differently, communicate differently and have completely different buying motives and styles?
Your buyers may be Traditionalists who grew up with rotary phones and watched a social revolution. They were the Mad Men. They sang songs at their Rotary Club meetings. They went out for three martini lunches. They raised their kids in the suburbs, perhaps with a stay-at-home, full-time homemaker mom. Born 1925 - 1945, their core values are around discipline, respect and conformity. They saved and paid cash. Their communication style was the formal memo. They give and expect respect. Robert Redford is part of this generation. Also known as the "Silents," they were in between The Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers. You know how to sell them. Write a pre-approach letter. Be respectful. Ask for an appointment. Leave a polite and detailed voice mail.
They may be Baby Boomers who had touch-tone phones and participated in the social revolution. With core values of optimism and involvement, they were the "call me anytime" folks who prefer in-person communications. They have a buy now, pay later attitude and a work hard, workaholic ethic. They want to feel valued and needed. Motivated by money and titles, they could care less about feedback. Born between 1946 and 1964, Oprah Winfrey is a part of this generation. You know how to sell to this group as well. Appeal to their ego and desire to be and feel important. You talk about the sizzle, not the steak.
The buyers may be Gen Xers who had cell phones and grew up in the fallout of the social revolution. These cynical adults have core values around informality, skepticism and fun. They were the latch-key kids who grew up with a backpack. Surprisingly conservative and cautious, their attitude is "call me only at work." They prefer direct and immediate communication, and they want balance and they like structure and direction. "Forget the rules and do it your way" are messages that resonate with them. Born between 1965 and 1981, Cameron Diaz is an Xer. Send them an email, leave them a voice mail, challenge them with innovative ideas and focus on results.
Or they may be Gen Y who never answer a phone, but will send a text message to the person who is sitting next to them. Digital natives, they prefer to communicate through email, Internet, pictures, and text. They have core values around extreme fun, confidence, realism and they are very social. Their work ethic is goal oriented, they are tolerant, multi-task as a way of life and want immediate feedback and meaningful work. They love to work with other bright, creative people. Born between 1982 and 2001, Mark Zuckerberg is part of this generation. The Gen Y or Millennials love diversity and celebrate it. You may find it easy to judge them by the tattoos and piercings. Don't!
Selling to this group takes new approaches, new attitudes and an open mind.
(The next posting will be all about Gen Y and why it's critical that you learn the skills and rules to sell to this group.)
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