Millennials are a much discussed and misunderstood demographic, but if it’s hard to interpret them, it’s harder still to sell to them. What we can say for sure is that this generation takes a different approach to the buying process: 60-90% of them will have made a decision on their purchase before they even engage with your company’s sales team.
Making inroads with this target audience is not easy, but if it is achievable at all, it is through technology. Predictive analytics make it possible to improve the process for customers and companies alike.
This approach to sales isn’t limited to big brands. Sales intelligence technology has the potential to bridge the divide between salespeople and millennials – simultaneously improving customer service and sales performance. Here are three ways it can fulfil this potential.
1. It can make sense of big data.
If there’s anything you can say about millennials with 100% certainty, it’s that you can’t say anything about them with 100% certainty. Their wants, needs, and buying habits vary widely on an individual basis, and on a wider scale, they can also vary according to geographical and economic factors. What’s true about them today could be completely obsolete tomorrow.
Big data is often touted as the means by which we can understand customer behaviour, but it is almost always lauded for sheer size. It will cause unprecedented growth of the digital space, from 3.2 zettabytes to 40 zettabytes (a billion terabytes). In fact, more data has been created in the past two years than in the rest of human history combined. It’s all very impressive – but how can it be put to use?
Predictive technologies are the means by which we can turn this sheer quantity of data into actionable insights. They have the ability to recognise buying patterns on a macro and micro scale, allowing the enterprising salesperson to pre-empt the customer based on their history and preferences. For example, over time, a millennial customer might express a fondness for a particular kind of mojito, but only in summer (it’s hardly an autumnal tipple, after all). With this information brought to light thanks to technology, you can offer them white rum at a discount when June rolls around.
2. It can perfect cross- and up-selling.
The potential of predictive tools doesn’t end with its anticipatory powers. It can provide significant opportunities for companies willing to work on their up- and cross-selling techniques. Now, obviously you don’t ever want to approach customers at the wrong time, or without a clear strategy in place. But millennials – while not lazy – don’t especially want to put more work or thought into something like buying mojitos than they strictly have to. If they can get what they need from you, they will generally prefer to do so. Personalisation is the name of the game.
Continuing with the food and drink analogy, let’s say your millennial customer is a sure thing for a generous order of white rum. You could conceivably leave it at that; a deal is a deal, and you might not want to push things too far and potentially alienate the customer.
But your sales intelligence tool has suggested that, because they’re buying the rum with the intention of making mojitos, there might be an opportunity to upsell the complementary ingredients of the drink – lime juice and sparkling water. You might even have an opportunity to cross-sell pineapple juice, allowing them to make pina coladas if they get bored of the original drink. It saves the millennial customer from starting the buying process all over again, and it makes you more money.
3. It lets you build a strategy for the long term.
Of course, mojito and pina colada season has to end sometime – and there’s no assurance that they’ll be the cocktails of choice come summer 2017. To sell for the long-term, you need to strategise for the long-term.
Sales intelligence technology allows you to examine individuals, but it also lets you place them within a wider trend. Using the forecasting capabilities of predictive analytics, you can see the macro-level buying patterns of millennial consumers. You can use this information to build campaigns around individual seasons, key dates/events, and other influential factors. If a significant portion of your mojito and pina colada enthusiasts have historically displayed a preference for whiskey in the winter, your sales intelligence tool will know about it, and allow you to target communications with this in mind. If this preference changes, it’ll know about it.
Either way, you’ll be better informed and able to adjust your sales strategy to accommodate your customers’ needs. What’s more, millennials will expect you to do this; make no mistake, catering to this demographic is a lot of work. This isn’t entirely a bad thing; if nothing else, it keeps the sales profession honest. But it’s worth mentioning that an informed, personalised sales strategy can also reap serious rewards - if executed with the right attitude and the right tools.