Small-business owners (those with fewer than 500 employees) make up nearly all businesses in the United States. Less than 20 percent of those owners are under the age of 35.
Here are some insights for millennial producers on how to sell to those prospects and clients of other generations.
If you are a newer producer, chances are you belong to the millennial generation. If you are a commercial producer, chances are your prospects and clients are not millennials. The majority of today’s corporate executives and senior managers are Generation Xers and baby boomers, with the current average age of 50.3 years for a small-business owner.
The generations break down into these groups:
- Baby boomers: Born 1946–1964
- Generation X: Born 1965–1981
- Millennials: Born 1982–2003
Here are some insights for millennial producers on how to sell to those prospects and clients who may not share your perspective.
“Believe it or not, it is more important to look successful when selling to small business owners than it is when selling to professional buyers or corporate executives,” writes blogger John T. Molloy. (Photo: iStock)
What Your Peers Are Reading
1. Dress for success
Formal business attire likely isn’t necessary unless you’re calling on a very conservative company, but keep in mind it’s generally better to be over-dressed than under-dressed. With every new prospect, think of selling like interviewing for a new job. Your clothing, your entire look should project an image of professionalism — save the beard stubble for the weekend. You have only one opportunity to make a first impression, and experts say initial decisions made about you in the first three minutes are nearly irreversible. Non-millennials tend to have more conservative attitudes about dressing professionally.
See also: Why prospects hate making decisions
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas said, “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot.” (Photo: iStock)
2. Mind your manners
Many business owners grew up in an era when manners were taught in elementary school. “No problem” is not a satisfactory substitute for “You’re welcome,” and “Have a good one,” doesn’t take the place of “Thank you.” If your prospect is appreciably older than you, it never hurts to ask if it’s OK to address her by her first name. Be on time for appointments. Call if you’re held up and running late. Good manners are an important part of first impressions, and your good manners will be noticed.
See also: 10 sales behaviors that prospects hate
According to PBT Consulting: “Generally, ‘time is not of the essence’ is a common attitude among baby boomer and senior customers.” (Photo: iStock)
3. Allow time to buy
Non-millennials may take more time to make a buying decision. As people grow older, they want more information than they did when they were younger, and they are willing to spend more time in making decisions. Make these prospects feel rushed or pressured, and you’ll lose the sale. Allow plenty of lead time, especially on accounts that renew during holidays. Consider working on commercial prospects further out than the typical 60 to 90 days.
See also: 5 ways to sell LTCI to boomers
“Baby boomers are less motivated by price… and are often willing to pay a higher price for a brand they trust and have personally deemed ‘high-quality,” writes Aaron Oshita, author of ”Baby Boomer vs. Millennial Shoppers.” (Photo: iStock)
4. Leverage price
New producers, and many experienced producers, tend to assume most prospects make buying decisions based on price. A benefits-driven presentation rather than a quote is a must for these prospects.
See also: 7 ways to sell to boomers
“Boomers are loyal to products and services they value and they’re willing to pay a premium for it,” writes author and digital marketing executive BJ Kito. (Photo: iStock)
5. Factor in brand loyalty
Non-millennials may be more brand loyal. This can include the “brand” of their insurance agent or carrier. It’s difficult to penetrate a long-term relationship a prospect has with the incumbent agent. Currently, more than 90 percent of commercial accounts renew with the incumbent agent. This is not surprising because research suggests non-millennials may be more “faithful” customers. These prospects may be a tougher sale, but win them over, and they’re more likely to stay with you.