Want Millennial Customers? Don’t Sell to Them

The first step in reaching a millennial audience is understanding how they differ from previous generations.

Edward Gately, Senior News Editor

July 21, 2017

4 Min Read

**Editor’s Note: Register now for Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 25-28, in Austin, Texas.**

As millennials become a larger proportion of the workforce, MSPs and other channel partners must adapt to successfully engage with this digital-native group.

Selling techniques that worked on boomers won’t translate, and missteps are damaging — given the high inherent loyalty among millennials. Once lost, their business is difficult to recapture.

During this presentation titled “Want Millennial Customers? Don’t Sell To Them,” at Channel Partners Evolution, Sept. 25-28, in Austin, Texas, Stephanie Dismore, HP’s vice president and general manager of Americas channels, will share tips on how to win and keep the new decision-makers.


HP’s Stephanie Dismore

In a Q&A with Channel Partners, Dismore gives a sneak peak of the information she plans to share with attendees.

Channel Partners: Why do selling techniques that worked for boomers not translate to millennials?

Stephanie Dismore: Millennials differ from their baby-boomer and Gen-X predecessors in a number of ways. They hold different values, communicate through different media and perhaps most importantly, they cultivate different kinds of relationships. All these differences point to a generation with a new way of doing business — and it’s in these nuances we have to better understand their habits and the right way to engage.

This doesn’t mean that selling or engagement techniques of the past will be completely ineffective. These changes in attitudes and priorities are significant and require us to carefully reassess how we interact and forge relationships with this emerging class of decision makers. I like to think of it as a great opportunity.

CP: How do you know what will and won’t work when selling to millennials?

SD: It’s difficult, perhaps even impossible to know what exactly will and won’t work when it comes to sales strategies. Different people react to different kinds of approaches. But every successful sales strategy has the same thing in common; they are built around a clear understanding of who you are trying to sell to.

So, the first step in reaching your millennial audience is understanding how they differ from the generations before. Lesson one: Don’t sell to them! Millennials generally don’t like to be “sold” to. They find obvious salesmanship disingenuous. So much so that it has led some companies and salespeople to abandon the often repeated “Always be Closing” maxim for the more sincere “Always Be Helping.”

Millennials also put a high premium on experience, treasure their individuality, prioritize social good and enjoy interactions via social media. Engagement strategies that incorporate these fundamental traits will have a much higher success rate than those that …

…rely on old wisdoms.

CP: What has been your experience as far as crafting a strategy for reaching millennials?

SD: It has of course taken time and effort to attune our strategy to the ways and preferences of our millennial counterparts in the channel. Millennials use different media and seek different kinds of engagement and experiences than the generations before. As such, they require an entirely new approach.

But the change in strategy is certainly worth it. Data suggests that millennials are an inherently loyal generation, more so than Gen-Xers. This means reaching and engaging with millennials in the right way can earn you a customer or a fruitful partnership for a long time to come.

CP: Why is it important for companies to focus on engaging millennials?

SD: In a word, influence. By some projections, millennials have already surpassed baby boomers as the largest demographic in the workforce. The oldest millennials are well into their 30s and a survey from the Arketi Group recently found that more than half of millennial employees describe themselves as decision-makers for technology purchases. These indicators describe a generation that has both significant and growing influence over their employers’ business decisions.

Engaging with millennials, in an effective and authentic way, is now a necessity. Just as successful businesses changed their go-to-market strategies to mirror with these new characteristics in the consumer environment, so must we compensate for these changes in the corporate environment. It’s a shift we’re aware of and we see it as a new opportunity.

CP: What do you hope those who attend your presentation learn and take away with them?

SD: The most important thing that I can offer is meaningful and actionable guidance for engaging with their millennial counterparts. I hope those that attend my session will then use this advice to forge deeper and more mutually beneficial relationships, not just throughout the channel, but also with their customers and even with their own employees.

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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