I was recently preparing for a new presentation, and among the other interesting information I found, there were several references to articles about millennials. One of them struck a familiar chord, which was that there’s a tendency to generalize about millennials. Whether it’s their communication skills, their shopping style or their work ethic, millennials are the focus of a lot of bashing, for lack of a better word.
There are two, really good reasons why we shouldn’t be bashing millennials: 1) stereotyping an entire generation is short-sighted and prejudicial, and 2) they’re our customers and employees. Saying that all millennials are one thing, or another, is like saying that Gen-X are all the same, or all Baby Boomers are the same. It just isn’t true. Are millennials different than Gen-X or Baby Boomers? Yes, of course, in the same way that Gen-Xers are different than their parents and grandparents. Each generation grows up a product of its environment, media, technology and more.
Digital Immigrants vs. Digital Natives
I’ve said this before, but I’m a digital immigrant. I started selling wedding advertising “B.I.” – before the internet. No, I’m not a dinosaur, or tech averse. Just the opposite. I love technology, and use it throughout my business (says the guy wearing an Apple Watch, listening to music on my iPhone 7 Plus, and writing this on a new MacBook Pro). Technology doesn’t make me sell better, but it does allow me to connect with my audience in a way that wasn’t available when I started. That doesn’t make it better or worse. It just is, what it is. Things are always evolving, are you?
I know lots of millennials who are ambitious, entrepreneurial and have great attitudes. I also know lots of Gen-Xers, and Baby Boomers, who constantly complain about how lazy millennials are and how much easier it was, back in the good old days (whenever that was). The disconnect comes when we pre-judge a prospect (hence the word prejudice). Each customer is entitled to fair treatment. If we assume they’re going to judge us, only on price, we’ll likely do and say things that will attract that kind of behavior. For instance, not putting price on your website, at all, will encourage them to either ask about price, or leave without giving you a chance.
They don’t know how to shop for a wedding – neither did we
Couples have never known how to shop for wedding services. Technology didn’t bring that on. It was the same when I got married, and probably the same for the married folks reading this. Technology gives couples, and us by the way, access to more information than in past years, or decades. Don’t you shop differently than you did before Google? I know that I do. The question is whether you’re using that access to technology to your advantage. Are you leveraging their ability to do research, 24/7? Are you making it easy for them to find what they’re looking for on your storefront and website? Are you reducing the friction, so they’ll find what they need, and then take the action you want?
Take a look in the mirror
When you’re the customer, do you leverage your access to online information, before you reach out and contact a vendor? Do you look for pricing on a website, or ask how much something costs, early in the conversation? Do you prefer to do business with companies who are transparent and easy to work with? See, it’s not just a millennial thing. It’s a consumer thing. Besides, I love when someone asks me how much my services or products cost. Do you know why? People who ask about price are usually buyers! Asking about price doesn’t automatically mean someone can’t afford your services. Once again, remember all of the times you looked at a price tag, or asked how much something cost. Was it because you couldn’t afford it? Or, was it because that’s a natural part of the buying process?
Make one sale at a time
The key to selling a lot of your service, is to remember to sell to one customer at a time. Each couple only cares about themselves, and their wedding, as they should. They don’t care how busy you are, nor should they. If you try to rush the process, many will move on, looking for someone who gives them more, personal attention. If you take their business, you should treat them as if they’re your most important customer. If you were the customer, you’d expect the same.
All of that said, the customer still has to hold up their end of the bargain. None of us should accept being mistreated by a customer, regardless of in which generation they were born. When I think of the customers I don’t want to have, it has nothing to do with their age. It’s all about their attitude. I recently almost fired a customer who was pushing back on everything I was suggesting. You know the old saying: “If you always do, what you’ve always done. You’ll always get, what you’ve always gotten.” So, I called him out on it, and said that if he wasn’t open to new ideas, then he’ll stay exactly where he is.
Embrace your inner millennial
So, the next time you’re inclined to lament about a millennial customer who doesn’t ask you the right question, or who won’t agree to a phone call, take a deep breath, and remember that they need your product, or service, or they wouldn’t have reached out. Then, don’t sell them anything. Learn to help them buy.
This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.