Baby Boomers number approximately 80 million in the US, are now living longer, and have the highest disposable income of any generation. Whether you sell in a retail or business-to-business environment, you can't afford to alienate your Baby Boomer customers with a Gen X or Gen Y mentality.
But, Baby Boomers are not all the same and figuring out how to sell to them can be a tricky proposition.
"While there are more similarities than differences in how a salesperson should sell to customers regardless of their generation, and we Baby Boomers are not a homogeneous group, there are subtle but important differences in our beliefs, attitudes and behaviors; and selling to us requires a different approach," said Ron Volper, a leading business development consultant, an adjunct faculty member at New York University and author of "Up Your Sales in a Down Market" (Career Press, 2011).
Volper offers BusinessNewsDaily readers a few ways to better serve this very important segment of the consumer market.
Build rapport with boomers. "Baby Boomers like to be in someone's physical presence and usually prefer face-to-face communication, so we can look someone in the eye and judge what they are saying. More than other generations, we baby boomers have to feel comfortable with the salesperson, before we can feel comfortable with the product," Volper said.
Use high touch over high tech. "One salesperson I dealt with showed me a virtual product, a picture of the product on his computer, but, as a Baby Boomer, I wanted to touch it. Moreover, I did not know the actual dimensions of the space where the printer would go, but I had a picture of that space in my mind. Had the salesperson been willing to go to the trouble to open the box holding the printer (instead of showing me the online picture of it and telling me its dimensions), I would have been able to determine whether it was the right size," he said.
Listen for our needs. "[The sales person's] unwillingness to cut open the box signaled poor customer service to me. In fact, when I asked him to take the printer out of the box he responded by showing me the online ratings from customers who had purchased it. This was not what I wanted. As a Baby Boomer I am less influenced by online ratings from people I've never met and more influenced by what my friends and colleagues tell me."
Avoid multi-tasking. "As a Baby Boomer, I was brought up to do one thing at a time and give people my undivided attention. When the salesperson allowed random customers to interrupt our conversation and also exchanged text messages with someone, I lost my train of thought, and lost confidence in him," said Volper.
Win with the right words. "As a former salesperson and head of sales at a Fortune 500 company, I know that how we say things to customers is as important as what we say," said Volper. "So I was not impressed – and I don't think my Baby Boomer peers would be, either – when this young salesperson kept inserting the word 'like' into many of his sentences — as in 'this printer is like the fastest we have."