“All purchase decisions are made by people.” Gavin Finn, CEO of Kaon Interactive, wrote in a recent article. “While data science and analytics have become an essential element of every modern marketing arsenal, it is wise to remember that people make all purchase decisions.”
He goes on to say, “Even in business purchases, the individual decision-makers are subject to the same strengths and weaknesses as consumers. Neuroscientists have proven that every decision has an element of emotion to it. In fact, many behavioral scientists believe that the primary decision drivers are mainly emotional.”
When marketing to Baby Boomers, focusing on product features and benefits often results in a losing strategy, especially early on in the process. As shown above, research has shown that consumers’ final decisions are not the direct product of the reasoning process; in fact, as we age, emotions drive us even more in our purchase decisions. The reasoning process will confirm their decision, but it doesn’t start there.
Although all of us have basic human values and motivators that drive us, we manifest them differently as we move through the spring, summer, fall and winter of life. Selling to Baby Boomer customers is different primarily because of this shift in how we manifest values and motivators.
Our human need for identity, relationships, purpose, gaining knowledge and growth, rejuvenation and recreation are always with us. However, as we age, we focus more on having meaningful life experiences compared to our younger selves that concentrate on gaining material goods. As such, it is in your best interest to determine and communicate how your brand, product or service provides a gateway to meaningful life experiences.
Sales professionals should begin a sales presentation by first developing a relationship.
1. Understand you’re in an emotionally-charged environment and take the time to practice focused listening. Salespeople often speak to the customer in a very staccato fashion. They immediately start talking about their product/service’s features and benefits without trying to build the relationship first. This approach is not usually practical, because as we get older, we become more resistant to absolute guarantees or propositions than when we were younger.
2. Never rush the Boomer customer or patronize them. The older we get, we more easily recognize and reject being patronized. Marketers and sales professionals should allow the consumer to pull wanted information; not push it at them.
3. Deliver objective information at a slow-to-moderate pace. Avoid jumping around on the issue, and avoid a staccato approach to the conversation.. Maintain a steady equilibrium as you speak. Ask many open-ended questions that start the customer talking.
4. Be vulnerable, honest and open about who you are. The more honest you are, the better your chances are of developing a good solid bond in the relationship. Show sincere empathy and reduce your reliance on sales charts and other tools, and take more time to understand the Boomer’s needs and wants.
5. Saying less is more in many instances, especially in the early stages of communicating. Let the consumer use his or her imagination to interpret your communications. Be prepared to provide more detail as requested.
Challenge your current sales approach and gain a better understanding of the physical, as well as behavioral, changes of aging consumers. Remember that as we age, we can’t hear or taste or see as well, and if your sales approach, product information or environment isn’t user-friendly to these consumers, you’re often wasting your time.
The American historian Daniel J. Boorstin once said: “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.” In other words, what stops you from knowing the truth is acknowledging a false truth as the truth. If you think you have the truth but don’t, you stop seeking it. Keep seeking the truth.