I’m in the process of selling my house and buying another and along the way am meeting with real estate agents keen to market my property and sell me one on their books. It’s an interesting experience which has led me to further reflect on Generation Y and marketing. When they ask what I do and I tell them about my business interesting conversation ensues that leads me to reflect further on Generation Y and marketing.
A middle aged agent lamented the fact that Gen Y clients turn up and all they want is a few straight answers to questions like, “What is the valuation on this property?” The concern of this agent was that they the approach of the young buyer was much too simplistic and that they can miss hearing the bigger picture around the valuation and the price of the property. Why do buyers do this? I suspect there are three reasons.
Firstly, they are wary of sales hype: This generation is the most marketed to generation in history. They have developed a distrust and dislike towards the sales pitch. This cartoon says it best! What they want are the facts and just the facts. When we start on our spiel we may think we are giving facts but they may sound like opinions to a generation easily given to cynicism in the sales process. For example “This is an AMAZING home!” may be, for the agent, a fact, but all the young buyer hears is hype and their instinctive response is “Sure, just let me be the judge of that!”
Secondly, they are fast paced in the way they receive and process information and have become adept at editing out wordy sales pitches. They are used to fast forwarding through TV advertisements and barely even notice the blinking ad on their computer screen when they visit a website. They have grown in the internet age, expecting instant information. If a website is not telling them what they want to read, they are gone with a single click and have moved on to the next one. Therefore when a seller starts in again on their carefully rehearsed patter the young buyer is either thinking, “Just get to the point!”, or will interrupt and ask the question that’s really on their mind.
Thirdly, they have will have done their homework. In the past when a potential buyer turned up at a house, all they had to go on was a small photo and description in the latest property press. Nowadays buyers can view 20 photos and even a video of the property and for a small fee can search public records for the valuation price, sales history and so on. When they arrive for an open home they already have a good idea what to expect and simply want to fill in the blanks.
So what is the implication for those marketing to Generation Y?
- Allow them the freedom to drive the sales talk: Be willing to set aside your agenda and ask open questions that given them the freedom to access the information they want quickly.
- Rethink your sales pitch: Sometimes less really is more and so try not to say too much. By asking questions first we get an idea of what information will be most relevant to the buyer. When it seems like they are too simplistic and are missing a bigger picture, think ahead of time as to what you might say to respectfully challenge their perceptions. Stories will do this well with Generation Y. Staying with the real estate example, if you want to challenge the assumption that the valuation is an accurate indicator of what the price should be, tell them stories of properties you have sold in which this was not the case, and explain why.
- Give them facts, not opinions: Our aim is to let them come to their own subjective conclusions – not to try to impose ours on them. One key to this is to watch your tone of voice. Some enthusiasm is good but if the tone of voice is always enthusiastic you’ll give the impression of giving opinions. Look people in the eye and use a factual tone of voice when providing information and your comments will appear more objective.
- Be honest and transparent: If there is a slight negative about what you are selling, be willing to point it out. If the buyer expresses negativity about something don’t argue with them. If their observation is factual agree although if there are other relevant facts they may not have considered, casually draw their attention to these too.
- Be relational: Young buyers are more relational than previous generations when it comes to business transactions. The more they like you, the more likely they are to purchase your product or engage you to work on their behalf. Show a personal interest in them and give them the opportunity to know a little about you.