Millennials are taking charge of businesses everywhere, and your sales presentation needs to adapt to meet their expectations, especially when it comes to big data.
To sell to the new generation of decision-makers, solution providers have to demonstrate that they are social-media-savvy, understand what makes younger shoppers tick, and know how to harness the right data to reveal trends about their peers. Millennial executives are looking for new ways to sell to millennial customers, and it’s up to solution providers to show them.
What Do We Know About Millennials?
Born between 1980 and the early 2000s, millennials have become the ideal target customer for most businesses. There are about 92 million millennials, and they now make up the largest segment of consumers. We also know that, because they were born into the Internet age, millennials are savvier technologically. Millennials use technology for everything, but especially for shopping; 57 percent do online/in-store comparison shopping and buy based on price and convenience, according to Goldman Sachs. They also tend to shop by brand and prefer to buy quality over value. Millennials also seem to care less about “stuff” and are more interested in access than ownership (hence the boom in car-sharing services). Where advertising has traditionally been used to reach baby boomers, previously the larger consumer segment, advertising doesn’t appeal to millennials—they want personalization and engagement, which is why online marketing has become so vital.
If you are selling big data services to millennials, understand that these same characteristics apply. It’s also helpful to remember that we are now in the era of data-driven decision-making. Millennial managers work with facts and figures, and they want reliable evidence based on trustworthy sources to prove they are making the right decisions with a measurable outcome. This is the good news for VARs; big data initiatives provide exactly the insights they are seeking based on hard data that is unavailable from conventional data mining.
By combining what you know about millennials and big data, you can make a compelling sales pitch for analytics that will appeal to managers under age 35.
Start with Social Media
From a big data standpoint, one of the great things about millennials is that they have a completely different perspective on sharing personal information from that of previous generations. They share more details about themselves and their desires in order to make their lives easier, which means it’s easier to research trends.
Most of that data is embedded in social media conversations and online sources that would be impossible to access using conventional data mining. However, because big data is capable of assimilating both structured and unstructured data, social media feeds, chat-room conversations, email and other online data sources can be integrated with database data for analysis.
When selling big data to millennials, it’s important that they understand that you will be mining the same data sources they use every day. This is the online generation, so millennial customers are going to expect you to start with online data sources such as social media feeds, and they are going to want to mine the Web, mobile users and other digital channels to learn more about their peers and their behavior.
What we also know from demographic research is that millennials expect technology to power personalization as well as instant access to what they want. Consumer technology, especially handheld devices, has created a culture where consumers expect to find exactly what they want, when and where they want it, at an affordable price with easy delivery.
For example, millennials rely on technology to research buying decisions, using strategies such as “show rooming” where they use mobile devices to do comparison shopping online while in the store. This points to a greater need for omnichannel marketing and cross-platform targeting, including using more online channels and tactics to promote specific brands.
Big data also has been powering personalization for some time—something that your millennial prospects will understand. Social media sites are adept at tracking your activity and then suggesting contacts and topics that may be of interest based on your personal activity. E-commerce sites also are driving revenue through personalization. Web surfing habits, clickbait and online transactions form an ever-evolving personal profile designed to deliver the perfect suggestions for your next online purchase.
Amazon, for example, has done an exceptional job harnessing big data to customize offers based on consumer behavior. Big data tracks past purchases, geography, demographics, preferences in entertainment and fashion, and a host of other variables to proactively present offers customized to appeal to that individual, including email offers. The Amazon personal-preference engine anticipates what you want, and millennials have come to expect that kind of personalized service. By applying big data analytics for personalization, Amazon has been able to forge deep relationships with its customers.
This is the kind of project that will appeal to millennials shopping for big data solutions: harnessing social media feeds and online behavior and combining it with data stored in the database to reveal new trends.
Think Like a Millennial
As you are honing your sales pitch, remember that you need to think like your prospects. In the case of millennial buyers, present a big data experience that utilizes the social media, online and mobile channels that are part of their everyday life and that harnesses those same data sources for analytics. Develop dashboards and presentation strategies that give them the information they need, when they need it, in a customizable and personalized format.
Follow the same steps you would for any big data project, but think like a millennial:
- Start with strategy, keeping millennial targets in mind.
- Hone in on the business area you are analyzing.
- Identify the unanswered business question (i.e. the use case).
- Identify your data sources, bearing in mind that millennials tend to live online.
- Identify data already available.
- Collect, normalize and analyze the data.
- Present the data insights, bearing in mind that millennials have specific expectations about the immediacy of technology.
When selling to millennials or any prospect, a little bit of empathy can go a long way. You will be more successful if you take the time to understand the mindset and expectations of your customers and tailor your services to meet those expectations.