Ask the Experts | Sales Process for Millennials?

Question: How would you adjust your sales process for dealing with millennials?

Drew Cameron; President, HVAC Sellutions & Energy Design Systems, Inc.:

Oh, jeez, millennials. It seems like we get lots of questions geared toward millennials; they’re this unique animal out there, this unique character that we need to adapt and adjust for specifically. And I’m not sure why that is, but it seems like those questions come up quite a bit nowadays in regards to many facts of the job.

Let me just say it this way I guess: I wouldn’t adjust my sales process just for millennials. I think you actually have to adjust for everybody. It’s all based on the interaction and what that interaction requires. I don’t care if they’re a millennial, or Gen X, or a baby boomer, or children of the Depression – the Greatest Generation, as I like to call them. I think you have to adapt, adjust and execute accordingly based upon your audience, so that’s what I would say.

But if we want to get specific and say there are some trends, if you will, because people like to stereotype generations a little bit, and typecast them. So if we’re going to respond to the stereotype of millennials, then I would make the process as interactive as possible, because they tend to want to be part of the process, based upon some demographic studies and whatnot. So they like to be part of the process, and vary the process as applicable based on their interests.

Now, again, that sounds like every customer under the sun, but if you look at how businesses are kind of evolving and developing based on what they think the generational trending is driving – and that’s where I think the focus really needs to be – is that the millennial generation has grown up with technology in a very social environment. So what you’re seeing is that they’re actually changing the culture of society; not just of themselves, but for everybody.

So think, like, Chipotle, and Noodles & Co., and Pie Five Pizza, and Zoe’s Kitchen and Moe’s Southwest Grill; Color Me Mine, where you can paint pottery; Board & Brush, where you can paint boards and signs and whatnot; where there’s a very interactive experience – Dave & Buster’s too – to the whole process, and they actually get to be part of the process. And so what they have found, based on studies and whatnot, is millennials like to be part of the process, they want to understand how and why. And that’s very important, also, as an employment standard as well. They like to understand why do we do what we do, how we do things, how are things made, and so forth and so on.

And so, if I were going to bring that into the sales process, what would that look like? Well it’s going to be, again, varied by the audience of, let’s say, the millennial that you’re talking about, and it’s going to be interactive. I would do the load calculation and I would show them the load calculation on my laptop or iPad; spin that right around, or print out a report and show that to them. Involve them in the IAQ monitor or energy audit software, infrared cameras, flow hood, static pressure tests, blower doors, duct blasters, laser temperature thermometers where you can measure the temperature coming out to the registers. And make them actually part of the design process.

I mean, you could actually allow them to hold the flow hood and the infrared cameras and the laser temperature measure and whatnot, and you’re involving them in that design process. And then you provide them with a menu of choices, because they like choice – we all do, but they certainly like to have choices – that they can kind of flex and float in and out of. And let them know everything they can do for their safety, their health, their comfort; to avoid energy waste and conserve resources and protect the environment; as well as to control and access and interact with whatever solution you’re putting in.

So if you go ahead and put in smart home solutions, they want to have control, access and interaction with the solution you put into their house, as well as monitor the performance. So you’re almost “gamifying,” if you will, their interaction with the system. So they can see how much energy they use, how many run cycles they have, if it’s a generator they can see how often it exercises during the week and when it does run and how many hours it runs and how many kilowatts it’s producing and so forth and so on.

And develop a plan, if you will, for the perfect home environment. Meaning – Wally’s been on this call several times talking about Joe the Concrete the Guy. And Joe the Concrete Guy basically told him everything he could do that concrete would solve. Well, as a home services contractor, you want to tell every customer, but specifically millennials, everything that they can do to improve their home health comfort safety energy management aspect, and then help build a plan to build that perfect home environment over time. They may not do it all today, but they may do it over time; at least you’ve given them that process. That’s your job: You tell them everything they can do, and then they can decide everything that they want to do.

And then I would like to spin it, because they’re obviously very socially conscious – they like to understand what others are doing around them—I would share what others like them have done. I would share reviews, and testimonials, and videos, and references, and connect them to your social networks online. And, if you can, have periodic community events, where you invite people to your business and have an open house and allow them to get involved with you and your company and your employees – they like that social interaction.

I know the Philadelphia Airport has gone from having independent lounges and restaurants, to wide open seating, communal seating and tables and whatnot, where you don’t have individual tables, you’re just all kind of sitting at these long, almost family tables now. So that social environment is really what they seem to value quite a bit.

And then lastly and probably most importantly, I would show them how most people like themselves buy something like this – and that they use one of your convenient and flexible investment plans, which is financing. And show them how it’s flexible and that no one pays for this stuff up front, they get the house that they want, and then they pay as little as possible, and then they allow what they’re going to save in energy savings and repair costs and obviously having the extended warranty, to pay for itself over time.

Because you don’t pay for your utility bill all at once, you don’t pay for your mortgage all at once, so why pay for the appliances that consume the most amount of energy in a space that you’re only going to use a portion of? Why pay for a 20-year solution when you’re maybe only going to be there for 5-7 years? Why not pay for just a short period of time? Allow it to pay for itself over time.

So those would be the things that, if I were to stereotype it, that is the stereotype that I would do. But quite frankly, I’d probably do that for everybody, not just the millennials.

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