November 26, 2009


I had an interesting question asked of me a week ago during a presentation to some sales executives about marketing to the Baby Boomer generation. The question was about communicating, "How do we talk to baby boomers and make ourselves understood?"  The question was about making a connection and creating a dialogue in which the generation Y sales person could speak to the Boomer on a level of equality and not be dismissed as being too young to understand.
This is a tricky one for the younger business professional trying to create a level of expertise with a generation that is usually arrogant and often dismissive of ideas put forth from what they think of as less experienced sources. Take some comfort in knowing that this generation gap has existed from the beginning of time and it is rarely personal. As boomers, we went through the same thing but what is the best approach for today's young marketer?
A few bits of advice:

  • stay away from techno-babble
  • don't TRY to impress with your superior knowledge (even when it's true)
  • connect information and facts with their effect on the customer (benefits)
  • listen to the comments and questions before replying (full of clues)
  • keep clarifying without "talking down"
The number 1 thing a gen Y salesperson can do is to be themself. Boomers, by and large, trust their own instincts and are very aware of someone putting on a fake personna. If they detect the lack of honesty or integrity due to "false airs," you are finished. I notice this quite often when talking to a salesperson with my wife. Often, she will ask a question and I find the salesperson (especially if he is male) will turn to me and answer the question - BIG MISTAKE, you have just taken the person who is most likely to make the decision out of the conversation. The decision she is most likely to make at that point is that we will not be buying from this person. So, be who you are and take your chances. You won't sell everyone anyway and you will walk right past sales by not listening to your prospect carefully and simply being who you are in the process.

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