Stop Selling to Millennials — What They Really Seek

April 12, 2022 — You continue to attend mortgage conferences handing out business cards in hotel bars and after-parties, along with setting up CRM sequence emails – disappointed by all the ensuing silence. Your primary problem – it’s an old-school approach, as dated your Spring Break Triptik Planner from AAA.

Stop Selling to Millennials

Don’t get me wrong, as I think there is tremendous value in attending in-person events whenever possible, you just need to have a well-defined strategy, aligned with realistic expectations.

Millennials have been joining our industry ranks for roughly two decades, rising to positions of influence and are key decision makers. During this very decade, it is projected they will represent 75% of the global workforce. Vendor sourcing is often done by committee now, not via a single role at a lender. Chances are, multiple members of the committee are millennials, who simply do not respond to being ‘sold to.’ Traditional sales and marketing tactics are ineffective, despite what worked for prior generations.

The required approach is no more challenging or costly, it’s just different. Millennials consume a mind-boggling amount of online content. For traditional sales and marketing roles, that means a major pivot to become prolific producers of content. And not just any content – you have to convey the power, passion and purpose of your product/service – something intrinsic and meaningful. A sales pitch with key value props won’t do. Think about how your solution will help their cause. Most millennials want to know that you stand for something.

Simply stated, you must have a strategy to acquire FOLLOWERS, keeping them engaged and intrigued via your content. Followers ultimately lead to becoming buyers, as long as your content can keep you ‘top of mind’ versus back burner.

To acquire, you must publish your content in the places your target audiences hang out. For millennials, this means destinations visited via smartphones and devices. According to The Center for Generational Kinetics, millennials prefer these methods (in priority order):

  • Text and messaging apps, like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp
  • Email, personalized (essential to have a meaningful subject line)
  • Social media
  • Phone
  • In person ranked fifth (reiterating the opening paragraph, a last resort)

Now the real challenge – you have to grab their attention in a short, yet impactful, amount of time. While they don’t necessarily suffer from attention deficit disorder (ADD), millennials are usually very quick to assess interest level and continue reading or ‘swipe left.’ If that needs explaining, you are likely not yet savvy enough on millennial speak – but you can get there. Their needs are specific, but not complicated. Bottom line: Your value props need to generate intrigue, causing readers to feel the need to investigate. They don’t want all the details spoon fed to them, instead having an urge to investigate. Set the table with delightful appetizers, causing them to want to further explore the menu on their own.

Be authentic and consistent in style and avoid making promises you cannot keep. Millennials will fact-check, and at the first inclination of doubt, they are done, and unlikely to return. They will also be very vocal on sharing their experience, the good and the bad. A single drop of water will cause an unstoppable ripple effect in the entire pool. Make it a good ripple (a viral tidal wave).

Don’t make the mistake of stereotyping, thinking all millennials are alike. Nothing could be further from the truth. While they do share a number of traits, they remain individuals and fiercely independent. As with any prospect in your sales funnel, you need to identify interests, key drivers and overall needs – and cater your approach. You will need a genuine touch point that speaks to their beliefs, confirming they have been heard. More on the ‘real people’ front, and less corporate speak.

When I ran the vendor management unit at a Top-5 mortgage bank over a decade ago, we had vendors and we had ‘partners.’ The latter were those the team proactively reached out to for help and guidance on regulations, trends and such. They were trusted advisors that had our best interests in mind, no matter what. At times, they even provided guidance that had potential to have an adverse effect to their own business with us. Talk about admiration and unshakable relationships, those partners were rare – in it for the long-haul. Vendors, on the other hand, just kept trying to sell their stuff.

So, what is your plan to engage casual BROWSERS and convert them to BUYERS?



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