6 practical tips that drive sales
by Bob Phibbs

When you are focused on creating a culture of customer service, it is important to realize how generational differences can impact the selling process.

Baby boomers grew up when retail still employed people who chose working retail as a career and modeled exceptional customer service. As such, they expect to still receive that kind of treatment.

The millennial generation grew up with the Internet. Efficient, fast and cheap were things that became increasingly important to their generation, as they conducted their lives online.

Here's the rub: For the forseeable future, 75 percent of purchases will still come from baby boomers who expect personal service.

Unless your business is able to give baby boomers the customer service they expect, you will see less and less of them.

To ensure that your millennial staff is properly equipped to sell to the boomer generation, utilize these six training tips.

  1. Initiative. Don't make boomers come to you—find them. Boomers do not want to ask, "Can you help me?" or "Where do I pay?" Keep your head up and engage them regularly. Once a boomer is ready to leave, they're ready to leave.
  2. Hustle. Your speed of service has to be given in proportion to the amount of customers in your store. Be aware of who just came in, who needs help and who needs to be rung up. If you ignore boomers, they will walk.
  3. Inclusion. Boomers want to fit in; they want to be popular. Unlike the millennials, they are still looking for validation. And for boomers, that validation comes from owning things.
  4. High-touch above high-tech. Boomers want to see product for themselves—that's why they are in your store and not shopping online. They still want to feel, touch, smell and experience the product.
  5. Appropriate word choice. Avoid phrases such as "no problem" and the word "like," as in, "this printer is like the fastest we have." Boomers in general are old-school and appreciate proper grammar.
  6. Connect the dots. Connect the dots between what boomers want and what you have to sell, in a way that says, "It's not just a device, it's all the things it can do for you." This is the generation that doesn't like to return things—they want to get it right the first time.

Selling to baby boomers is not hard. Make it personal. Respect the fact that they took the afternoon off, and they are in your shop to buy from you. Despite the current job-hopping trend, millennials' commitment to their jobs is typically very high. They're looking to acquire new skill sets and experiences. Make sure you are training them so they can deliver world-class customer experience. If not, you risk not only losing their interest in working there, but also boomers' interest in shopping with you.