Building long-lasting relationships is possible with the new generation of merchants making up a growing part of your market.
As an ISV or VAR, you’re probably noticing something about your customers: They’re getting younger. Many baby boomer business owners have reached, or are close to retirement. As a result, younger merchants are taking their place. You’re used to providing solutions and services to baby boomers, many of whom you’d describe as determined and disciplined. What you’ll probably miss most of all about them, however, is their inclination toward brand loyalty.
Compared to millennial business owners, now in their 20s to late 30s, baby boomers are more likely to continue working with companies they’re familiar with, even if a new provider (one with new solutions or enticing promotions) comes along. That doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve a sticky relationship with a millennial client. First, you need to understand their expectations. Then, you need to deliver on them.
What ISVs and VARs need to know about millennial business owners.
As your clients’ children take over the family restaurant, or you notice the young shopkeeper in your market has a crisp, new college degree hanging on the wall in the back office, there are three things you need to keep in mind about these potential point of sale (POS) and payment solution clients.
1. Millennial business owners are collaborative.
Your baby boomer customers are probably interested in what you have to say about your solution and how it helps solve their pain points. However, younger business owners will likely want to tell you more about what they’re doing, and then solicit your opinion. A Cutler PR article in Entrepreneur points out that business owners in this age group are less protective of their ideas, sharing them with business partners to get their feedback. Experts in the POS space have advised VARs and ISVs to be more than a solution provider. Instead, strive to be a trusted business advisor, and a true partner to build long-term relationships. Millennial business owners will hold you to that: If you prove to be a valuable collaborator, they’ll want to keep you around.
2. Millennial business owners are comfortable with technology.
This generation of business owners isn’t digital-native like Gen Z coming up behind them, but they are much more comfortable with technology. They will take less convincing than their moms and dads that technology will provide value to their businesses. Therefore, they’ll probably want to implement up-to-date omnichannel payment technologies for their businesses. They’ll also be paying attention to the skill and knowledge your techs demonstrate. They’ll factor that into the business relationships they build with solutions providers. Be open with your millennial clients about the specifics of the work you are doing if they ask, and don’t underestimate their level of understanding.
3. Millennials are influenced by testimonials and reviews.
It’s rare to find a millennial who isn’t checking social media or searching the internet for information on a daily basis. It’s common for them to research companies online before agreeing to a meeting, so they can see what other customers have to say. It is therefore imperative that you monitor what your customers are posting about you on social media, business review sites, and other platforms. You also need to address any negative comments with make-goods, or assurances that issues won’t reoccur. Millennial generation clients will also be more likely to post a review of your solutions and services. In fact, a ZD blog video points out that 60 percent of millennials post reviews online, so keep in mind their comments could influence other business owners in your market
The key to a long-term relationship with millennials.
Some ISVs’ or VARs’ experiences with millennial business owners may have led them to conclude that they simply aren’t loyal customers. Accenture analysts, however, say they’re just “pickier.” According to Accenture, millennials can be very loyal “provided they feel they’ve been treated right.”
This gives you a chance to take the reigns as a trusted advisor. Be willing to collaborate when they seek solutions to their challenges or want to innovate, and, occasionally, consider giving them a deal that lowers total cost of ownership (TCO) to let them know you value their business, and inspire good reviews.
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