Written by: Virginia Goulding
Did you know that 73% of Millennial workers are involved in decisions to purchase products or services for their companies? Because of Millennials hyper-connected and high-tech upbringing they approach the B2B buying process differently than previous generations.
At the recent B2B Online Digital and eCommerce event for Manufacturers and Distributors in Chicago, speaker Ryan Jenkins from Next Generation Catalyst, broke down the stats and offered marketers tips on how to effectively position brands and services with the largest generation on the planet.
Today, Millennials represent 38% of the workforce. By 2025, Millennials and GenZ will represent 75% of the workplace. Their buying perspectives are very different than that of Boomers or GenXers. Boomers and GenXers rely on in-person meetings and phone/email to conduct business. Millennials are all about online, email and text. The attitude of the baby boomer buyer is focused on relationship building. Millennials care about social proof, peer persuasion and visuals. Boomers expect companies to share the research about their product or services, GenXers expects a company to demonstrate the research, but Millennials have already done the research. They are further along in the buying process than other generations because they have done the work on the front end themselves.
Millennials consumer behavior has bled into their work lives. They have elevated expectations because they have always been exposed to seamless/effortless digital experiences, like Uber. They come to expect the same seamless experience in their work life.
Benefits of Selling to Millennial Buyers
Understanding how to reach this generation of buyer is extremely important because any loyalty that was there before may be in limbo. They are new to the buying role or looking to reevaluate any long-standing relationships or traditional processes. They also have value because their lifetime value is high since they are young in their careers. And they can be peer persuaded. They turn to social networks to crowd source decisions, and recommend/refer businesses to others. If a Millennial B2B buyer is satisfied they will socially share that experience.
Three keys to position a product or service with the Millennial B2B buyer:
- Defer your communication. Every generation has a communication preference. Millennials spend 3.5 times more using messaging apps than those over 45 years old. How sellers want to communicate is not necessarily how these buyers want to communicate. Millennial buyers may prefer text, Skype or some other new communication platform. Don’t forget mobile. Eighty-two percent of millennial B2B buyers said mobile devices were important when researching new products and services. Make sure your website experience is mobile-friendly and that all brand assets present well on a mobile device to connect with the Millennial B2B buyer.
- Attract vs. Millennials method of researching products and services is internet search and vendors’ websites. Historically, the sales process was linear – prospect, qualify, educate, validate, present solution and close. But the Millennial B2B buyer has changed that buying process. Millennial buyers will gather information ahead of time by consuming content on social networks, videos, blogs, etc. As a result, you need to do more work attracting these buyers. Have attractive assets available to them on all digital channels when they are searching for product information.
- Provide Proof. Once attracted, how do you move the Millennial B2B buyer along in the buying process? Eighty-four percent of Millennials report that user-generated content on a company’s website has at least some influence on what they buy. Provide social proof of your product or service by adding user-generated content to your site. This could be in the form of customer success stories, testimonials or videos. Millennial B2B buyers want to see real images of real customers with real results. If your Millennial B2B buyer is satisfied or dissatisfied with your company/products they will feel compelled to share that with their peers. Seventy percent of Millennials feel responsible to give a company feedback on good or bad experiences post purchase.
Jenkins offered a few other reminders to attendees in closing:
- “This is always how we’ve done it,” is a slippery slope to irrelevance.
- Set in stone the “why” not the “way” of the organization.
- One generation’s status quo is another generations challenge to improve.
For more information on how to reach the B2B Millennial buyer, visit www.ryan-jenkins.com/blog.