b2b buyer

By Rieva Lesonsky

Like just about everything else, the world of B2B sales is being transformed by an influx of millennial buyers. That means if your business’s sales and marketing tactics are tailored for boomers or Gen X, it’s time to rethink your approach. The Millennials are Here, a recent report on generational differences in B2B buying, offers valuable insights that can help you reach the new B2B influencers. Here’s the scoop:

  • Some 41 percent of millennials are either making purchasing decisions (13 percent) or influencing them (28 percent). In addition, 38 percent are tasked with researching purchases. A whopping 82 percent are involved in the buying committee in some capacity.
  • Millennial buyers are far more independent than Generation X or baby boomer buyers during their path to purchase. They conduct extensive research on their own before making any purchasing decisions.
  • While Generation X and baby boomer buyers rely on salespeople for guidance, millennial buyers are more likely to rely on the opinions of peers or outside experts than to trust a salesperson. They actively avoid engaging with sales early on; nearly 60 percent say they don’t engage with a salesperson until they’re in the middle of a purchasing decision.

How can you successfully woo the millennial B2B buyer? The report offers this advice:

  • Earn the trust of people the millennial buyer trusts, including both peers and outside experts. Positive reviews by trusted expert sources or peers on review sites, or mentions on social media by trusted influencers or peers, will help put your product or service on millennial B2B buyers’
  • Focus on relationships. Emotion and instinct are keys to the millennial purchasing process, unlike other generations that rely primarily on data and analytics in making a decision. As a result, millennials’ preferred resources to evaluate products and services are either personal connections or references.
  • Emphasize the relevance of your product or service to the millennial buyer’s individual concerns. While Generation X and B2B buyers tend to seek solutions that solve a problem the team is having, millennials are more likely to start researching solutions when they have an individual problem.
  • Create content that resonates with millennial buyers. Due to their high consumption of online content, millennials are more likely than other age groups to stumble across solutions even when they’re not actively looking. Infographics, videos, blog posts and ungated e-books rank the highest with this age group in terms of influential content.
  • Promote your company’s social responsibility. More than any other generation of B2B buyers, millennials care about company community involvement and values when deciding what companies to work with. In fact, these are the two things that matter most to millennials when choosing a vendor — more than customer support, training or even the product features.
  • Be authentic. Millennials can smell cut-and-paste responses or insincere phone calls a mile off. Avoid marketing automation messages that sound canned. Always reach out in ways that don’t acknowledge their specific needs and concerns.
  • Let them control the engagement with sales. Following up with a millennial buyer as soon as they download a white paper is nothing but a turnoff for this generation. Engage on their terms even if that means waiting for them to reach out to you first.

As the millennial generation gets older, they’ll only become more influential in the B2B buying process. Learning how to approach them now will give your business a head start on the competition.