By Kira Jerome, Marketing Intern at Heinz Marketing
There is a generational shift happening within buying committees. Millennials are taking the reigns as decision makers, influencers and project managers. Sure, we all saw it coming eventually—every generation grows up and moves into bigger roles with more influence and responsibility. The question is, are B2B sellers making the necessary changes in their approach in order to find success when it comes to engaging a millennial stakeholder or buying committee?
The following points will provide a bit of guidance and insight as companies consider their approach to marketing, selling, and engaging millennial buyers as this generational shift continues.
Some important things to know about millennials…
They do a large amount of individual research before getting in contact with a salesperson. With so many unbiased tools and research options at their fingertips, talking to a company representative before using these tools seems like putting the cart before the horse. As illustrated by Forbes, the top 4 ways millennials gather information includes product demos, 3rd party user reviews, free trials, and then the vendor or product’s website (in that order).
Millennials trust and prefer having their own experience with the product with unbiased reviews before diving into the self-promoting product content from the company’s website or speaking to a salesperson.
That being said, companies should view their online content (including both the website and social media content) as the first “salesperson” or “representative” that a millennial buyer will interact with and gain insight from.
Younger members of this demographic prefer to engage with social media as a form of information as it highlights short pieces of information and focuses on visuals (HBR).
Millennials are more likely to look for solutions to personal problems, or to problems they have been assigned to find a solution for rather than team issues (b2b.snapapp).
Think about what might be troubling a millennial buyer on a personal level based on their title and firm. This brings us to the importance of buyer personas. Organizations should create targeted personas of millennial buyers that include “basic demographic details, behavior, goals, pain points, and buying patterns” (Newberry). Tune in to the engagement channels and communication methods that are most likely to resonate with and influence this demographic, such as social media and live chat options, as this age group finds phone calls interruptive and annoying (Almquist).
Trust is key. When these millennial buyers do reach out to a sales rep, they are usually wanting to “…confirm product limitations and negotiate pricing” (Barcena).
If your sales team is approached by a millennial stakeholder, they are likely already far along in the buying cycle and are looking for specific information. Handling questions or issues honestly and directly makes a big difference in landing a deal with a millennial prospect.
At the end of the day, as this generation continues to move up the corporate ladder, a company will be doing itself a disservice if it doesn’t consider millennial buyers and influencers as part of the buying committee. To find success in engaging this group, content must be authentic, nonintrusive, and available on a variety of platforms.
I hope these tips give some insight into the minds of the B2B millennial consumer. For more information check out the in-depth research by SnapApp and Heinz Marketing here.