The Next Evolution in B2B Buying: Catering to Millennials
When we hear the word “millennial” it tends to conjure up images of 20-somethings glued to their cell phones ¬- the term to date has become affiliated with negative connotations. In reality, that is an outdated idea that needs to be revised. Millennials currently make up a large portion of the working population, surpassing the Baby Boomers and Gen Xers that once dominated the workforce. In fact, research by Merit indicates that millennials now account for up to 73% of B2B buyers.
Understanding the millennial buyer has become a crucial component for B2B companies. Identifying the role they now occupy, as well as understanding their tendencies as buyers, and how they approach decision-making can help assist the evolution that’s occurring in B2B marketing.
Leading the Charge
Collectively understood to be the generation born within the 1980s and 1990s, the majority of millennials are now in the prime of their working lives, attaining significant roles within their businesses. Many of those working in B2B buying are occupying leadership roles, where they have substantial authority over the decisions that are made.
According to research from a recent Demand Gen Report, entitled The B2B Millennial Buyer Survey Report, 56% of the respondents held director-level positions (or above) and 42% held managerial positions. As well as that, 21% of the respondents in that report held C-suite positions or were vice presidents.
Although they are occupying these more advanced roles, millennials are at a young enough age that they will likely maintain their business relationship for years to come, cementing them as desirable working connections.
One of the dominant characteristics of millennials is that they grew up alongside technology. They are incredibly comfortable with the medium and will typically utilize it to research and find the information they need when it comes to decision-making. One of the tools they utilize most is social media. Millennials are characterized as using social media, perhaps too much, but in their working lives it can be incredibly helpful as it offers an additional perspective for companies, with specifically curated content that may influence their purchasing choices.
Other forms of digital media can be beneficial for companies to utilize in order to connect with millennials on multiple fronts. Creating accounts or pages on websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube can enhance your company’s marketing strategy, and utilizing creative content such as videos, infographics, and images allows you to express as much information as possible in as many mediums as possible to catch the attention of millennials buyers.
Independent by Nature
Although technology affords a certain level of connection, it is also indicative of the extent to which this generation values independence. They are not limited to connecting solely with salespeople, in fact, in many cases they won’t reach out to salespeople until they are entering the purchasing process. This is one of the main reasons they have become distinguished from Baby Boomers and Generation X.
One of the ways they can maintain such a strong independent nature in their decision-making is by relying on the outside opinions of others. They place value on the opinions of their peers and of outside sources as opposed to relying solely on advertising and marketing. In the Demand Gen Report, they indicated that 61% of respondents selected user reviews as most helpful when it came to content affecting their buying decisions.
The time has come to re-define “millennial.” No longer can it be viewed through a stereotypical lens. With the dominant position that millennials occupy in the workforce, becoming comfortable with the millennial buyer and recognizing what drives them and draws them in is a crucial step for those in B2B marketing.
Whether you’re selling a product or working with millennials in your own business, they are the future of the industry. Understanding how they operate will not only allow you to work alongside them successfully, but it will enable you to enhance your business and forge long-lasting relationships for the future.
For additional resources on this topic, download MultiView’s ebooks The Next Generation of B2B: Reaching the Millennial Decision Makers and Multi-Marketing for the Multi-Generational.