We hear a lot about Millennials today: they’re the largest living generation, perhaps they’re entitled, they might be ruining retail, etc. Whether it’s ideologically or behaviorally, there is a sense that Millennials are different from previous generations — and that difference doesn’t end in the B2C universe.
Today, 13% of Millennials are making B2B buying decisions, and an additional 28% are influencing that decision-making, according to new research.
Not only do Millennials have substantial pull on B2B buying committees, their buying behaviors are in direct contrast with some of the most tried-and-true B2B marketing and sales tactics in the playbook.
So what do marketers need to do differently to meet the needs of this rising generation of B2B buyers?
Let prospects engage on their terms.
Millennial buyers prefer to engage with sales much later in the buying process than older generations. In fact, 86% of Millennials prefer not to engage sales until the middle of their buying process or even later, whereas other generations engage sales much earlier.
This preference of Millennial “sales avoiders” suggests a clear shift from the traditional sales journey where prospects are skillfully led through the buying process by a salesperson. In fact, interaction from sales before before Millennial buyers seek it out can be off-putting for prospects who’d rather explore various solutions on their own first. Often the primary researcher on buying committees, Millennials want to engage with you only when they’re ready.
When looking at vendor solutions, Millennial buyers tend to prioritize company values and community engagement over product features and details. These buyers also place a high value on personal relationships with vendors, or solutions referred to them through their personal networks, more so than other generations.
This means that your nod to company values on your website’s “About” page may not be enough — instead, buyers want to see your organization demonstrating your commitment to values not just through content and marketing efforts, but through everything you do across the company.
Ditch the old marketing and sales playbook.
The “old reliable” B2B marketing practice of using lead-gated white papers to build top of the funnel interest doesn’t resonate with Millennials. And it’s not just them — across all generations white papers ranked as the least useful type of content early in the research process.
This research also prompted buyers to share what they hate about sales and marketing, and the frustration surrounding these tactics was clear: “Just because I download something doesn't mean I want a call. I will reach out if I need a solution from you.” All buyers — not just Millennials — want to be able to learn more about vendor solutions without running the risk of being immediately engaged with a salesperson.
B2B marketing and sales teams need to abandon tired, traditional B2B marketing tactics in favor of new strategies that meet buyers from different generations with content and processes that speak to their unique buying preferences. Focusing on creating engaging, valuable content that guides prospects down the funnel on their terms, rather than forcing them down a linear path, is key to effectively reaching not just Millennials, but all generations on the new B2B buying committee.