Changes in the Landscape: More Millennials, More Online Buyers
What this Means for B2B and Your Business
While mostly unnoticed, the millennial generation is buying for B2B and your business. By 2025, Millennials will form 44 percent of the workforce, and they are already having a direct or significant influence as they rise through the ranks. They are a substantial cohort, outnumbering the Baby Boomer generation (Pew Research).
Understanding the Millennial B2B buyer journey is key to getting ahead of the coming change in B2B, primarily as existing B2B buying strategies (print media, direct mail, tradeshows, etc.) appeal to Generation X and Baby Boomers.
A Digital Experience Influences Millennials
We’ve heard it before—almost 75 percent of the buying decision is made online before the buyer even calls the supplier (Forrester). Moreover, the lines are increasingly blurring between B2B and B2C and millennials expect the same type of experience and engagement as they do with consumer brands.
In a nutshell, the digital experience is the buying journey.
So it makes sense that this generation wants a customer-centric experience and brands to court them. About 89 percent said that real-time product availability would influence their shopping selection regarding choices (Inc).
Millennials want an engaging user experience—digitization, responsiveness, immediate gratification and ease of use. In other words, they want on-demand information gathering and mobility throughout the sales cycle, and they expect a response-rich, mobile environment, and prompt personal response at every cross-road (Forbes).
In summary, a strong digital presence is essential for businesses. Close to 94 percent of all buyers conduct online research during the buying process (Accenture), and about 59 percent of buyers do research online instead of interacting with a sales representative (Forrester).
A Strong Sense of Purpose Is More Important Than a Value Proposition
Millennials care about the ‘why’ and they respond to authenticity. They will choose a socially responsible company or a company that aligns with their own beliefs over a technically reliable product or service. It shouldn’t be surprising that 50 percent would even switch brands if they saw that it was aligned with their views (Forbes).
Translated into a sales relationship, this means that millennial B2B buyers will respond to salespeople who evoke feelings of trust and compatibility, rather than connecting over benefits and deliverables.
The takeaway? An enjoyable experience can be more important than a clear value proposition.
They Care What Their Peers Think
Millennials lean toward consensus and embrace peer persuasion. Third-party validation is essential—from friends, colleagues and peers. In fact, three out of four buyers engage with peers on social platforms about buying decisions (IDC).
They cite both internet research and vendor websites as their top two means of researching products and services. And about 84 percent of millennials report that user-generated content has some influence on what they buy (Inc).
Millennials Negotiate Informally
This generation values informal negotiation as well as a robust digital presence. For example, close to 92 percent of B2B buyers use social media to engage with sales industry thought leaders. Although this informal process means that qualified leads will decrease, it’s important to remember that buyers are still engaged (RainToday.com).
They value a defined sales process, efficiency, and appreciate personalized responses. For instance, they may prefer a screen-share to an in-person meeting.
What this Means for Your Business
The landscape is changing in the B2B buying process with buyers researching and sometimes even buying without ever engaging with the sales team. Making sure you understand where buyers get their information and at the right time can positively impact your business.
Ultimately, your online presence and website should help convey and build trust, as well as share relevant information to assist a buyer’s journey. Digital, a Rand Group Service, can help. Contact our team of digital specialists today.