Millennials are the most educated, tech-savvy, and the largest generation group since the baby boomers. We are also the new generation in the driver’s seat as 73% of millennials now hold powerful positions in B2B buying negotiations.
While the millennial connection to digital marketing and social media is not new, the latest trend is how we are shaping the world of B2B sales. Our skills and preferences are not only redefining work structures but pushing B2B sales and marketing teams to meet our expectations to remain competitive.
If you are here, you are either a millennial yourself or want to engage millennial buyers or both, and understand how our behavior and preferences continue to shape the B2B buying process.
How millennials think differently about technology, data, and business collaboration
If you are from generation x or the baby boomer generation, you may prefer to think of millennials as young adults, when in reality that is no longer the case. Many of us born between 1981 and 1996 are now accomplished professionals, in positions of power within your business or influencing B2B selling.
If you want to do business with us, keep in mind that we favor adaptive solutions, flexibility, and taking risks. For instance, since growing up with the internet and smartphones, it should come as no surprise that we are more open to adopting new sales technology than generation x and baby boomers.
We also absorb online information and dedicate more time to the initial research phase than older generations. Even the content we turn to is more well-rounded and ranges from opinions from industry analysts and social posts to testimonials and peer reviews.
At the end of the day, while generation X aims to work with thought leaders and boomers want to work with inspirational businesses, millennials would rather work with businesses that have a distinct vision and are committed to their societal obligations.
Millennials challenge B2B businesses with sales technology and data analysis
Let us take a look at how B2B businesses are responding to millennial buyers’ expectations.
What millennials are constantly on the lookout for is convenience – and digital transformation has always been the answer.
In an effort to remain competitive and avoid being left behind like some traditional practices, B2B businesses started to adapt significantly.
Investments in communication technology have risen as phone calls and emails became reinforced with communication via social instant messenger, networking apps, and blogs. Even within the workplace, B2B businesses are adopting multiple messaging platforms such as Microsoft Teams and Slack to improve internal workflow and communication across teams.
B2B businesses are also directing more efforts towards speeding up the sales process. For example, B2B businesses are adopting CRM solutions to have a single view of customers and improve the automation of routine tasks. hubsell’s B2B sales automation solution, for instance, creates a bridge between contact generation, multi-channel outreach, and real-time updates to your CRM.
Even when it comes to data analysis, more B2B businesses are enriching their data by experimenting with different types of B2B data. First-party intent data, for instance, reveals the trail of your prospects’ behavior while on your website or engaging with your campaigns. I recommend that you not only monitor intent data but a mix of firmographic, demographic, chronograph, and psychographic data. At the end of the day, this mix of B2B data will help you better define and segment your audience, create targeted content, and improve your campaigns.
Lastly, millennials are the education-driven generation, but on our own terms. As a result, we have seen a new wave of E-learning, podcasts, and on-demand videos coming straight to our desktops, laptops, and mobile devices. For instance, create value with video webinars and masterclasses, or personalised videos with easy-to-follow product tutorial instructions.
Millennial buyers expect a “customer-first ” experience from B2B businesses
Millennials want you to accommodate our preferences and make us feel like our needs are known and a priority. For example, through quick, real-time communication on different channels as well as a one-of-a-kind customer experience.
With all the research and interest in millennial trends, a great way to meet millennial expectations is by taking a prescriptive sales approach. What this means is making a point of identifying obstacles throughout our customer journey and taking steps to remove them early on. Simply keep in mind that you need to know where your prospect is in the buying journey at all times.
A common barrier that B2B businesses have identified and continue to address is offering a more retail-like experience where help is a click away. For instance, B2B businesses are responding with more personally relevant content that is easily accessible and more on-site tools such as live chat or chatbots.
There has also been a rise in intuitive shopping experiences as intent data is being used to create a sense of familiarity and recommendations with a personal touch. Another benefit has been advanced search results and prospects finding what they are looking for faster.
Demos and trials
Lastly, B2B businesses have found product demos to be an undeniable decision-making tool. Firstly, because it offers a firsthand experience and secondly it is essential for a good customer experience. If you are not taking advantage of this pre-purchase experience, I highly recommend incorporating demos into your sales princess along with demo video sign-ups.
Millennials have changed the game with user-generated content and peer reviews
A top priority for all of us is having confidence in the vendors we do business with, however, how this trust is earned has changed.
Millennials are massively persuaded by peers with 61% of us relying on peer reviews, recommendations, and referrals to navigate our purchase decisions. It should also come as no surprise that today this trust has to be established digitally in many cases.
To meet these expectations B2B businesses are creating more of a balance in their content. For instance, you can ask customers to leave reviews on your website so buyers are not directed elsewhere. Also, ensure you disclose product ratings and product reviews by sharing not just the benefits but the downsides of different solutions. You could even reveal the types of businesses that are a perfect fit for your product or solution.
In our opinion, on-site reviews are a great way for you to earn the trust of B2B millennial buyers. While you may be wary of negative reviews, keep in mind that my generation is more suspicious of products with a perfect five-star rating and there is a reward for honesty and gaining our trust- loyalty.
Millennials push B2B businesses to be active on social media and maintain an online presenceMillennials will rarely take a single message as fact, instead, we will research your business from multiple angles.
Website optimisationB2B businesses have come a long way from simply having a website, to using a website to inspire prospects to purchase. We have seen more B2B businesses with straightforward, user-friendly sites that offer consistent experiences across devices. What this does is counter the millennial tendency of clicking away when our needs are not instantly met. Aesthetics and functionality are however only part of the process. The other is featuring current, relevant, and accurate information.
Online presenceWith 62% of us millennials more likely to become loyal customers if a brand engages with us on social networks, maintaining this strong presence is not easy. The reason is that an online presence does not only consist of a strong persona but also includes responding to questions via social media outlets, keeping followers engaged, and responding quickly.
In response, more B2B businesses are gaining credibility and integrity with an effective online strategy. A great way to increase your credibility is by featuring and keeping online reviews up to date and even encouraging your customers to review you on Google and other social channels. What this does is engage with B2B millennial buyers outside your website and manage your public reputation.
Video contentLastly, the digital age has led to 6 out of 10 people preferring online videos to reading long-form content. B2B businesses are therefore harnessing the self-help power of video content. For instance, you could announce and create looms of new product features and add them to your email campaign, create product demo sign-up videos, turn your FAQs into video libraries and tutorials, or offer product explanations.
ConclusionThe time has officially come for B2B businesses to shift priorities and look into aspects of your business that have until now seemed to have little impact on sales. The impact of millennials on B2B sales and digital marketing is more critical than ever before. In a world where all of the answers are practically at our fingertips, it is the businesses that provide a) the most convenient sales experience, b) useful online information with the shortest path to achieving it and c) the best user experience that will ultimately win.
New readersFor those unfamiliar with hubsell, we provide an end-to-end B2B prospecting solution with on-demand generated B2B data and multi-channel personalised outreach automation software to generate qualified sales leads.
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