Millennials aren’t kids anymore—they’re actually today’s B2B buyers. In fact, 44% of millennial B2B buyers are the primary decision-maker at their company, meaning that today’s buyer handles the buying process (making decisions, accessing information, etc.), differently from their predecessors. This means that the buyer’s journey is getting an overhaul. Will it completely change? No, but millennials are modernizing and bringing it into the 21st century.
Millennials grew up on the internet, so their perspectives are influenced by the digital world in ways previous generations may not have experienced. For example, millennial B2B buyers rely heavily on digital self-serve models and online customer reviews in their decision-making process, while previous generations would typically consult a sales rep directly. In fact, 29% of millennials wish they could self-serve the entire journey without ever speaking with a sales rep! This new approach to the buyer’s journey doesn’t have to leave your sales team scrambling—check out these tips for selling to today’s B2B buyers!
1. Equip Buyers with the Resources They Need to Do Their Own Research
Millennial B2B buyers typically prefer to do their research themselves. Today’s buyers don’t want to speak to salespeople—they would rather begin their buyer’s journey solo and rely on a salesperson once they’re ready to make a purchase. In fact, millennials are two times more likely to discover products by searching online compared to older generations. To accommodate today’s buyers, sellers should be able to easily pick up where the buyer left off in their own journey. From there, the seller should be prepared to help the buyer move forward in their buying process at whichever stage they happen to be in.
So, say your sellers are masters at the above. How do today’s B2B buyers actually make their decision so your seller can close the deal? Essentially, they want to see informative and educational content in places online where they already spend their time so they can find it themselves. By providing high-impact content at every stage of their journey and making it available through multiple digital avenues, salespeople can adjust themselves to the millennial mindset. Today’s B2B buyers’ preferences for a self-guided buyer’s journey may actually work in sales’ favor.
For example, if a buyer is more inclined to do their own research, they won’t be as receptive to sales reps, as they see this as interrupting their buying process. But by sharing product demos on Youtube, utilizing social media, and simply providing the right content for them to review at their own convenience, sellers can still communicate with today’s B2B buyers without directly speaking to them. Using digital channels to deliver content to these buyers allows for them to have instant access to the exact content they need exactly when they need it, while their fast-paced mindsets and penchant for research keep the deal moving along smoothly.
2. Build an Omnichannel Approach to Sales
Millennial buyers use digital channels along their purchase journey, including customer portals, channel partner portals, marketplaces, and more. In fact, when all else was equal (i.e, price, quality, etc.), 55% of B2B buyers said the digital buying experience is extremely important to selecting a vendor.
According to Gartner, with digital sales channels, buyers can access information across multiple channels and consume it when, where, and how they prefer. These digital sales channels include social media, email, virtual events, and even free trials. What’s important is that the information the buyer needs is readily available to them whenever they need it. So, having different resources across multiple channels ensures that the right message will reach the right buyer at the right time.
Social media is an important digital channel to utilize when selling to millennials. According to the 2019 B2B Millennial Buyer Survey Report, millennial buyers are engaging with current customers via social media and expect sales reps to do the same with them (and we don’t see this slowing down anytime soon). According to the same report:
- 63% of B2B buyers use social media to browse existing discussions
- 55% of B2B buyers ask for recommendations from other users
- 38% of B2B buyers use social media to connect directly with sales reps
To adjust to this, sales reps should utilize their own social media, such as Linkedin, to connect with today’s B2B buyers in a way they will be receptive to. A personalized direct message on Linkedin could even end up being the start of a major deal.
3. Share Content Today’s B2B Buyers Trust and Want to Use
Often, millennials are distrustful of salespeople, assuming that they will simply “yes” them through the deal even if their product or service isn’t quite right for them. That’s why it’s critical to share the most credible and trustworthy pieces of collateral to win over today’s buyers. (Pro tip: Include customer testimonials and accurate statistics about your product or service in your various forms of collateral to boost brand credibility).
Having grown up alongside Youtube and social media, tech-savvy buyers are well-versed in the nuances of content creation and therefore trust web content and technologies sparingly (remember Limewire?). According to the 2019 B2B Millennial Buyer Survey Report, millennials said that review websites (49%), web search (43%), demos/trials (38%), and social media (29%) were their main sources of information when making purchasing decisions. And according to a more recent survey by TrustRadius, millennials use product demos more than any other resource, and find free trials to be both the most trustworthy and the most influential.
Today’s buyers want a trustworthy experience streamlined and tailored to their specific use case, content included. 52% of respondents said organizations should provide a better mix of content to help millennials through each stage of their research and decision-making process. Increasing the variety of content you share on the internet (social media, Youtube, etc.) or through other sales channels is a great start. For example, try creating more video and interactive content to draw in millennial buyers. The same goes for product demos and free trials: if this is the content buyers find most influential, make more of it!
4. Position Your Salespeople as Experts in the Field
If organizations are facing a crisis of trust, how can you convince today’s B2B buyers to trust your sales team or your organization? Think about the content millennials seek out: reviews, product demos, free trials, etc. These are all resources that provide trustworthy and reliable information to guide them through the buyer’s journey. But, what is more trustworthy than an industry expert?
Sellers sharing content with buyers is one thing, but leveraging their own social media like Linkedin, participating in webinars, and speaking at conferences, allows them to establish themselves as thought leaders. Today’s B2B buyers might not initially trust a sales rep, but they will trust an industry expert. By creating and posting relevant content, making the right connections, and actively engaging with today’s B2B buyers, salespeople will be speaking millennials’ language.
For example, say your sales reps start utilizing Linkedin as part of their sales strategy. By creating relevant posts and engaging with others in their industry through comments and even co-hosting LinkedIn Live sessions, they’ll begin to establish their own personal brand. In turn, they’ll develop their brand as a credible resource for buyers to get high-quality information on a given topic. While posts and engagement alone will not make someone an industry expert, they can provide the appearance of expertise while they continue to build their posture in the field. Then, they can move on to sending direct messages to potential buyers. By reaching out this way, they are appearing more approachable and in touch with millennials instead of trying to force them to conform to the more traditional buyer’s journey.
This is less about learned expertise and more about building trust with buyers — communicate with them over social media, provide relevant and insightful information, and give them a reason to want to speak with you. From there, let the selling begin!
The buyer’s journey is evolving as more and more millennials become today’s B2B buyers. Selling to millennials can be tricky, but it is important to keep in mind that their main focus is trust—trust in where they’re doing their research, trust in the information they obtain, and distrust for traditional methods of selling.
Sales consulting firms, like SFE Partners, can help sales teams win over today’s B2B buyers. With the guidance of our sales consultants, your organization can get a leg up on the competition and adapt to the millennial sales method.
Ready to conquer selling to millennials once and for all? Get in touch with us.