Meet Your New Buyers: Millennials

July 17, 2019

Millennial Buyers

Millennials now make up the largest generation in the global workforce.  They are now 23 to 38 years old and rising through the ranks of the organizations they work for, shaking things up with their digital savvy and high consumer expectations. This generation may get a lot of bad press, but many Millennials are now your customers and prospects.

What do Millennial buyers mean for salespeople?

With up to 15 years of experience, Millennials are playing an increasing role in B2B purchasing decisions. According to a recent study by Merit, 73% of millennials are involved in the decision-making process, and one third are the primary decision maker for their department. 

The thing is, these buyers think and act differently from the buyers that seasoned sellers have built relationships with over the last few decades. Understanding and adapting to the millennial approach to purchasing and attitude towards salespeople is critical to future success of your sales organization. 

A key challenge is that Millennials have a general distrust of salespeople relative to other generations. They are more likely to believe a seller’s only goal is to sell their product, not to solve their business problems. Further, only 37% of buyers believe salespeople are honest about the shortcomings of their products. 

This skepticism of vendors combined with the wealth of information available online leads many millennials to do and trust their own research first. Forrester found that 68% of B2B buyers say that they prefer to gather information online on their own rather than learn from a salesperson. So, when you finally get these millennial buyers on the phone, they may be up to 57% of the way through their buying process. They have already identified their needs and likely understand your product and its value in solving their challenge.  

So, what can you do?

As Miller Heiman CEO Byron Matthews points out, “it's no longer just about [sellers providing] information but sellers must also provide inspiration about a problem the buyer hasn't thought of." It’s the sales reps that bring something new, show an understanding of the business, and challenge thinking that really stand out and win-over millennial buyers.  

To earn their trust (and their business), you need to show these buyers that you know them. Sellers should show they understand not only how their product/service will positively impact their customer’s business, but their career as well Coming to them with generic feature and function information will not only bore them, it will drain your credibility.

Remember, Millennials are digital natives. They’ve been posting about their lives and opinions on social media for at least a decade. They will have a basic expectation that you have done some preliminary research on them, their role, and their organization.

LinkedIn is a great place to learn about and engage these buyers. There are 8 million director level + millennials on LinkedIn and they are more active than many of their Baby Boomer or Gen X peers. 

  • They are following 2.4X more companies -- these are warm leads for reps to capture and engage. 
  • They are sharing 2X more: Read their posts, understand their challenges, engage with how you can help solve them. 
  • They read InMail 2X more: This is a new, trusted channel to engage them (with insights you’ve gathered), outside of their cluttered inbox. 

As buying committees become increasingly millennial, it’s increasingly important to adjust sales motions to fit their preferences. Be proactive, leverage the mounds of information out there to understand these millennial buyers, and engage them the way they want to be engaged. Sales teams that do this will hugely outperform those who don’t over the next few years.

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