3 min read

B2B in 2016 and Beyond: Engaging Millennial Buyers

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The B2B decision making process is rapidly changing as millennials advance into positions of authority. As reported by a Google study, the percentage of B2B researcher positions held by millennials rose from 27% in 2012 to 46% in 2014, and is expected to be even higher today. More than ever, millennials are doing the important research that leads to B2B purchasing decisions.

Further research from Google shows that by the time contact is made with customers, an average of 57% of the buying process has been completed. Left unchecked, a significant percentage of the process is complete before your sales team ever gets to chat with a prospect. Through internet research, a medium favored by millennials, customers already know what they want before they talk to you. Your marketing must take into account this buying behavior to ensure your business remains competitive.

How Does This Buying Behavior Affect Your Business?

One of the biggest problems with this research-heavy buying behavior is that it reduces your opportunity to provide value. By the time a customer comes to you they’ve already made their decision – they just want you to fulfill it, preferably at the lowest possible price.

In the likely event of a competitor delivering a similar product or service your entire competitive advantage will simply boil down to whether you can offer what they want for the lowest price. Clearly this is bad for business, since many of the factors that contribute to your competitive advantage, such as expert knowledge and guidance, are circumvented.

Get on Top of Digital

With researchers doing an estimated 12 searches before making contact, and online search being their primary research tool, your marketing team needs to be embracing a more integrated digital marketing and sales approach. With the field of B2B research being increasingly dominated by millennials, the reliance on the internet is only set to increase in the future.

So what should you do?

Your team needs to ensure that they are reaching out to and communicating with prospects where they are doing their research. When they are searching for solutions to their business problems you need them to be finding high-quality content produced by and about your business, not your competitors.

You'll want to learn how to set SMART digital marketing goals and track key performance indicators across all communication channels, but two of the key areas you need to target are mobile search and video, both areas that are highly popular with millennials. By reaching out and putting information in front of millennial researchers, instead of waiting for them to contact you, you can start building a relationship in the awareness and consideration phases of their purchasing journey.

Opening Lines of Communication

Once you know how to attract Millennial B2B buyers to your website or online materials you need to provide them with appropriate communication channels. Millennials do not favor communication through phone calls, instead preferring channels such as online chat, social media, and text messaging.

By providing channels of communication that are popular with millennials you have a far greater chance of opening communication during the research and consideration phase, and being able to take advantage of the opportunity to provide expert assistance. This will result in an increased conversion rate, sales, and ultimately revenue.