The Millennial generation is growing up and moving into positions of greater responsibility—which means that if your company sells products or services B2B, you’re going to be interacting with more Millennial buyers in the coming years. How do Millennial buyers’ needs and wants differ from those of Gen X or Baby Boomer buyers? A report by IBM polled Millennials (born 1980-1993), Gen X (born 1965-1979) and Baby Boomers (born 1954-1964) to learn what influences different generations when researching business products and services.
How they like to communicate: Millennials place a lot of importance on communication with vendors, but they’d rather not communicate face-to-face. Some 69 percent prefer to interact by email; just one-fourth prefer to meet in person. Rather surprisingly, 62 percent prefer to communicate by phone.
What they care about most: What vendor features influence different generations? Millennial buyers care about the ease of doing business with an organization and its willingness to work collaboratively. Gen X, on the other hand, cares most about whether the company can deliver its products or services to their satisfaction and whether the company has a reputation for quality. Finally, Baby Boomers care most about whether the company can respond quickly and whether it is committed to social or environmental responsibility.
Where they do their research: Millennnial buyers get most of their research information from vendors’ representatives, tradeshows and conferences, or colleagues in their company. In contrast, Gen X prefers to get their information from articles/papers/blogs by industry experts or analysts and by visiting websites or apps to read reviews and comparisons. Finally, Boomers split the difference, getting most of their information either from tradeshows and conferences, or from industry expert blogs/articles/papers.
What influences the decision: When Millennials are making a major B2B purchase decision, they are most in influenced by their company’s data analysis and, rather oddly, by recommendations from friends and family members outside the company. Gen X and Baby Boomer buyers, however, are most influenced by their personal experiences and impressions.
- What’s the takeaway for your business?
Know who you’re dealing with. As you work to make the sale, be sure to learn not only about the particular buyer, but any other decision-makers involved. A Millennial buyer may still need to convince a Baby Boomer boss before making a purchase. By knowing what generation you need to persuade, you can be sure to have appropriate tools at the ready.
- Be prepared. Use a variety of marketing content—from reviews and ratings to social media posts and recommendations to traditional spec sheets or white papers—so you can appeal to all types of B2B buyers
- Don’t underestimate the value of others’ opinions. If you are reaching out to baby boomers, the influence of others is a huge factor in their decisions. Spreading the word about your products and services via word-of-mouth, social media and providing references to satisfied customers can help these young buyers make up their minds in your favor.
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Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.