The Millennials Are Here! Announcing Our New Research on Generational Buying Differences
September 5, 2017 | Melissa Nazar
Stories of the “entitled Millennial” at work, helicopter parents, and their pervasive desire to be considered special are pretty standard clickbait all across the internet today.
With these type of headlines dominating the storyline of what Millennials are up to, it’s easy to consider them strictly a B2C marketing problem. But! at SnapApp, we had a sneaking suspicion that there was more to it. We set out to explore the question, “How are Millennials and different generations impacting B2B buying?”
With the help of our friends at Heinz Marketing, we surveyed more than 500 professionals with buying authority (Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby boomers alike).
Millennials are simply not just a B2C concern. Our findings were surprising in many ways, and also confirmed what we suspected – the B2B buying process has changed (for all generations!) and both marketing and sales teams need to adjust, fast, to keep up.
See more on our report The Millennials are Coming! How Generational Differences Impact B2B Buying Committees Today
The millennials Aren’t Just Coming – They’re Here
Millennials are not only the future of buying committees, they are already playing a major role in B2B purchasing decisions. In fact, 13% of Millennials we surveyed are already making decisions on buying committees, while another 28% are influencing decisions.
Overall, 82% of Millennials are part of the decision-making process in some way–often in the role of researcher in the buying committee.
Even in the role of researchers on buying committees Millennials run the show differently. Where Gen Xers and Baby Boomers rely on the guidance of a salesperson, Millennials look to their peers, experts in the field, or other third-party sources for answers and insight on the prospective company.
“We were surprised to find how much pull a generation that is often overlooked in the buying process had” explained Matt Heinz, Founder and CEO of Heinz Marketing. “This research demonstrates that cracking millennial buying habits is not just a B2C problem–rather, there are clear incentives for B2B service providers to take a hard look at how their marketing and sales efforts are set up to cater to the preferences of this new, influential cohort of buyers.”
Sales Avoiders Are on the Rise
Millennials are sales avoiders, easily off-put by early sales interaction. This up-and-coming generation overwhelmingly prefers to begin the buying process with extensive independent research.
In fact, 60% of Millennials are more likely to wait to engage with sales until the middle of their buying process, long after they have done their own research–in direct contrast to Gen Xers and Baby boomers who prefer to engage earlier.
This critical difference between Millennials and older generations could be breed conflict within buying committees, and will need to be addressed by successful B2B sales and marketing teams.
White Papers Are Dead
Not only are millennials in the driver’s seat on buying committees, they are particularly turned-off by the go-to move in the B2B playbook: a gated white paper download, followed up immediately by a sales call.
This alone means it is time for sales and marketing to get creative, drop the lead gate, and start working with (not against) the new buying journey this up-and-coming generation demands.
Even more bad news for your white papers: all generations surveyed ranked them as one of the least valuable content types for them, with 30% of all respondents calling it their least favorite overall.
While traditional B2B sales and marketing tactics are clearly ineffective for Millennial buyers, the old playbook for engaging prospects is counterproductive for all generations of buyers. According to reported preferences of all generations surveyed, successful B2B marketers will need to ditch white papers and product demos in favor of the more universally preferred, robust social media personas and interactive content.
In fact, our research suggests that the future of successful B2B marketing is interactive, with 45% of respondents ranking interactive content within their top 3 most valuable content types in buying decisions.
Learn more about getting started with interactive content here
Me Over We
And this wouldn’t be a blog on Millennials without at least one mention of the relative “selfishness” of this rising generation: we found that Millennials are more likely to be individually focused when it comes to problem-solving.
This means that when it comes to buying behavior, Millennials are more likely to just jump in and start searching for a solution to an issue they personally are struggling with, and they are less likely to see a larger team issue as something they should try to tackle. Older generations typically willtake on team problems as their own.
“Millennials are far more likely to give voice to a problem rather than simply making do and “going a long to get along” as previous generations did, especially when the problem is one they are personally experiencing” noted VP of Marketing at SnapApp Aaron Dun. “This motivation to resolve their problems means millennials will be a powerful motivator for new B2B marketing and sales tactics as more move into the key decision-maker seats – marketers simply don’t have an option but to take notice and adapt–now.”
Millennials’ buying preferences may be a strong argument in favor of corporate social responsibility.
We found that a company’s values and their community engagement play a huge role in decision-making for Millennial buyers, whereas specific product features are more likely to sway Gen Xers and Baby boomers in the buying process.
Writing a New B2B Buying Playbook:
This research makes it clear that successful B2B sales and marketing teams don’t have an option but ditch traditional tactics if they hope to be successful in this new buying environment.
The savvy B2B marketer will drop product demos and gated whitepapers in favor of tactics that prioritize authenticity and connection, like interactive content and an engaging social media presence, and meet buyers from different generations with content and a process that meets their unique buying preferences.
That may sound like complicated change, but we’re here to help. Get targeted insights about how to engage Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers in our report, and begin writing your new playbook today.
“We all need to get smarter about how we engage our buyers, and forward-thinking companies can gain an advantage by making changes now”, stated head of content for MarketingProfs Ann Handley. “Old school volume-based lead metrics don’t cut it any more. Quality trumps quantity, now more than ever.”
You can download our full report here
Ready to Revamp Your sales and Marketing Efforts for the Future?
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Click here to register for our webinar where our report’s authors (Matt Heinz and Aaron Dun) will walk you through what you need to know.
Take the quiz: how well do you know each of these buying generations?