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Written by Adam Thorp
The Emerging (and Powerful) Buyer in B2B
Millennials—the largest generation since the Baby Boomers—are the quickly becomming the key targeted by B2B marketers.
Much has been written about the Millennial in B2C: the most educated, tech-savvy, connected, thrifty, and socially and environmentally conscious. However, little has focussed on B2B - this is about to change, and needs to.
We're now on the cusp of a generational shift in B2B buying. As more Millennials move into decision making roles at work, or start their own companies where they are in charge, the influence they wield over B2B purchasing will only continue to grow.
Whether they are subject matter experts supporting a team decision or singularly responsible for selecting a vendor, millennials are having a significant impact on their organisations as well as the B2B vendors who want to do business with them.
IBM have just released a multigenerational study that explores the preferences and practices of those who influence B2B purchasing decisions. Just as consumer marketing is changing to appeal to Millennials, IBM’s findings show that B2B vendors also need to revamp their strategies to connect with this new generation of decision makers. This is leading to considerable rethinking of the traditional sales and marketing function.
IBM’s survey covered over 700 individuals who influence or are responsible for B2B purchasing decisions of US$10,000 or more for their company. They come from companies of various size, 12 countries and 6 industries.
The study found significant differences among the generations when it comes to how they make business decisions. Millennial and Gen X buyers are less likely than Baby Boomers. They want data, speed and trusted advisors who are eager to collaborate. Interestingly, they want to interact directly with vendors' representatives when they are researching products or services - far more than Gen X or Baby Boomer buyers.
The IBM survey also revealed that B2B buyers from different generations have different priorities when it comes to the attributes they look for in prospective vendors as seen in the table below.
When survey participants were asked what sources of information they are most likely to use when performing research, Millennial respondents ranked vendor's representatives first (out of nine possible choices), while Baby Boomer respondents ranked vendor reps fifth, and Gen X respondents ranked them seventh.
Do you think your sales process or methodology aligns to this?
If your organisation sells B2B - you need to read this report and rethink your strategy and how you execute it, because that the same old process of sales enablement and effectiveness no longer enables and nor is it effective.
Read the full report here (here).