With their growing spending power and their technology-enabled lifestyles, Millennials are comfortably near top of the priority list for retail, entertainment, healthcare, food, and all manner of consumer goods & services marketers. For the very same reasons they’ve captured the attention of B2C marketers, Millennials should be a priority for B2B marketers too.
Millennials aren’t just consumers, they are buyers. As of 2014, nearly half of all B2B buyers were born between 1980 and 1993, according to a study by Google and Millward Brown. That segment is steadily growing. Most Millennials who are now in the workforce have hardly known a world without instant Internet access, touch-screen devices like smartphones and tablets, email, and social media. ‘Digital’ is virtually their first language.
Whether buying for themselves or on behalf of their employers, Millennials favor B2B vendors that prioritize what they prioritize:
Responsiveness – in design, in service, everywhere
Millennials appreciate vendors and sales representatives that meet them where they already are – whenever and wherever in the sales pipeline that might be. That means websites that are visually appealing and fully functional no matter what device they are displayed on. It means customer service that reacts to all requests, whether those come in by phone, email, SMS, web chat, or social media. A business that proactively anticipates buyers’ needs at every touchpoint, and is prepared to meet those needs, will have a significant advantage.
Convenience and speed of service
Millennials are accustomed to near-instant gratification. The consumer sector has delivered on this demand – think next-day shipping and one-click purchasing, a la Amazon – and now the expectation for speedy, hassle-free B2B service is even more pressing. Vendors should be doing everything they can to reduce lag time in all phases of the purchase journey. This might include website loading time, easy-to-understand site navigation, and self-service options that allow buyers to complete a purchase without needing to make direct contact.
Personalized, sociable experiences
Ironically, Millennials don’t enjoy being typecast. They are customizers who celebrate their uniqueness and seek to express it. So when a business treats them as an individual, and not just an Account Number, it builds esteem and loyalty among these younger buyers.
This applies to both digital and offline sales and service. On the digital side, that can include websites that ‘remember’ them and deliver an experience based on their recent usage, instead of starting from Square One with every visit. Offline, it means blending professionalism with personality in any interactions, to further foster a personal relationship between vendor and buyer.
Millennials are also notoriously social and continuously plugged in to the world around them. According to a 2015 study by IBM, Millennials rely equally on recommendations from their networks of colleagues, friends, and family (not to mention online reviews and other word-of-mouth recommendations) as they do on data and research. This is especially true of higher-value purchases – they are not likely to follow through on a decision that isn’t backed up by the recommendations of others.
The ultimate goal: seamlessness
What Millennial buyers want most is a seamless experience throughout their purchase journey. On that journey, they are likely to bounce back and forth between desktop and mobile, website and social, email and chat, and everywhere in between. Any holes or drop-offs in that experience present opportunities for competitors to catch their eyes.
Being on the cutting edge of digital isn’t just a fashion statement. For B2B marketers, a superior customer experience, no matter the platform, is a critical component to lead generation and nurturing.
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