4 Ways Gen Y Is Changing the B-to-B Sales Process
As the older segment of Gen Y—the population segment generally defined as being born between 1980 and the early 2000s—takes on bigger roles in the buying process for their employers, B-to-B firms are challenged to adapt their selling strategies.
A survey of 300 managers up to age 35 was conducted last year by Chicago integrated marketing agency Colman Brohan Davis and research firm E-RM. The results indicated a "propensity for social and interactive communications," the agency reported. In fact, only four out of the 13 tools that respondents indicated they use to research products and services are traditional media, and the agency noted that even their influence was waning. Use of social networks, on the other hand, had increased 152 percent year over year.
According to Liz Brohan, president and co-CEO of Colman Brohan Davis, it was no surprise that the information-gathering tendencies of a group that has grown up with online technology would center on the Internet. "Or that Google would be a verb for them," she says.
What was a surprise is "as much as we think of Gen Y as tech-driven and that all our emerging marketing technologies need to be geared toward them, they are highly integrated [with respect to media]. They're a group that will leave no stone unturned when it comes to research," she explains.
The takeway on this study-finding for Brohan is that companies' marketing mixes need to be highly integrated with what she calls "an eye toward omnipotence. So that you're everywhere that you suspect this individual might be looking for information—which will frustrate marketers, no doubt about it, to have fracture their media budgets further."
The Colman Brohan Davis research mirrors the trends Adam Needles is seeing take shape, too. Needles is director of field marketing and B-to-B marketing evangelist at Silverpop, an Atlanta-based provider of e-mail marketing and marketing automation solutions. "Somewhere around age 30 to 35, you can draw a line in the sand between people who are used to calling around to get everything, and [it's been] all about relationships and face-to-face," he says, and the Gen Y buyers and influencers who expect to conduct a great deal of the buying cycle online. With the latter, "you have people whose expectation is that companies should put everything on their websites; they should be getting real-time feeds and information; and companies should be totally integrated into Twitter and the blogosphere."