4 Ways Gen Y Is Changing the B-to-B Sales Process
With this in mind, let's take a look at some of the ways B-to-B marketers can address the effect Gen Y is having on the selling process.
1. Match your approach to the participants involved in the buying process.
"The leading edge of these millennials is getting closer to 29 years old," Brohan notes—meaning that while more are moving into areas of purchasing responsibility, the majority are key influencers. "They're the ones that do all the research, write up the report and provide recommendations to their bosses and beyond," Brohan explains.
With two to three different generations involved in the typical B-to-B purchasing decision, Needles advises marketers to match their communications to each stage, and thus each group. To reach Gen Y audiences during the research phase, it's important to use digital tactics (webinars, Twitter and blog posts) to draw in this tech-savvy market; your goal is get them thinking in tandem about your firm with the problem their company is facing so you can become part of their solution set. Then, he says, when you're further down the buying process, when a Gen X or boomer manager might get brought into the evaluation and decision-making stage, a marketer will want to be prepared for more traditional sales tactics (RFPs, phone calls, in-person visits).
2. Today's influencer is tomorrow's decision-maker.
Needles notes that plenty of B-to-B professionals are not taking new media seriously, making jokes about Twitter and questioning its influence on sales. He cautions against that short-term thinking. "The truth is," he says, "[new media] are a big part of the upstream education of and influence on people who are doing the evaluation stage. So, if you don't take those media seriously ... you could then set a bad precedent where you may or may not have gotten the sale today, but what kind of relationship are you building with this Gen Y, millennial buyer who in five or 10 years is going to be the boss?"