The millennial generation is changing the world, as we know it. Like it or not they need to be embraced, not fought against if your SME is going to thrive in the long term.
Their generation is so much more than ‘smashed avocado’ on toast loving hipsters, who want everything now’ as the headlines suggest. They are tech savvy and understand that there are ‘other ways’ of getting things done, outside of the traditional paradigms that have bound business thinking for so long.
These new savvy business people are coming of age and are now in control of – if not creating – some of the most influential companies in the world.
So how can anyone from within, or outside this generation work to create harmony and opportunities for your B2B sales? Here are a few tips to ensure you’re able to create harmonious business relationships with the millennial B2B buyer.
Talk ‘to’ them, not ‘at’ them
You may be a 20-year veteran, have made hundreds of deals, sold millions of dollars of products & services across a range of industries and you have earned your position. However, it is essential to remember that millennials are now the buyers, they are in the position of power and speaking down to a millennial buyer will cost you dearly.
To many outside this generation, millennials may be seen as ‘upstarts’, know it all’s and a generation that expects everything and doesn’t want to earn it. A misconception that will get you nowhere, except shown the door.
Be aware that the B2B millennial buyer has earned their stripes and they are more than capable of rejecting your business should they please – so work with them, talk with them and partnership with them, don’t talk at them or do so at your own peril.
What you sell doesn’t matter as much anymore
The millennial market believes that “brands that stand for more than their bottom line receive a greater millennial brand love”. I can hear the pundits in the room saying “well that shouldn’t impact our ability for them to review and buy our product on its merits”; well sorry…it means exactly that.
A recent study by Sacunas found that 80% of millennial business buyers say that the environmental, social and philanthropic efforts of potential vendors are important factors in their consideration. Can your business afford to not be socially responsible, giving back to the environment or the community? Not anymore, so how can you be prepared for such a challenge?
There are companies within Australia and beyond that are specifically set up to assist SME’s just like yours to adapt their business model to embrace ‘social enterprise’, embrace new ways of ‘giving back’ and profiting from doing good for someone else.
There is nothing more appealing to a millennial that ticking all the boxes on their personal and professional goals and beliefs all at the same time.
Embrace new ways of doing things
When it comes to your millennial B2B buyer, they often love their job and work/life balance involves them being online all the time, embracing new technologies and companies that change to meet their ever-present business needs.
‘I want it here, now & I don’t care how’ the well-known millennial mantra, must form part of your B2B customer journey as the need to embrace digital and responsiveness in brand & technology engagement have all become part of the B2B buyer behaviour.
Just because they may be young, they may have less experience than you or they may not have all the same qualifications you and people are your SME may have, remember that millennials have grown up in a world with smartphones, computers and applications always being a part of their lives.
Millennials know how to do things faster, more efficiently and sometimes with better results. Treat them as equals, embrace their paradigms and ensure you understand what makes them tick and your B2B experience will be far smoother for you and your company.
Understanding millennials is a great place to start
Just as you would any B2B buyer when engaging with them, you need to understand what makes them tick, their baits, loves, hates and how you can tap into them.
This means not making generalisations and assumptions or adhering to stereotypes but having a detailed understanding of their objectives and priorities and also how they buy. Millennial buying behaviours may vary depending on the dollars, risk and category involved. What do they look at? For example, what blogs do they read, what podcasts do they listen to, what are their favourite audiobooks, what devices do they use, how and when do they wish to communicate?
It should not be assumed that all millennials want to communicate via a device; a certain percentage will want face-to-face communication. As mentioned, it is not just simply about selling to them; it’s about providing high-value content that will educate and inform them on the topics that matter—in the format that engages with them.
Why should you as an owner, manager or employee of start-ups, SMEs or large corporates even care? The fact that over 70% of millennials are involved in purchase decisions already should be enough for all of us to stand up and take notice. The fact that this number will inevitably increase as the millennials grow further in management circles within the B2B space should make savvy & progressive organisations stand up and listen.
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