“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein
Like it or not, change is a constant. While keeping up with it can be challenging, doing so can be rewarding.
In business, change often means embracing the latest technology and learning new skills. It’s also about keeping up with generational transitions, which includes understanding what makes people tick and figuring out how to adapt your sales strategy to their preferences and expectations.
The fact is, Millennials have moved into the executive suites and are taking the lead in business decision-making. Not only are Millennials now the single largest generation in the US workforce, but they also make up more than 70% of B2B buyers.
Millennials are not your fathers’ or mothers’ buyers. They have distinct styles and preferences of their own. And if you want to sell to them effectively, you’ll need to do the following:
- Meet their expectations
- Position your sales message where they will see it
- Earn their trust.
Here are seven ways to adapt your sales strategy to millennial B2B buyers and decision makers:
1) Provide an Engaging Digital Customer Experience
Millennials are the first truly digital generation. While others have acclimatized to a digital world, Millennials grew up in it. As such, according to The New B2B Buyer Experience Report, they prefer a digital customer experience that’s designed to accelerate their buying decisions, which includes:
- Personalized portal content (45%)
- Easy-to-use ROI calendar (44%)
- Augmented reality (38%)
- Video chat options (33%)
- Instant messenger interaction with reps (22%)
In other words, Millennials expect a digital environment that:
- Is personalized to their specific wants and needs (e.g., industry, pain points, objectives)
- Showcases products and services virtually
- Enhances buying decisions using interactive tools such as calendars, calculators and configurators
- Supports options for human sales assistance as needed
2) Give Them More Contact Options
While Millennials are most comfortable with a remote, virtual buying process, they expect to have the option to reach a real person when (and how) they want. In other words, the best buyer’s journey is digital with analog options. According to an IBM Institute for Business Value report, they want (in descending order of preference) contact via:
- Email (69%)
- Phone calls (62%)
- Text messages/SMS/WeChat/WhatsApp (24%)
- Face-to-face meetings (24%)
- Live/video chats (21%)
- Social media (19%)
3) Understand What Drives the Millennial
While a lot of our B2B sales strategy is about the tools, platforms and technology, and preparing our sales reps to take full advantage of them, we need to also prep them on what makes Millennials tick. Yes, they are comfortable in a digital world, but they also look for companies that reflect their concerns.
In particular, they are attracted to companies who walk the walk on social, philanthropic and environmental issues. If you contribute to any programs that serve these issues, have an active green policy companywide, or support local and minority businesses, you need to make that part of your message.
4) Build Your Reputation
While recommendations, word-of-mouth referrals and product reviews are essential to everyone, for Millennials, they are crucial. According to one UK study, 80% of Millennials admit that they check reviews and recommendations before making a buying decision.
Another survey of Millennials shows user reviews are second only to product demos for preferred information sources. So it’s critical to pay attention to what is said about you, your company, products, services and solutions.
While you can’t control other people’s opinions, you can pay attention to any issues or problems that buyers have and address them quickly. The next best thing to a rave review is one that praises you for quickly and effectively resolving a problem. Also, you can be more proactive about encouraging happy customers to share reviews online and asking for referrals.
5) Make the Most of Your Online Presence
For the generation that grew up with the Internet, it’s not surprising that 94% of buyer journeys begin on the Internet. One of the best ways to support your sales reps is to make the most of your online presence:
- Make your website fast and efficient—don’t let large graphics and poor design slow load times.
- Design your site for multiple platforms, especially mobile access.
- Provide a rich resource of content in a range of formats—white papers, case studies, testimonials, video links, reviews and more.
- Showcase fresh content on the homepage so that return visitors see it; blogs are an excellent way to present new content regularly.
- Focus on your SEO strategy to make sure you come up in searches.
- Increase your social media visibility and link back to your website. According to an IDC study, 84% of top decision makers rely on social media when making buying decisions.
6) Expand Your E-commerce Options
It’s time to rethink B2B e-commerce. Just as most tradeshows, face-to-face meetings and product demos are proving to convert successfully to virtual events, more complex sales can be handled online, especially repeat sales.
Today, three-quarters of B2B decision makers prefer either remote communication with a rep or self-serve e-commerce. Companies need to equip their e-commerce platforms with the information, help options, calculators and configuration tools needed to make purchases easily and successfully.
7) Give Your Sales Reps Tools and Training to Win at Digital Sales
Last, but certainly not least, is the sales rep. While the ranks of the inside sales rep have increased steadily over the years, the COVID-19 pandemic escalated the transition. For so many companies forced into lockdown, it was go remote or go home … permanently. They invested in the digital platforms necessary to carry on business virtually.
Inside sales reps were already comfortable selling by phone, email and digital conferencing. Outside reps, when possible, transitioned to a hybrid model—handling much of the sales process remotely.
In addition to the customer-facing technology that supports a virtual sales call, companies are investing in AI-enabled customer data platforms (CDPs). These allow reps to use data more effectively, cut administrative tasks and increase customer-facing sales time by as much as 200%.
Millennials are dominating B2B decision making today. Thus, your competitive advantage hinges on your ability to understand the Millennial mindset, exceed their expectations and adapt to a virtual sales model that gives buyers the information, flexibility and self-sufficiency needed to reach a buying decision.