Throughout the years, generations have led major shifts and changes in how entrepreneurs and business-people alike advertise, market and convert leads. Before Baby Boomers, people born between 1944 – 1961, and even as Baby Boomers entered the workforce, the most common way for a lead to reach B2B sales reps was by phone and in-person visits, since computers were not around yet.
When Generation X-ers, people born between 1961 – 1981 entered the workforce, it became more common place to use email on top of phone calls to reach customers and prospects.
As younger, more technologically savvy generations filter into the workforce, already the sales experience has begun to shift. Millennials, people born between 1981 – 2001, are a part of the first generation that have access to the internet to research products and services they are interested in. Because of that, younger buyers are reaching out to sales reps later in the B2B sales cycle.
Why does sales need to consider younger generations in the B2B sales process?
For starters, consider the following stats:
- 18% of individuals ages 18-34 are already making buying decisions for their company.
- 82% of working individuals in the same age bracket already have some sort of influence or involvement in the buying process for their organization.
- By 2025, Millennials will represent 75% of the workforce.
Millennials are not only entering the workforce at a faster rate, but entering companies that are including them in buying decision process.
Even if you’re not currently engaging with younger generations in your sales conversations, you will be in the very near future.
How to market to younger generations
If you find your company struggling to close deals with younger clientele it is a good time to re-evaluate how your business and branding is actively working to connect with them.
Consider the following business characteristics to better market to younger generations:
“Feel good” branding
Younger generations like “feel good brands,” or brands that actively work for the community they serve. This shows up when attending industry events, volunteer opportunities or even relevant recreational events where your company may be sponsoring or taking part.
Beyond your brand
Take your brand beyond your company website, products and services. Your brand should embody your company personality, feel and experience any time a prospect or client interacts with you. Your company personality reflects what it will be like to work with you from a client perspective.
Something that many B2C and B2B organizations are failing to adapt to is that younger generations want a whole experience when they are shopping or browsing your products or services. Since B2B businesses do not have the store-front experience you need to create a sales experience that exceeds expectations. Here are a few areas to focus on:
- Social Media: leverage social media as a platform to connect with your audience who are learning more about your product/service.
- Website: maintain an easy-to-navigate, mobile responsive and resource-rich website (while avoiding these costly mistakes) to make it easier for your audience to learn more about your organization.
- Sales Enablement: provide your Sales team with the training and tools (product demo videos, audio/video conferencing technology, sales collateral pieces) needed to deliver a great experience.
How can you go above and beyond when you have someone in for a prospect interview or proposal?
Younger generations are more inclined to shop locally, and particularly when they are looking for an agency to help them with start-up initiatives. Consider incorporating geo-specific ads or promotions that will target local businesses in your industry.
Understand their needs
B2B buyers do not want to feel like they’re immediately being sold to, especially if they haven’t asked to be. Focus on understanding their pain points and how your company’s solution can help them address these issues. Use phrases like, “what I understand you need is this, and this is how we can provide the solution(s) to your problem. This is what we will do for you.”
Social media can’t be an after-thought, even for B2B companies
Regardless of the fact that you are handling a business-to-business sale, it is individual people within your audience that notice your efforts and make the decision to buy or partner with your organization. Nearly 45% of company research starts with social media so this is an opportune way to display company personality and industry awareness and knowledge.
Social media can be a free advertising outlet for your business so use it to its fullest potential! Check out our guide on how you can measure your social media marketing ROI.
Younger generations are more likely to reach out to sales at a later point in the sales funnel
Younger generations have grown up using the internet for research projects, schoolwork and even extracurricular activities or hobbies. They don’t feel the need to reach out to a sales person because they have already done a considerable amount of research on their own before making a buying commitment.
How to develop your sales process or pitch to get the attention of younger generations:
- Use “you” and “we” when communicating with prospects
- Highlight your company personality – “humanize” your brand by focusing your company values and messaging on your team and customers – show that you understand your prospects pain points too
- Leverage content as proof of industry expertise and knowledge
- Ungated eBooks
- Blog posts
- Stop top of funnel calls and cold calls
- Younger generations are more likely to do a significant amount of front-end research as a part of their own buying process versus accepting cold calls
- Add more touchpoints before labeling a prospect as an MQL
- Downloading a white paper or eBook from web form is a good way to generate interest then dropping those individuals in to a nurture stream to keep them engaged with your content and company
Companies that are able to evolve with the changing technology and social transformations are ones that survive and thrive through the times. As marketing and sales professionals, we know how important it is to create a relationship with your prospects and clients. Using these tips can help you to further develop and tailor your sales process for the different generations you interact with.