B2B sales have changed drastically in the past decade. Cold-calling as a lead generation tool no longer cuts it. Sales people have had to abandon the telephone and break into the world wide web.
Identifying your target audience and appealing to their interests is becoming the driving force behind successful digital marketing campaigns and lead generation. It is difficult to ignore. Understanding consumer behaviour is necessary for success in the modern digital selling market.
So, who is the modern B2B buyer?
It’s hard to ignore the impact that millennials are having on the B2B sales process. Those born between 1980 and 2000 make up this tech-savvy generation. They have entered the professional world and are making an impact. Fast.
Millennials make up almost half of B2B researchers, and it has been predicted that by 2025 millennials will make up 75% of the workforce. With millennials progressing into research and purchasing positions in the workplace, it is important for B2B sellers to understand and appeal to their buying preferences.
The decision-making process
In the workplace, almost one-third of millennials are the sole-decision maker while 73% of millennials are involved in the purchasing decision at their companies. Therefore, understanding their decision-making process is important.
More than half of millennials report digital channels to be the most important research tool in gathering information on new products and services. This is hardly surprising. This generation developed alongside the technology that blurs the lines between our social and professional lives. Establishing a digital presence is growing increasingly important in lead generation.
Over half of B2B buyers use their mobile phone to access B2B websites, resulting in the increasing need for accessibility across multiple devices. 55% of millennial B2B buyers, and 36% of buyers over the age of 45, are using their mobile device when researching potential purchases.
Ensuring your website and content are accessible on both mobile and tablet devices is important to the modern internet user, let alone a B2B researcher or buyer. If your web page is not optimized for ease of access through mobile devices it promotes the impression of your business as outdated.
The importance of mobile accessibility goes beyond the aesthetic. As of November 2016, mobile-friendly web pages rank higher in Google search engine results. Google has implemented algorithms to promote mobile accessibility across web pages. Undoubtedly, mobile accessibility is vital to ensuring your B2B website remains relevant.
Social media platforms are an important component of social selling. Millennials are no strangers to social media. Sales teams no longer hold the upper-hand in the B2B relationship. B2B buyers are taking control of their buying process and it is up to sellers to meet them on their terms. Buyers are harnessing the power of social media to explore their options and discover brands.
Facebook has proven to be the most popular social media platform with 41% of millennials logging on daily. These preferences are mirrored in the professional world, with 40% using Facebook as a digital tool to research products and services.
Reviews and referrals
Once something is put up on the internet it stays there forever. This doesn’t become much truer than in the case of businesses. While some company websites will provide a section dedicated to testimonials from satisfied customers, many social networking sites are now providing platforms for customer reviews. Poor reviews can now garner a greater deal of attention with the ability to share customer’s complaints across Facebook and Twitter.
While testimonials and good reviews can be a good lead generator, poor reviews can have the opposite effect. Millennials in buying positions pay attention to such reviews before choosing whether or not to communicate with a business.
Glassdoor is a social platform which allows employees (former and current) to leave reviews and provide information about a company’s hiring process, interviewing process and salary information. A recent survey by Merit found that out of those who had heard of Glassdoor, 37% found the information provided was valuable when considering a company.
During the Vine era, millennials made up 71% of Vine users so it’s no surprise that they enjoy interactive media. Although the Vine-ing days are over, video mediums are an increasingly popular digital marketing tool.
When compared to case studies, whitepapers, brochures, webinars, and infographics, video content is the preferred form of gathering information about prospective businesses. 80% of this generation of buyers find videos to be an important tool during the research phase of their buying journey, with 25% reportedly losing interest if there is no video on the business’ website.
Another important aspect to keep in mind when producing video content is the accessibility to all audiences. Including subtitles on your video can increase the accessibility to those with hearing difficulties. Leveraging the use of video as a digital marketing tool is becoming an essential component in reaching the modern buyer.
A digital platform harnessing the popularity of video marketing is Snapchat. The foundation of Snapchat is the sharing of pictures or videos with friends or followers (dependent on how popular you are). Directly shared content disappears once viewed, while content added to a user’s story disappears after 24 hours.
Snapchat’s Discover feature is re-establishing the platform as a digital marketing tool. Partnering with news outlets such as CNN and New York Times, along with interest providers including Cosmopolitan, ESPN, and MTV, the Discover feature is a platform for interactive content that refreshes after 24 hours. It’s quick, it’s fresh, and with Cosmopolitan reporting an average of 19 million views per month, it’s proving to be extremely successful.
Snapchat is increasing in popularity with millennials. Reportedly, over 50% of new Snapchat users are over the age of 25.
The B2B buying journey is changing. It is being increasingly influenced by a digitally ingrained generation and it looks set to continue.
Studies indicate that millennials will make up three-quarters of the B2B workforce within the next eight years. Ignoring their impact on the buying journey is a mistake that B2B companies need to avoid, and sooner ran than later.
Increased accessibility to content, the implementation of digital video into marketing campaigns, along with strategic sharing across multiple social media platforms can grab the attention of millennial B2B buyers early in the research phase of their buying journey.