A Guide for B2B Marketing to Millennials

millenials-312x192As a Millennial growing in my life and career, I have learned that sometimes change is a reality that is hard to face. Saturday morning cartoons are gone, N’Sync is never getting back together (anyone who says they aren’t sad about that is lying), and it now takes weeks instead of hours to heal from an injury. But Millennials aren’t the only ones experiencing change. The work place is rapidly changing as well. In fact, Millenials (people born between 1981-1996) will make up the majority of the workforce by the end of 2015. That means at the stroke of midnight December 31stthis year there will be more Millenials in the workforce than anyone else. With this shake up in the workforce, it will be even more important for B2B marketers to understand how target this group of people.

IBM recently released a study of 704 B2B buyers focusing on the buying habits of Millennials. Interestingly, a large majority of the report naturally leads to an Account-Based Marketing approach as the best way to engage with the upcoming generation. Below are a few key takeaways for B2B Marketers trying to crack the Millennial code.

Market to the Entire Account

Think about the Millenials in your office. When was the last time you heard one of them lean over and ask, “what do you think about X?” Probably 10 minutes ago. Millennials actively seek consensus and collaboration. In fact, 56% say they feel they make better decisions at work with a variety of opinions and input from their peers. Marketing to the needs of entire account instead of to a single person will help develop a common language amongst purchasing teams. This alignment among influencers will prove to be valuable when these Millennials embark on the collaborative process of making buying decisions.

Personalize the Sales Cycle

You know how it seems that Millennials will just never stop talking and engaging with their networks? It’s because they’re a social generation. While researching products or services, Millennial’s actually prefer to interact with the vendors directly. They want authentic, personalized experiences to explore your offerings and ask questions. This means that during the research phase, you must be prepared to deliver a high-touch experience to your target accounts, and each touch must to be relevant to that account’s stage in the sales cycle. As marketers, you must be ready to personalize their experience at any given moment including live chat, in-person events, email communications, banner ads and your website experience, just to name a few.

Marketing Experiences Don’t End with the Contract

Competitive pricing will always be a factor in the decision making process, but beyond that, Millennials are primarily concerned with finding vendors who can act as collaborative partners and provide a great client experience. Delivering great, personalized experiences to build trust is key to gaining the initial contract signature, but it’s just as important to retaining Millennials as customers. Aligning your entire organization from Marketing to Sales to Customer Success Managers and all the way through to implementation and engineering teams is key to developing a stronger, long-term relationships with your customers. Implementing tools and processes for teams to actively communicate about the needs of prospects and customers will prove invaluable when the time for renewal comes around.

Millennials don’t have to be an enigma or a generation to fear (we made Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers to protect people not to scare them). But B2B Marketing organizations do have to accept the shift in buying mindsets that will become more prevalent as we continue to be a strong presence in the workforce. Approaching us with a strong Account-based Marketing strategy will deliver on our demands for collaboration and personalization in the purchasing process and will help build a long, successful relationship between organizations, which is really all we want.