The millennial B2B buyer can’t be ignored

Author: 
Paul Nolan

It’s clear that millennials continue to greatly impact consumer marketing, but there has been less chatter about how their arrival in the work force has affected B2B sales. By 2020, it is estimated that millennials will make up more than half of the work force. Many of them are being promoted to decision-making positions. Dustin Grosse, Chief Operating Officer of ClearSlide, a sales engagement platform that empowers sales teams to engage customers, recently shared his thoughts with SocialMediaB2B about the changing dynamics of buying, selling and managing the generation that is out to save the world.

Millennials in the buying process
Millennials have a fundamentally different approach to the way they research, recommend and buy. They were born with cell phones and computers in hand. Traditional sales processes have been linear in nature, from qualification to educating the buyer to creating interest to close. That approach is dramatically changing in part because of millennial buyers.

Social communities like LinkedIn and Twitter allow buyers to understand your value proposition while doing their own online research, and they readily consume valuable information like videos, blog posts, how-tos, testimonials and more to form their impressions. Since most of the information gathering happens before any direct interaction with a company, sellers have to learn how to adapt to where buyers are in the selling process. Linear sales pitches end up frustrating millennial buyers and risk lengthening the sales process. Sellers today need to ask questions, listen and demonstrate value that aligns to what the buyer already knows and what they need to know to move the sale forward.

Millennials and onboarding
If you hand your millennial sales team a training manual, they’ll likely hand it right back. A better strategy is to encourage your millennial reps to learn from their peers — and specifically from leading reps. Use technology to make this possible — a homepage of all sales activity (like a social network), daily update emails, or the ability to listen to how top reps pitch via calls or videos
are all great learning opportunities. Social learning and collaboration is far more impactful than the traditional “coffee is for closers” sales environment.

Increase transparency
You can spark millennial salespeoples’ desire to overachieve by making recognition visible. Encouraging peer learning and healthy competition requires transparency throughout the entire sales process. By tracking engagement in a platform that enables every salesperson to see what others are doing, you create learning opportunities and engender competition at the same time. Savvy salespeople will be able to see what top performers are doing and incorporate that into their own selling practice. This higher level of visibility will also benefit sales leaders, because they will have more specific information on what works and what doesn’t.

Millennials should adapt as well
New blood in an organization forces everyone to learn new and modern ways of doing things, which is good. Buyers are changing, so you need sellers to change along with them. Millennials can push their workplace in new directions by advocating for openness and transparency, peer-to-peer learning, modern tools, mobility and by engaging customers through social media. At the same time, millennials should recognize that they have plenty to learn from other, more experienced colleagues as well.