It’s pretty unbelievable that many of us who a second ago were roaming Coachella and buying Drake concert tickets are now taking over key decision making positions in B2B enterprises, causing a massive, unbelievably quick makeover to B2B ecommerce in general, and specifically - the consumerization thereof.
This has implications for everyone working with Millennials throughout the B2B buying journey – and ultimately the journey of turning customers into advocates.
The consumerization of the B2B buying journey
Increasingly, people on the B2B buying journey approach the technology purchase process through the lens of B2C. 81% of buyers indicate that the experience a company provides is as important to them as its products and services. They expect an Amazon-like experience with a high degree of self-service and personalized offers, and they are ready to take their business elsewhere if their needs are not met.
This shift in expectations is led by Millennials, who grew up with technology and online shopping, and who today make up over 75% of the total US workforce.
A generational shift in the buying committee
Millennials are firmly established as part of the technology purchasing process for their companies, with 73% of them providing input and 34% assuming the role of decision-maker. They bring different attitudes and needs to the B2B Buying Journey:
• They expect sellers of products and services to tailor their engagement to their individual needs and preferences. Millennials don’t want to be sold to: they want to buy on their terms.
• They are comfortable using a broader variety of channels, devices and technologies – expecting a consistent experience throughout.
• They look for self-discovery and self-service both pre-sale and post-sale – and immediate real-time communication when raising their hand.
These generational traits have implications for the whole buying journey, from pre-sales to deployment and from onboarding to customer advocacy.
Marketing, Sales and Customer Success have to adapt, asap
Sales & Marketing: Trust, trust, trust. This has become a key ingredient of what buyers are looking for in a technology provider, and you as the seller need to become their trusted advisor and make them acknowledge your expertise.
As far as advertising goes - B2B ads on social channels, podcast advertising, any diversified channel works - as long as you’re reaching them in their niche media consumption route. Best to lead your marketing effort with brand and experience, un-gating content, highly personalizing the messaging, and providing pricing transparency.
Today’s buyers are well informed by the time sellers have their first touchpoint. They are educated and prepared and don’t want sellers to waste their time. Sales professionals need to meet buyers where they are in their journey, and personalize their value prop, communications and offers.
Customer Success: Customer success managers are the business world’s loyalty marketers. B2B companies need to take clues from B2C and use proven practices for developing deep brand relationships, which turn customers into advocates – and advocates become your best sellers. Customer success managers need to provide a great experience for Millennial business customers and help them get the most value out of their product or service. These customers expect to be served through a variety of channels from DMs to chatbots, with a consistent experience across all channels.