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Perspectives

How to Sell to the Next Generation of B2B Buyers

By Brian Odell   

With a growing number of Millennials influencing and making B2B buying decisions, your organization needs to be prepared to satisfy their unique needs.

In this recent study commissioned by Google, last year Millennials represented half of B2B influencers and decision makers. This is significant not only because of the shear numbers, but because they think and act differently. Unlike previous generations, they place greater value and are twice as likely to do business with companies with whom they believe they have a connection (having a purpose with which they can relate). Price and performance are simply not enough.  

What do we mean by purpose? It is often confused with social responsibility, however in B2B, purpose is more pragmatic – it relates to what a company stands for and can mean revolutionizing an industry or leading advances in technology. Not only does purpose drive preference for millennial buyers, it also motivates them as employees.

Below are three example of how to execute brand purpose within your marketing and sales efforts to connect with this growing number of decision makers and enable your team to improve your results. 

Prioritize Your Internal Marketing

In a recent post we featured an article about the third stage of B2B branding. It discussed the importance of prioritizing internal audiences as much as external ones. Further, it concludes that providing employees with a clear purpose and philosophy shortens the sales process.

Walk the Talk

Articulating brand purpose is important but without action results fall flat. It is easy to find B2C brands like REI who have successfully created programs that use purpose to connect with customers and inspire employees. In B2B, this practice isn’t utilized as often, although it can be just as effective. When developing your marketing and sales programs, go beyond traditional messaging. Create programs that, through action, deliver on your organization’s purpose. Just as Millennials are influenced by purpose, they are turned off by boastful or exaggerated marketing efforts.

Engage After The Sale

Once you convert a Millennial to a buyer, following with retention strategies that incorporate your brand purpose are crucial. Without them you are less likely to convert them to loyal customers and evangelists. That is important because Millennials are inclined to make and listen to peer recommendations, which delivers a greater return than paid messaging. 

Bottomline: if Millennials have an emotional connection with your brand, research shows they are much more likely to purchase. And, as their influence on B2B buying decisions continues to increase, creating a meaningful and compelling brand purpose for your B2B brand will be critical to differentiating your products and services to this important and growing audience.

Brian Odell

About Author

Brian Odell

30+ year veteran of B2B branding and marketing communications. Started out as a technical copywriter. Worked in PR. Eventually moved to account service. Founded Catalyst to serve B2B marketers looking for ways to leverage their brand as the stimulus for company transformation. Lots of experience, but definitely new age when it comes to brand strategy and activation.

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