The B2B Buyer of the Future

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Historically, companies looked at what the unique identifier was for their businesses. By being unique, this was enough to attract buyers. Uniqueness could be something along the lines of ‘we own the ecosystem’ or ‘we have market power on our side.’ However, our world is changing.

In a survey by Accenture, “71% of B2B buyers would switch suppliers if the overall digital experience was better with another organization.” Having that unique identifier is not enough anymore.

Think about these lyrics from Bob Dylan “The Times They Are A-Changin’“ (1963)

Come mothers and fathers

Throughout the land

And don’t criticize

What you can’t understand

Your sons and your daughters

Are beyond your command

Your old road is

Rapidly agin’.

Please get out of the new one

If you can’t lend your hand

For the times they are a-changin’.

The song is about generational change, with the key message being, adapt or die. In other words, as our buyers change, our businesses also must change. If our businesses don’t change, then our businesses will die.

Boomers and GenXers

Many of us are from the Boomer or GenX generations. We prefer in-person meetings and phone/email to conduct business. Our focus is on building relationships. And many of us are retired or in the process of or thinking about retiring. Boomers expect companies to share the research about their product or services. GenXers expect a company to demonstrate the research.

Millenials - Today's Buyers

We all know the stereotype of a millennial:  lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents. Oh, and they love avocado toast. Right?

Let’s look at the facts. Millennials were born between 1981 – 1996. Which means, the oldest are now 38 years old. 73% of the professionals involved in B2B purchasing decisions today are Millenials.

In business, Millennials are all about online, email and texting. They care about social proof, peer persuasions and visuals. And as they grow older, they are moving into management.

Millennials are further along in the buying process than other generations, because they have done the initial research themselves before their first meeting with you. They show up prepared. They do distrust faceless “corporations,” valuing transparency and authenticity. They don’t appreciate unnecessary calls; they want to efficient with their time. They hate being ‘sold’ to, but they do appreciate being ‘educated’.

If you are not already thinking of Millennials as buyers, you are behind. They are today’s buyers. Think about it – Millennials grew up digital and they have high expectations:

  • Your website quality directly reflects your product or service
  • They expect peer reviews and ratings
  • They value speed and efficiency
  • They expect to make informed decisions
  • Are socially and environmentally conscious
  • Are security aware; data protection policy is important to them

GenZ - Tomorrow's Buyers

To really be prepared, we need to start thinking about tomorrow’s buyer – GenZ. They were born after 1996; the oldest is now 22 and graduating from college. As they enter the workplace, they expect flexible work hours. Your business must be available when they are, which means 24/7 contract automation and onboarding will be critical.

Video dominates their lives. On average, they spend 23 hours per week watching video, especially on their phones. They expect open communication. Be prepared to be challenged, and to be challenged openly and publicly.

What do you need to do to be prepared for the future? First, you need to be in their communities:

  • Join LinkedIn and Facebook groups
  • Contribute resources, mentors and training
  • Attend Meetups
  • Sponsor their events

Corporate social responsibility is critical to this generation:

  • They want to make a difference
  • They vote with their wallet
  • They also have more influence than you think

GenZ also wants to be part of the creation process. They expect highly customized packages and service offerings.

In Conclusion...

As you think about your business, what buyers you are targeting? Have you adapted to today’s buyers, Millennials? Are you thinking about tomorrow’s buyers, GenZ? What changes do you need to make? How are you going to adapt?

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