The millennials are growing up, and as they do so, they move to more prominent, decision making roles. Take company B2B buying committees, for example. 82% now include at least one millennial employee. Considering the majority of buying teams now have some millennials to impress, it’s important to consider what they’re looking for when making purchasing decisions.

So what roles do millennials play on their buying teams?

  • 13% Decision-Maker
  • 27% Influencer
  • 17% Project Manager
  • 38% Researcher

This information shows that most millennials are not yet making the final decisions, but the fact that so many are researchers and influencers shows that they have an effect on the final decision. Without impressing them, you’ll likely never be seen by the decision-makers, so it’s best to remember that millennials are likely your “in” when it comes to buying decisions.

So what do millennials value most when deciding to buy? Resources for research, vendor-buyer relationships, and company values. We break them down – and what you can do about them – below.

The Value of Research

Generally, millennial buyers aren’t going to be willing to immediately interact with your sales team. It’s too much of a commitment so early on. Rather, they’d prefer to do some research first. 59% of millennials prefer to engage with sales after they’ve done some research. Millennials are also more likely to contact salespersons late in their research (27%) rather than early (9%). This shows that they’d prefer to rely heavily on company information first before hearing any kind of pitch from your salespeople. As just stated, the majority will reach out in the middle of the process, so most of the time, you’ll have the opportunity to influence their decision before they get closer to the final consideration process. The fact that over a quarter, however, reach out late, shows that many want to be certain about you before communicating, and that they have confidence in finding the best solution from non-relationship based research alone.

millenials and engagement with sales team

So how can you use this idea to your advantage?

Laying out all the information you can to potential buyers is the best way to approach these statistics. Include informative and relevant content within your company blog to attract researchers to your site. Also, include case studies, testimonials, and any other form of proof to prove the effectiveness of your B2B services. Buyers want a product that works; simply stating that it does isn’t enough, especially with buying employees pushing off contact with vendor salespersons until they have sufficient information.

Further, include landing pages on your website – perhaps providing a free e-book or webinar in return. This way you can capture the contact information of buyers and encourage them to take the next step in their research process. Further, email from the landing page captures can serve to remind buyers of your company’s benefits and other useful information.

Enhancing Your Vendor-Buyer Relationship

Despite the fact that millennials may wait to contact the vendor sales team, they value their relationship with vendor employees as the most effective resource for evaluating solutions. Third-party references and case studies trail second and third, respectively, in terms of effective resources.

millennial purchase research preferences

What should you do about it?

Two things: (1) try to build the relationship as early as possible during their research process and (2) work hard towards having your best possible vendor-buyer relationship.

To address number 1, make it as easy as possible to contact your company. You can offer live chat on the site. Or you could provide calls-to-action on your content, encouraging viewers to contact your company via a contact form. Also, going back to the previous discussion of landing pages, you can use this contact info to encourage a conversation between buyer and salesperson.

There are plenty of ways to enhance your relationship once it’s initiated. Work actively to provide personalized solutions to their problems. Offer to send them additional resources. Convince them to meet in-person – face-to-face is more personal and can often be more effective.

Millennial Buyers Want a Company that Cares

Interestingly, many millennial buyers placed company community involvement and company values ahead of every other factor when determining which companies to work with. They’re looking for companies that go beyond good work by doing good things.

millennials vendor preferences

How can my company accomplish this?

Live your company values and actively get involved in the community – and then communicate it.

Company values aren’t just important for internal culture anymore, they influence customers as well. Communicate your company values through your work and content, as it’s sure to attract customers with similar value sets.

Further, find a worthy cause that your employees and upper management can get behind. Encourage employees company-wide to get involved, through volunteer work, fundraising, or both. Then share in the form of content – press releases, blogs, news, etc. – on your website and on social media.

Our whitepaper on Cause Marketing is actually a really great resource on how to best get involved and then market your involvement. We cover:

  1. Picking your nonprofit wisely. Pick a nonprofit that your employees can feel passionately about and that makes sense with your business. A good nonprofit for a makeup brand that chooses to not use animal-testing for its products may be an animal shelter, for example.
  2. Integrating the cause into company culture. Taking it one step further by integrating said cause with who your company is further communicates your commitment.
  3. Giving more than money. Time is just as, if not, more valuable than money. The whitepaper covers ways to give non-monetarily.
  4. Be transparent and demonstrate the impact of your cause. Be willing to discuss where donations go and what they’re used for. Then demonstrate the effectiveness of your efforts.
  5. Leverage PR and social media. If you’re putting all this effort into your community involvement, it’s important to communicate it. Use social media, PR, and other means to share your involvement.

Research, Relationships, and Values

To make a long story short, the B2B millennial buyer values 3 things when making a buying decision: research resources, vendor-buyer relationships, and company values. Working hard to provide millennials with the most informative resources and actively working to improve relationships may ultimately finalize their decision. Further, they want companies with strong values and community involvement; so demonstrating these traits can ultimately convince buyers that your business is their best fit – both logically and emotionally.

Marketing Assessment