Frost & Sullivan forecasts that the global b2b ecommerce market will top $6.7 trillion by 2020, making it twice the size of the b2c market. This predicted growth is being fuelled in part by the increasing influence and b2b buying power of millennials – according to PwC, they’ll account for 50% of the global workforce by 2020.
With their reliance on technology and their extensive experience as online b2c consumers, millennials bring a new digital-first perspective to the workplace, and a new set of expectations as b2b buyers. So what can help b2b sellers make stronger connections with millennial buyers?
Research from Google says that most of these buyers start their online searches with generic product-based terms, and average 12 searches before visiting a particular seller’s site to find out more. And when they reach a site, millennial buyers expect to find clear value propositions and easy access to the products and services they’re interested in, as well as signposting to customer service staff and the opportunity to easily engage with the sales support team in whatever way they choose. They also expect sites to be optimised for mobile devices.
Researchers also report that millennials are less likely to read trade publications or visit industry events, preferring instead to rely on Internet search engines, seller website content (especially video for on-the-go research using a mobile device) and social media (such as LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube) to inform their buying decisions. Surveys say that Facebook, for example, is used by around 40% of millennials, (and is more popular with females) to research new b2b products, while LinkedIn is visited every week.
When they’re investigating products, millennials like to be able to digest information quickly, view products in action (in product training videos, for example) and see case study proof points that back up any product claims. In other words, they prefer practical, relevant information, rather than, say, news about the company or industry white papers. What’s more, Nielsen says that millennials value an authentic brand story; they like to feel they have a personal connection with a brand, and in response, they’ll endorse and recommend it.
By focusing on developing the customer experience in these ways, millennials, can be loyal brand champions for the products they feel comfortable engaging with.