Meet your new client – the Millennial decision makers

A lot has been written about the Millennial consumer, but not so much about the influence Millennials are having on their company’s business-to-business (B2B) purchasing decisions.  There’s also a lot of hype about who Millennials are and what they want, making it hard to separate fact from fiction. How are Millennials’ preferences impacting b2b marketing and vendor/client relationships?

So, IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV) decided to conduct a data-driven study to better understand how Millennials’ consumer habits are bleeding into the workplace. As a global research leader with the IBV, I had the pleasure of directing this study, and on a recent THINK Leaders Future Proof Webinar Series, I presented some of the surprising highlights from our report.

First, a bit about our methodology. This is a global, multigenerational study. Survey respondents were Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomer professionals from companies large and small across multiple geographies and industries. We looked at how each generation responded to a series of questions that focused on key phases of a b2b purchasing journey.

We found that Millennials, especially, prioritize the experience they have with a partner or vendor. Based on numerous reports about Millennial consumers, we know they have high expectations for their own customer experiences. Our findings show they are bringing that same expectation to the workplace. As clients, they prize convenience and collaboration even more than a vendor’s reputation or their use of the latest technologies. For Millennials, it is all about doing business on their terms, and that includes replacing most face-to-face meetings with virtual communications during the sales cycle.

At age 35, the oldest Millennials have been in the workforce ten years, and many of them have positions where they are the primary decision makers or behind the scenes wielding significant influence. The key takeaway from the study is this: For those b2b leaders who thought customer experience was mostly a concern for consumer-focused companies – they should think again.

There are numerous other insights in the report, with implications and recommendations for b2b marketers and vendors. I encourage you to download your copy of To buy or not to buy: How Millennials are reshaping B2B marketing. You can also access a second report from our Millennial study: Myths, exaggerations and uncomfortable truths –The real story behind Millennials in the workplace. If you would like to hear a replay for the webinar, you can view the below video:

If you just want to have a listen to our lively Q&A session check out the THINK Leaders podcast:

Global Research Leader - Customer Experience & Design, IBM Institute for Business Value

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