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More Millennials Are Making B2B Purchasing Decisions: What That Means for Your ABM Strategy

Betsy Utley-Marin
March 13, 2024 8 MIN Blog

According to Forrester research, millennial buyers aged 25-44 are increasingly shifting into purchase decision-making roles and are expected to make up three-fourths of business buying teams in 2024. As a result of this shift, marketers and sellers can no longer rely on what has always worked to reach them. The traditional one-size-fits-all approach will increasingly become obsolete as B2B marketing and sales teams must deliver more personalized buying experiences to engage millennial buyers.

What distinguishes millennials buyers from older committee members is their digital nativity. Millennials grew up in an age where the internet and digital platforms were the norm, making them not only more familiar with digital spaces but also more knowledgeable of what is possible within them. Forrester finds that this has shaped their B2B buying behavior and attitudes, making millennials more likely to use digital and self-serve transaction channels than their older counterparts. These younger buyers use a wider variety of sources and find third-party resources more impactful than vendor resources, and prefer self-driven transactions from vendor websites, marketplaces, app stores, or directly from an existing product. 

While these changing buying committee member behaviors are forcing marketers and sales representatives to reevaluate how to engage with and sell to millennial decision-makers, it also provides opportunities to experiment with and adopt new go-to-market strategies. Here’s how to shift your ABM approach. 

Utilize Data-Driven Insights to Understand Buyer Needs and Preferences to Deliver More Personalized Experiences

Personalized experiences make buyers feel seen, appreciated, and understood. By tailoring your content and messaging to align with individual buyer needs, you establish a strong connection that fuels loyalty and accelerates conversion.   

Gaining a better understanding of millennial buyer pain points and concerns to build the level of personalization they crave starts with identifying their personas. While your first-party data provides a small snapshot of account information, it doesn’t always provide a full picture of the account or buyer persona. Alternatively, relying solely on a single source of third-party data (i.e., data that another provider has provided) to determine buyer intent is equally unreliable.  

Multiple B2B brands—possibly even your competitors—often use the same third-party data to identify in-market accounts. This leads to a differentiation problem with everyone reaching out to the same accounts and personas. That’s why the best approach is to combine your first-party data with third-party data to create a more comprehensive view of the buying committee and their roles within the decision-making process. This knowledge helps you prioritize the millennial members within trending accounts and deliver personalized content and messaging tailored to their unique needs and interests. 

Once you have a data-based understanding of the millennial buyer concerns, lean on tools like generative AI (genAI) to build in-depth experiences by creating more personalized content and tailoring it to where they are in the buying journey. Forrester finds that younger buyers are more demanding and forthcoming, with 90% citing dissatisfaction in at least one offering with a vendor compared to 71% of older buyers. While cost is the issue most frequently cited by both younger and older buyers, millennial buyers are more likely to express their disappointment with the buying experience, including competence exhibited during the purchase process and being able to find the information they need quickly and easily.  

Keep in mind that personalization isn’t just about what content you use to engage buyers—it’s also about how you deliver it. Buying committee members progress through the buyer’s journey at different rates. A few members might still be in the awareness stage while everyone else has moved onto the consideration stage. Mapping your content to where individuals are in the buyer’s journey is the most effective way to provide the personalized experience millennials crave and help the entire buying committee get to a unified decision faster.   

Equip Millennial Buyers with the Resources They Need for their Self-Guided Research Through a Multi-Channel Approach 

B2B decision-makers use up to (and sometimes more than) ten channels to interact with brands, which is double the number of channels used five years ago. The growing number of millennial buyers means that you shouldn’t expect them to find you—rather, you need to proactively engage them where they already are.  

While there are similarities in the way B2B buyers of all ages gather information, Forrester research reveals that younger buyers use a wider variety of sources and find third-party resources, including technology information websites, forums/message boards, and industry websites more impactful than vendor resources.  

The trend toward third-party resources is fueling the growth of B2B influencer marketing to capture the attention of younger buyers and drive meaningful engagement. According to a poll conducted by InvespCro, 94% of B2B marketers believe that influencer marketing is an effective strategy. As there’s a growing interest in thought leaders within the B2B marketing space, more influencers down, becoming micro-specialists within their fields. Posts from influencers contribute to brand awareness, positioning the brand as knowledgeable and trustworthy. These posts also help build credibility, as their followers transfer their association and opinions about the influencer to the brand, which will ideally help raise interest in the brand’s product positioning and service offerings. 

One tactic B2B marketers are experimenting with to launch a B2B influencer marketing strategy is by looking at highly active social media users within their organization.   This emphasis in thought leadership from individuals is notably gaining momentum, as LinkedIn offers Thought Leader Ads, allowing companies to promote posts from employees. Boosting an employee’s post has a twofold effect, as it not only gets more impressions for their unique opinion and positioning, but helps to generate brand trust and fuel audiences toward analyzing your brand’s thought leaders against competitors. You can then measure the post’s impressions, engagement, and click-through rate for any links that return to your brand’s website.   

While you can’t control where millennial buyers research and explore solutions, you can surround them with a persistent and cohesive experience across the channels they’re already using to stay top of mind. Consider how each channel fits into your strategy and leverage content and messaging thoughtfully based on the needs of each persona. Implementing a multi-channel ABM strategy is not only about being more present, but also about creating a cohesive and integrated experience that appeals to the millennial buyers’ expectations for authenticity, personalization, and value alignment. Utilizing a variety of channels allows for a more subtle, content-driven approach that’s meant to provide useful, relevant information that resonates more with this demographic. 

Build Trust by Positioning Your Brand as a Strategic Partner and Showcasing Your Industry Expertise  

For millennial buyers, expertise is not just valuable—it’s essential. As younger decision-makers join buying committees with more seasoned members, they need to demonstrate their competence and knowledge. Brands that provide strategic assistance and advice that help these buyers drive their businesses forward will build long-term trust.   

Forrester finds that younger buyers find personal interactions with product experts more meaningful than other in-person activities and will make purchase decisions faster when given the opportunity to speak to experts sooner. While in an ideal world your sales team would be able to leverage product experts in every buyer interaction, the reality is that you can’t spend all your experts’ time talking to customers. Instead, look for patterns in the kinds of questions millennial buyers are asking, and use it to leverage expert opinions and responses in your marketing content. With Forrester predicting that two out of five millennial buyers will demand early access to B2B product experts in 2024, you need to find ways to leverage their knowledge wherever possible.  

You also need to position your salespeople as experts in the field and encourage them to play a more consultative role rather than offering basic product information in their meetings with millennial contacts. With millennials spending so much of the purchasing process conducting their own research, your sales team serves a more valuable role providing expert knowledge to help them make sense of all the third-party information they’ve gathered.  

Continuously Measure the Effectiveness of Your Approach and Optimize Your Strategy as You Go 

The biggest takeaway for reaching millennial buyers? Be flexible with your approach and continuously look for areas that need optimization and improvement. It’s not just about launching initiatives and hoping for the best; it’s about diving deep into the data to understand what resonates with this influential group.  

Given the resource intensity of multi-channel ABM, you can’t afford to run a campaign only to review and measure the results at the end. Purchase decisions are long, and triaging what went wrong at the end means losing out on time, investment, and most likely a sale. You need an agile approach to your ABM that allows for continuous adjustments as the market shifts.  

Find a regular cadence to analyze engagement metrics, conversion rates, and feedback to identify areas for improvement. This process of continual refinement is critical because the preferences and behaviors of millennial buyers evolve at a rapid pace. By staying aware of these shifts and adjusting your strategies accordingly, your marketing efforts remain aligned with the most influential decision-makers in the buying process. 

Paying attention to engagement and pipeline metrics uncovers important campaign optimization opportunities. These insights allow you to understand what content and messaging is (or isn’t) resonating with millennial buyers and how they’re moving through the sales cycle. With a more data-driven approach, you can optimize your ABM strategy and make proactive changes that increase win rates through more relevant and personalized marketing content that meets millennial buyers’ needs and expectations. 

The Millennial Decision-Maker Is Here. Are you Ready? 

In 2019, millennials overtook baby boomers as America’s largest population. As generational shifts in the workplace upend the B2B buying process, success lies in marketers’ ability to shift with the changing landscape. Not understanding what drives millennial buying decisions has the potential to negatively impact your ability to target, engage, and ultimately close the deal. By shifting your approach and using data to understand your millennial buyers’ needs and deliver more relevant experiences, you can build trust that translates into long-term business relationships.  

Want to learn how to activate better campaigns that reach and engage all members of the buying committee? Request a demo to learn how Madison Logic can help.