Channeling My Inner Millennial

As a very late Boomer or — as The New York Times columnist Richard Pérez-Peña likes to call us — a Boomer reboot, I find that I have Millennials on my mind all the time! I’m not on social networks for 3 hours a day; I’m just an avid user. I sleep with my smart phone on my bedside table, and I’m a pretty good multitasker. I work with a group of phenomenal Millennials at Forrester, and I now clock more than a year in terms of researching, writing, and speaking about Millennials in the workplace. As I think about our team of researchers, I’m reminded of a Forbes quote of the day that Caroline Robertson shared with me recently: “If you put Boomers and Millennials together in the same place and with the right setting and conditions, it’s amazing how they spark each other.” I wholeheartedly agree.

Check out our most recent report, “Millennial B2B Buyers Come of Age,” and see if you agree. Shanta Samlal-Fadelle and I coauthored this report, which looks at the impact that the heads-down generation is having on purchasing decisions for their firms. Although 73% of Millennials in B2B organizations tell us that they have involvement as influencers or decision makers, our research shows that B2B marketing and sales leaders are not paying enough attention to this increasingly present and influential constituency. In the report, you’ll hear directly from Millennials regarding their engagement and channel preferences, while Shanta and I provide actionable advice on how to fine-tune your approach to attract, rather than repel, Millennial buyers.

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B2B Buyers Make The Case For Better Marketing And Sales Alignment

 

Are your marketing and sales teams caught in that endless loop of finger pointing? B2B sellers who complain about lead quality/quantity and marketers who criticize sellers for poor follow up? After years of acknowledging their issues with each other, many B2B marketing and sales teams continue to be at odds. Just “google” marketing and sales relationships and see what you find. I did and I surfaced 98 million results! Titles such as: “The Rocky Road Between Sales and Marketing” and “How to Survive a Soured Sales and Marketing Relationship” show the dissonance and drama still very much in play.

Five years into the age of the customer and the modern B2B buyer has high expectations. They’re more knowledgeable, independent and self-directed than ever. They no longer rely on your sales people for product, pricing and other information. And they don’t want to be told what they already know. As I explore in our recently published report, B2B Buyers Mandate A New Charter For Marketing And Sales, the empowered B2B buyer is neither concerned with how your organization is structured and who’s responsible for the content on your website, nor are they interested in talking to a sales rep simply because they downloaded a white paper. Your buyers want contextual interactions with both human and digital assets across a holistic but non-linear journey. And, by in large, they want their experiences with sales people to be high value or frictionless. Think of a 2 or 5-star hotel experience – each has its merits - but 3 and 4-star hotels often disappoint.

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Do Millennials Lack Grit?

In a recent blog post, "Why Millennials Struggle For Success", well known psychologist, author and MacArthur Fellow Angela Duckworth, explores the question many experienced business leaders and managers ask as well: What’s wrong with Millennials? Why do they keep changing jobs? Why do they complain when work needs to be taken home over the weekend? And so on. She asks if it’s because they don’t have enough grit. Duckworth believes the secret to outstanding success is not talent but rather a special blend of passion and persistence called grit. Duckworth developed a Grit Scale and now has scores from thousands of Americans where her data reveal that grit and age go hand and hand.

So what do we do with those Millennials? Today, Millennials make up one third of the workforce and in four years time they will be half. With the average age of the US B2B sales rep at 40 years old, millennial sellers are, or soon will be, the future revenue generators and business leaders for their firms. Smart sales and marketing leaders realize that status quo communication, management approaches and tools will fail to inspire, and are adapting their enablement strategies and tech stacks to resonate with this important group of employees.

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Millennials Arrive In Force!

We’ve been hearing so much lately about the changing dynamics between B2B buyers and sellers. Not only are buyers engaging more and more online as part of their evaluation and purchase process, but sellers have the ability to track prospects’ behaviors and interests in order to contextualize their outreach as well. There is another exciting transformation underway...the arrival of the Millennials in force!
 
Today, Millennials make up a third of the workforce; by 2020, they will be half. This generation of employees may work more to your advantage than you think. Born in the digital age to tech-savvy parents, Millennials have experienced everything from the pseudo Y2K crisis to the 2008 downturn to the social media explosion in the mid-2000s. They don’t quite function or react in the workplace like Boomers and Gen Xers, and they have different needs. But, there’s an upside and a divergent side to be considered with them.
 
Not having the right tools or enforcing restrictive schedules can work against sales and marketing leaders…and don’t forget to give and take feedback at each step of the way. And what about the rest of your sales team? Is it possible for Millennials and more tenured reps to work synergistically? You bet! Make sure you encourage collaboration through reverse mentorship and in-tune management approaches, and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The right tools and technologies are only the tip of the iceberg in thinking about how you can support your sales force both today and in the future. 
 
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Change Is Afoot For The Modern B2B Seller

Everybody is telling us this: Today's modern B2B buyer is soooo empowered! Well, that’s because they can use digital and mobile channels to get access to competitive, pricing, reference and other information they need. Not only that, they even prefer to transact anywhere, anytime, and anyhow they want. So, the pressure is on for sales people to raise their game. Those who can only communicate in terms of product and service capabilities will see their messages fall flat.

Go-to-market leaders that fail to empower their sellers will see their selling organizations commoditized by those that do and their businesses surpassed by disrupters. While change is clearly afoot - I can’t think of a more exciting time to be in Sales! B2B sellers who embrace change, who are adroit at leveraging new technologies to support more contextual engagements, and who seek out less cluttered channels such as social - will not only remain relevant but will be wildly successful!

To hear and see more, watch the below Animated Interview And Podcast with Chad Quinn, President and Founder of Ecosystems.