In 2021, we conducted a nationwide survey exploring styles and preferences when it comes to B2B buying decisions by generation. We analyzed the data for themes and insights to fine tune your style to achieve a more inspired sales experience for the three primary generations making decisions in business.
Boomers at a glance
The most important thing to remember is boomers have high expectations for quality and value, demonstrated through their preference for brand awareness and a longer, relationship-driven sales style.
- 90 percent prefer in-person presentations. More than 80 percent find virtual meetings are acceptable.
- Depending on the importance of the purchase, more than 85 percent prefer live engagement with representatives and their leadership in the sales process.
- About 60 percent use social media consistently.
In addition, boomers are willing to invest time outside work to develop business relationships, and more than 60 percent want guidance and support throughout the sales process. They also lean in on referrals and introductions from other professionals to initiate the sales process. Finally, most boomers don’t trust or respond to sales efforts where impersonal techniques are utilized for initial or subsequent contact.
Gen X at a glance
Gen X’ers don’t like to be “sold.” They prefer to be educated and enlightened about a product or service, then do research and form their own opinions. They are fiercely independent, with an entrepreneurial spirit, and prefer sales on their terms.
- Frequently over 50 percent of the sales decision is determined prior to engaging in face-to-face meetings.
- They can be seen as skeptical and prefer fact-based information about the offer. They may disqualify those whom they feel are using a disingenuous salesy approach in the process.
- Live demonstrations and presentations are preferred by 82 percent, in person or virtually.
In addition, Gen X’ers prefer to partner with companies that share their desire to disrupt the status quo and make organizations better. In addition, they are champions of small businesses and entrepreneurship.
Millennials at a glance
Millennials prefer a quick and efficient sales process, which requires information-focused content. They enjoy self-service models and are more likely to value post-sale follow-ups done in a tech-savvy fashion.
- Millennials trust social media content and search engine results. Online reviews develop trust for a product.
- They prefer less frequent, quality communication and email.
- Millennials are more likely to be invested in companies that demonstrate a culture that is prepared to deliver fast results, in a socially responsible manner.
In addition, 75 percent said in-person meetings (live or virtual) were the No. 1 way to build trust. When conducting business, 67 percent listed video meetings as a great way to create momentum in the sales process. In addition, 75 percent agreed that slow responses to inquiries would hinder their purchase.
In the end, all generations have a compelling need to be heard and understood, valued and respected, and meaningfully involved in decisions that impact their life and their work. Happy selling.
Judy Bodenhamer is managing director & founder of Client Experience Group