How B2B Buyers are Changing and What You Should Do About It

At the beginning of each year, before you set the new strategy or approve the new budget, there is one exercise that is worth gathering all the internal stakeholders for. There are many companies who have never done this work before and they suffer because of it. The best marketers do it at least once a year and prior to any major product launch or new announcement. It’s a persona exercise.

At Slice, it’s the first thing we do when we onboard any new client. While every company has its own set of questions (feel free to email me for ours), HubSpot has a solid starter template you can download and use if you’ve never done one before or yours needs to be refreshed.

In 2017, most B2B companies should be re-thinking their personas for one important reason: 46 percent of B2B researchers are millennials.

So what is a researcher and why does that group matter? According to a Google/Millward Brown Digital study released in 2015, they are the people responsible for finding your products and services, vetting them, and making recommendations to decision-makers — and they have tremendous influence in many purchasing decisions.

So here’s the first point – if you don’t have a researcher as one of your personas, you will never market to them and you will never get in front of their decision maker.

Now that we have that established, let’s look at how these millennial B2B researchers are looking for your company. According to the same Google study, 71 percent of B2B buyers start with a generic search for a product or service in a search engine. That’s important and your SEO professional should already have that under control. The more surprising stat for many is that 75 percent of B2B buyers use social media during their purchasing process according to a study by IDC. Furthermore, 84 percent of C-level executives and VPs use it to make decisions.

LinkedIn is one of the primary channels, but as you can see from this study by CallidusCloud, it’s not the only one.

So, here’s the bottom line: B2B researchers and influencers are getting younger and they are using social media to research, vet, and select your products and services before a salesperson ever talks to them. They have plenty of influence and they are guiding decision-makers in the C-suite to take the same approach. If there is one deep conversation you should have this year about your targeted audiences, it should be this one.