​B2B Marketing: How to Win Over Millennials

Richard Parker  |


Millennials won’t turn down the deals if you use marketing and content to your advantage.

It’s safe to say that marketing to millennials is still sparking interest worldwide. Books have been written about it, and there are even many posts and articles available online that talk about this particular topic. But, why is this topic popular? Why are millennials a good target audience for marketing? Let’s find out.

Who are millennials?

In the US, millennials are a demographic group that consists of about 80 million people - 25% of the entire US population.

Furthermore, in the UK, the total population includes 21% of millennials; in other words, young folk who were born somewhere between 1982 and 1999.

But, why is this important? Well, as you can see, millennials are a large demographic group. Thus, traditional marketing strategies have to adjust to that group’s mindset and preferences in order to make sales. So, it’s no wonder marketing has been evolving for quite some time now.

However, most articles that talk about how to market to millennials seem to be more oriented towards B2C than B2B. This is not very useful to you if you are looking for a way to use B2B marketing to your advantage. Therefore, we’re here to help you understand how to market to millennials without compromising your business.

Sales vs Marketing: The Main Difference

If you want to get better at marketing things to millennials, the first thing you need to understand is that marketing and sales are not the same things. There is a fine line between them that is often blurred, but if you know how each of these function, you won’t confuse them anymore.

Marketing is often content-driven, as it requires the business to interact with a lot of people on a daily basis. In contrast to that, sales are human-driven because they call for interaction between at least two people. Thus, sales often lead to problem-solving dialogues and consultations.

As you can see, these two terms are behind two different processes. The people who work in marketing need to have a different set of skills than those in sales. However, they ought to work together to make the most of their strategies.

The Consumer’s Decision Journey

Both marketing and sales have to use different processes and strategies to help the buyers reach their decisions. But, what connects them is the Consumer’s Decision Journey.

This journey has five essential steps:

  • Recognizing the need. The buyer realises that they have a problem which ought to be fixed.
  • Searching for information. The buyer looks for alternatives.
  • Evaluating the alternatives. The buyer knows what they want and what they don’t want - they develop preferences.
  • Making a purchasing decision. The buyer selects a vendor and turns into a customer.
  • Post-purchase. Your business has to nurture customer loyalty and make sure that the customer comes back for a potential upsell. Customer value is the most important factor in this phase.

A smooth transition

While the journey is underway, it’s vital to develop a foolproof plan that will allow the sales team to smoothly take over from the marketing team.

However, most companies tend to develop sales and marketing strategies in isolation, forgetting that the two often overlap, especially when there are prospects. So, a company should clearly identify when and how potential customers are transferred between these two departments (from marketing to sales). Furthermore, the company should know how potential customers are transferred back to marketing if they’re not ready to commit.

Those random phrases and words aren’t that random

“Word salad” might be something sales professionals would use to explain seemingly random phrases and words, for example, MQLs and SQLs. But, it doesn’t hurt to know what they mean and the difference between them.

MQL - Marketing Qualified Leads

These are leads that have shown some interest, which in turn tells the marketing that they are good leads.

SAL - Sales Accepted Leads

Once the MQL has been reviewed and transferred to the sales team, it becomes a SAL. It waits for approval by the sales team.

SQL - Sales Qualified Leads

These leads have shown an intent to make a purchase, which makes them sufficiently qualified for becoming an Opportunity. That opportunity can either end with a win or a loss.

So, what’s the difference? SQLs are ready to buy, while MQLs are not.

The point of marketing is to create a content plan that has one single purpose: to educate potential buyers. It will show them why they need something in their life, and by the end of that marketing process, they can be safely moved to sales.

But, timing is crucial. It’s important that the salespeople don’t spend a lot of time working on prospects that are just not that close to reaching a decision.

The importance of a content plan

In order to perfect the timing of the transfer from marketing to sales, the content plan should be in sync with the consumer’s decision journey. The point of it is to have a plan of action for engaging prospects while they’re conducting their initial research and to show how you’ll become one of the alternatives they’ll have to consider. It will also serve as a way to show how you’ll earn a spot on their list of product preferences.

So, it’s quite easy. If you create content bit by bit, focusing on a specific purpose for each stage of the journey, the whole process of moving the prospect from marketing to sales will be a lot easier.

Content with a purpose

Every piece of content has a specific purpose. For example, sometimes the goal is to make people visit your website. The target doesn’t have to be a purchase. However, all parts of the content have to form a coherent plan that will guide potential customers through their decision-making journey.

Thus, your content plan ought to be dynamic. After all, like the sales process, this content plan is also a process. So, it should be synchronised, refined and optimised whenever there’s new information - and you would do that with the sales process as well.

If the content plan is excellent, then potential customers will recognise you as trustworthy. This will also give the buyers a feeling that they will be valued if they become your customers.

How to score leads

In order to carry out their content plans, many companies choose marketing automation platforms. These systems use a lead scoring index that tells exactly how much the potential customer is interested. Thus, the index allows you to value each prospect according to their behaviour.

For example, you can use information such as how long they were on your website, how many white papers they downloaded and if they’ve seen or participated in some of your webinars.

The point of this is to determine when the lead is ready to be transferred to the sales team. Without knowing this information, it would be difficult to alert the marketing team on time, and the sales reps might start calling on leads who are not ready to make a purchase. Furthermore, this data also stops the sales team from missing opportunities (calling the lead far too late in the process).

Nevertheless, there are specific ways in which marketing can help you boost sales and become successful. Let’s discuss what they are.

How marketing can help you close a deal

Undeniable Prowess

The marketing and the product teams have a perspective that can help you advance a sale faster than usual. The marketing team understands the technology, the service or the product better than the sales team, and they know how one specific product will fit within the industry. Furthermore, they know how that product compares to other market alternatives.

Sales Efficiency

When the content plan revolves around the consumer’s decision journey, the drip campaigns help the potentials advance further in the decision-making process. This part is especially important because the sales team can then focus on the right potentials at the right moment.

Credibility

Endless case studies, as well as competitive and ROI analyses, are not pointless. They serve as marketing collateral that will give the buyers the comfort they require to make a decision. Those materials will play with their emotions and back up their potential purchase with data. Thus, this collateral is a must-have in the sales process.

Competitive Intelligence

During a sales conversation, the potential customer usually wants to know what sets your company apart from the others. That is a crucial part of the content plan, which is why the marketing team is keeping a close eye on your competitive positioning. Once something changes, they’ll let the sales team know so that they can adjust their pitch to the new competitive changes. Thus, the sales department is always aware of what’s going on in the market. This is because the marketing team is making sure they keep up with the changes and events.

Urgency

If the buyer doesn’t feel the urgency, the sales team might stall the process. A weak sense of urgency can point to an error in the discovery phase. However, the marking team can create a sense of urgency with limited-time offers. This way, they can boost the buyer’s decision-making process and help him cross the finish line. But, for that to happen and to make a profit, the marketing and the sales teams need to be in sync.

So, how can a B2B company market to millennials?

If you have a B2B company that could use a few millennial customers, be prepared to engage them correctly. You have to understand where they fit in the consumer’s decision journey and how you can help them reach the right decision.

Now, most articles say that Facebook, YouTube and other platforms are the way to go if you want millennials on your side. However, those might be better for a B2C company. When it comes to B2B, those are not strategies - just tactical choices.

Yes, millennials are tech-savvy since they grew up during a digital revolution. But, they are the same as other people: they also have a decision-making process. They want to research things and reach the right decision. And it still works marketing in a direct approach, perhaps using a good old promotional product to lure them in.

So, the correct B2B marketing framework is quite obvious, actually:

  • Focus on the specific stages of the consumer’s decision journey and create a content plan around them.
  • Make sure that the transfer from marketing to sales is as smooth as possible
  • Focus on the wants of the potential customer and base the sales conversation on those objectives.

Anything beyond these steps is considered a tactic, not a strategy.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not represent the views of equities.com. Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to: http://www.equities.com/disclaimer

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