While the people empowered to sign off on final decisions about which software or service to buy are generally older than 35 years of age, the employees who begin to assemble the list of products for them to consider are typically younger, reported Clutch, a ratings and review platform for IT, marketing and business service providers.
Citing data from a recent survey of 451 employees who were involved with hiring a business services provider or investing in software in the past 12 months, the company said that younger employees are more involved at the beginning of the B2B buying process. During these stages, businesses’ actions reflect younger generations’ preferences for collaboration and using digital resources to inform purchasing decisions.
Key findings are that at more than half (57%) of businesses, employees under 35 years of age are responsible for researching and evaluating software: 42% of the respondents task junior staffers with researching and evaluating business services.
The people responsible for signing off on final agreements with business service providers tend to be older, noted Clutch, reporting that, 86% of decision makers are 35 years of age or older.
Marketers should keep in mind that these older decision makers are likely to be digitally aware too. By the time the youngest of the pre-millennial cohort started working – around 2002 – BlackBerry had been operating for more than 20 years. When Apple introduced the iPhone just a few years later, it took the company only 74 days to sell the first million units.
The reliance on more digitally-oriented employees to research products is extending beyond the market for IT solutions and services. Sara Noel Block, digital marketing manager at Chicago Faucet Company, told CMR that entry to mid-level staff are being tasked with narrowing down product lists before they hand them over to more senior staff.
Block, who joined the supplier of commercial plumbing products last Spring as its first digital marketing manager, explained that more architects, specifying engineers, and designers go to Google to find a preliminary list of solutions, products, or services. From there, they navigate to appropriate websites for more information and spec sheets.
“A lot of the people that are doing the preliminary research right now are newer to the job,” she said.
To effectively engage Millennial shoppers, marketers will need to readjust their messages and the materials they use to communicate them. Heather K. Margolis CEO of Channel Maven, a digital agency, pointed to an Entrepreneur article that noted “Because millennials have grown up in a more connected digital world than other generations, this sense of connection permeates everything they do.”
The majority of the online media they consumer is created by their peers, in the form of YouTube videos, Facebook and Twitter posts, Snapchat feeds and Instagram, the article continued. Enabling marketers at partner companies to embed personalized messages into video assets will help to build stronger relationships with viewing buyers, Margolis said. She recently launched a new company, Spark Your Channel, to facilitate a marketer’s ability to wrap customer-directed messages around existing videos.
Almost half of the respondent to the Clutch survey (49%) said four or more people are involved in researching business services providers; 41% said the same for software purchases. But it’s not uncommon for the ultimate purchasing decisions to be made by one person for services (30%) and software (37%).