Digital natives

The pandemic impacted the role of the outside sales rep (See adjusting-to-changes-in-sales-process-relationships) but what about the make-up of their target audience —the B2B customer? Since the early 2020s the profile of the purchasing professional has changed. In the buyer population, Baby Boomers are rapidly being replaced by Millennials, born between 1981 and 1996. Many in this cohort have already joined the management ranks of B2B buyers. Zoomers (or Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012) are also becoming buyers. Selling to this group of digital natives requires new sales strategies.

A preference for digital interactions

Jason Smith and Paul Demery explain in a recent article that “Many millennials and Gen Z buyers are keeping their distance from traditional sales calls, preferring digital self-service…”  A survey of 172 B2B marketers also finds these buyers are showing a strong preference for digital and virtual interactions.

A recent report from Digital Commerce 360 lends further support to the swing toward digital selling. In it MSC Industrial Supply Co. CEO Erik Gershwind relates that the company has been busy improving its entire digital offering. As a result, digital commerce sales increased 17% to $2.28 billion for the fiscal year ending Sept. 3, 2022. By comparison, total sales grew 13.8%.

Today’s purchasing agents use online digital content, blogs, infographics, and videos for making buying decisions. Smith and Demery write that digital content represents 72% of a buyer’s journey. They explain that while in-person events are among the top three strategies, they come in third after online customer case studies and white papers or e-books.

Personalize your research

Today’s sales professionals must be digitally savvy. Growing sales requires a firm understanding of each client’s business and specific customer roles. Use CRMs to conduct thorough customer research and learn the degree of influence your prospect has within the organization. Find out the key factors that shape their pain points then structure your value proposition accordingly. Digitalization enables personalized outreach to clients. Use it to succeed with the new generation of buyers.

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