We recently came across a fascinating survey conducted by UPS (United Parcel Service), aimed at industrial buyers across a wide variety of fields and age groups. In particular, this was one of the first surveys we’ve seen which specifically incorporated a large number of Millennials involved in the purchase of industrial products. It confirms many of the trends we’ve seen in other places, regarding how Millennials are shifting buyer purchasing habits, while adding more information as to their preferences.
With Millennials now firmly part of the business workspace, they are quickly becoming drivers of industry. Understanding how their preferences differ from previous generations will be vital, if your sales ecosystem is to keep up with their purchasing habits.
Face time or online? It depends.
There’s a growing stereotype of Millennials as being Internet-addicted to the point of actively avoiding human contact, and it’s important to remember that this isn’t really the case. For the most part, Millennials are simply seeking ease and convenience – and online processes are very often convenient. This is a generation which has fully embraced the ethos of “work smarter, not harder.”
However, if working smarter means dealing with people in-person, they will. One of the more surprising findings of the survey is that Millennials are actually more likely to do big deals in-person at a suppliers’ location, compared to older respondents. But, yes, they’re also more likely to do deals online as well.
This actually dovetails with the widespread observation that Millennials dislike phone calls. While the UPS study didn’t touch on that aspect specifically, we suggest that you should try to minimize use of voice calls with Millennials unless they initiate the call. Overall, they’d rather either go online (maximum convenience), or talk in-person (maximum productivity).
Millennials prefer working with manufacturers directly.
There isn’t a huge shift in the numbers here, but it is noteworthy if you’re running an indirect sale ecosystem. Broadly speaking, Millennials prefer to go directly to the source. 38% of Millennial industrial purchases are made directly from the manufacturer, vs 32% from distributors. This is in contrast to Xers and Boomers, who both make a plurality of their purchases from distributors.
In our view, the key here for indirect sales ecosystems is to sell Millennials on the benefits of working with distributors. “Cutting out the middle-man” isn’t necessarily a good thing, particularly when that middle-man can offer faster response times, customized services, and information that’s relevant to a Millennial’s local area. Convey those benefits, and they should be more open to working with distributors.
Still, this trend definitely bears watching. Further shifts away from distributors among the younger buyers could mean major shakeups for indirect sale operations.
Streamline Your Sales Ecosystem
One thing Millennials definitely want from their business contacts is efficiency, and the ability to provide information quickly. The LogicBay Methodology makes this possible! Through a combination of all-in-one software solutions and simple data sharing, you can make it far easier for your distributors to get the information they need, or even contact you directly for tricky problems. Contact us to upgrade your ecosystem!