Selling Tech: Understanding Each Generation’s Decision Process

May 2019

Which content marketing resources by B2Bs selling pricey technology solutions should be available to customers on demand? First, marketers must realize that their target decision-makers still span three generations (Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers)—dominators of the U.S. labor force. Second, marketers must understand buyers’ unique decision-making process based on their generation.

MarketingSherpa reports that Arketi Group recently surveyed managers and executives from telecommunications, technology, education, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, government and business services industries. The survey explored the major information sources that different generations of decision-makers turned to in the decision process (see infographic). 

In the study, Millennials had the highest percentage of decision-makers who self-reported they had budget and/or final sign-off authority, followed by Gen Xers and Boomers.

Millennial’s evaluation process

When it comes to evaluating a costly technology purchase, Millennials reported using all sources of information, but first turned to industry analysts. Surprisingly, information consumption for Millennials was, in comparison to the other groups, lower overall, but Mike Neumeier, principal at Arketi Group, said in the report, “This group has likely had fewer B2B tech buying experiences—good and bad—than others. We would expect Millennials to consume more sources of information over time.”

Gen Xer’s evaluation process

Gen Xers first tapped colleagues and researched vendor websites, but this generation also prefers attending trade shows and conferences for face-to-face interactions. 

Boomer’s evaluation process

Boomers are avid researchers, utilizing a variety of information sources from analysts, websites, vendor comparison charts and case studies, to chatting up coworkers and vendors in face-to-face meetings and live demos.  

All three generations preferred face-to-face communication with the vendor as a deal closer.

Offer quality content marketing

Optimize reach to customers by offering a myriad of high-quality content that contains relevant messaging and guidance for every stage of each generation’s buying process, intended to create a gapless trajectory moving prospects along to “yes.” As we like to say at Twirling Tiger Media, create content with clarity and impact … content you can sink your teeth into.

A Harvard Business Review article noted that B2B customers are overwhelmed by the deluge of information and suite of product options available, and they struggle to make good purchase decisions. The article states it’s key “to deeply understand the customer’s purchase journey; identify the most significant customer challenge at each buying stage; arm salespeople with tools to help overcome each challenge; and trace the customer’s progress so that you can intervene at any moment to keep the process on track.”

Be inclusive

Beyond understanding the various generations of your customers and their buying process, acknowledge the many fringe stakeholders within organizations that you need to influence. Stakeholders with diverse roles have a say in big-ticket technology purchases, so offer content that anticipates answers to their questions too, and in language that resonates with all skill levels. 

Thank you for reading this.

—Maureen Joyce

Need tips on how to effectively talk tech to diverse audiences? Download our free ebook, “5 Ways To Keep Users Tuned In To Your Tech Talk.”