Brands often put a considerable amount of energy into how to get more juice out of relationships with key decision makers in B2B organizations. They look at relationship quality, who listens to their influence, the chain of command required for a purchase decision and more, with one exception—the age of the decision maker.

No more.

Then, empower younger generation team members to contribute ideas that directly influence what, and how, organizations close deals. For that to play out successfully, young decision makers need a supportive team environment where their opinion is heard and appreciated, so they can successfully rally people in their circle of influence to get on board with their ideas.

This way of thinking is definitely a culture adjustment from the status quo and chain of command common at many large organizations. Age usually commands a level of built-in authority, even if the younger party has more experience.

It’s also a wake-up call for brands to start asking, “Why aren’t we hiring qualified people willing to challenge each other and get through to the customers beyond the low hanging fruit?” In other words, what are we doing to attract and sell to customers who are true advocates and mobilizers within their organization?

Take the core principle of the recent book, The Challenger Customer: Selling to the Hidden Influencer Who Can Multiply Your Results.

The Challenger Customer talks about the tools brands can use to separate “Talkers” from “Mobilizers,” and it offers ways to find each personality type within an organization. The book is designed to help members of a B2B effectively challenge their own organization and outdated decision-making policies, including the role young decision makers can play in the process.

With a fresh, new line of B2B stakeholders within organizations gaining influence or stepping into purchasing roles, it’s time to rethink how—and with whom—you’re building long-term connections as a brand.

Engage Young Decision Makers in Ways that Matter to Them

To truly engage young decision makers—and build a quality relationship with them—put yourself into their perspective and level of experience.

Many young decision makers don’t remember what it’s like to live and work without technology as a trusty tool by their side. They naturally have more tech-savvy—and confidence in using it—to research and make purchase decisions differently.

It’s also important to look at both sides of the young decision maker dynamic. They’re new and want to prove themselves in their role, while you as a brand want to build a connection that leads to a sale and something even more valuable, social influence.

Young decision makers not only crowdsource purchase decisions, they also use social influence to recommend and refer businesses to each other. In this way, a brand can gain social clout via an objective third party and potential new clients, while a young decision maker acts as a successful mobilizer inside—and outside—the organization. It’s a win-win.

Tactics to Connect with Young Decision Makers

Time to refresh marketing tactics to engage with young decision makers! Some tips:

1. Generate Buyer Personas Based on Age and Influence 

If you haven’t already created buyer personas, get started! Buyer personas are essential for painting a clear detailed picture of a potential buyer and help build connections that count by drilling down to the age of the executive, thier position, and their sphere of influence within an organization.

In an organization that’s still fairly traditional, connecting with a young professional who’s hungry to prove themselves can be a great opportunity. Having a clear picture of who will be most responsive to tactics based on personal preference helps diversify marketing strategy enough to hit on a little something for every persona.

If the brand happens to be built and run by young professionals, buyer personas can be a key element in crafting a marketing strategy that’s on point and stands out from competitors who just use the same old, stale marketing approach.

2. Create Consistent, Directed, Video-Based Marketing Content, Not Ads

In-your-face advertising is everywhere—and does not work in connecting with young decision makers. Oh, and don’t forget—ad blocker anyone?

This target market is seasoned at dodging and blocking things that seem market-y or like ads. They prefer to build a personal relationship with other professionals to make real meaning and impact through their position. Quality video content also offers a way for them to share influence and what they’ve learned with their peers via social networks—while building social traction for you at the same time.

Use YouTube and Instagram to distribute your videos. Look into partnering with an influencer on these platforms who may draw in young professionals. Connect with influencers who already have a following and who pair nicely with your target market. Find ways to collaborate, perhaps at an in-person event or through a video series. The more you can effortlessly share the power of your product or service in ways that emphasize benefits, paired with proof, the more likely young professionals will bring you along for the ride as they grow in their careers.

3. Review Messaging and Delivery Channels

Look for ways to enhance online, email, text, or messaging interactions to communicate more effectively And honor the 24-hour-a-day sales cycle. Young professionals do a lot of research on their own, so they’re further along in the buying process than other generations who want personal relationship building and research-based proof.

4. Make the Buyer’s Journey More Flexible

Loosen up the standard linear style sales pipeline process (prospect, qualify, educate), and embrace how young decision makers approach the purchase process.Their source of research is a combination of content from social networks, videos, and blogs, which means brands need diverse content that attracts and then converts in these places. It also means a potential sales contact may jump right from education to the purchase step.

Focus on new ways to create seamless digital experiences, like Uber or Amazon, that are as easy to manage by mobile devices or a desktop, and support bridging personal purchase behaviors naturally into the workplace. As a bonus, offer a simple way to share social proof using an app or online rewards.

5. Create Website Content That Is Proof-Worthy

Once a young decision maker is ready to move forward, they’re going to look for brand-based social proof.

Add user-generated content in the form of customer success stories, testimonials, or videos to your web presence. But be sure they include images of real customers with proven results. Remember, social proof goes both ways. Young professionals feel compelled to provide company feedback on good or bad experiences after a purchase as a way to connect socially and as a responsibility to their peers.

Young professionals are in a unique position to guide a brand into the future as leaders who already know what they want, and the easiest, most effective ways to get it. Instead of focusing on price as a differentiator, their focus is on the value-add and long-term benefits for the team, community, peers, and ultimately, their career path. Create content that shows your brand shares these values and offer simple, easy ways for young professionals to mobilize their teams to get on board with your brand.

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Katrina Pfannkuch

About Katrina Pfannkuch

Katrina Pfannkuch is a creativity consultant specializing in writing, editing, strategy & coaching. She's a bit of a data nerd & loves seeing how pieces of the informational puzzle come together to paint a creative picture. Catch Katrina & her insights on kick-starting creativity at @creativekatrina on Twitter.