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Millennials in the workforce – They’re Heeeeeerrrre!

The Millennial Generation – aka “Gen Y” – are people who were born between 1982 – 2001. There are 79 million Millennials in the United States. The oldest of this generation are thirty-three years old this year and they are now the majority of today’s professional workforce (35%). If you aren’t ready for the changes Millennials will bring to your business, you’d better get going.
Millennials are the first “native” technology user generation. Unlike Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964) and Gen Xers (born 1965 – 1981), Millennials have never known a world without the internet. The toys in the cribs of Gen Y had higher performance microprocessors operating them than was used by NASA to operate the Lunar Rover (the unmanned vehicle used to explore the surface of the moon). Millennials don’t just “get” technology; technology is in their DNA.

As with all generations, technology has shaped the way in which Millennials think, communicate, study and behave. As the first “technical natives,” Millennial in the workforce use technology as the core means of communication, and they don’t distinguish between “personal” use of technology and “work” use of technology. For Gen Y’s, it’s all personal – it just may happen to involve discovering something they need to know related to their “day job.” Whether it is texting their peers, searching the web, or checking with their social network, Millennial “workers” expect immediate and ubiquitous connection.

If you are a B2B marketer, you know that your business buyers are now mostly Millennials.

As the youngest population in today’s workforce, most of the research assignments are being done by Millennials. The decision makers may still be Baby Boomers or Gen Xers, but the investigation and business cases are being done by Gen Y. And how do these knowledge workers find out about your business? That’s right – via technology: web search, YouTube, social media, their Millennial friends. And, they are doing this research way before you ever know they are doing it.

Unless you have been under a rock for the past five years, you know that B2B buyers are waiting longer and longer before they contact potential vendors. Have you stopped to think about why this is? Because they can. Prospective buyers no longer need to contact you to find out what you offer and why you think your products and services are unique. Now, consider this clear trend against the context of the changing workforce. Millennials are doing the research and putting together the recommendations. They use smartphones and tablets to identify the best solutions, not telephone calls with the prospective vendors. They use their social network to get recommendations and referrals. When they are ready to contact you, they will find you. And when they do, these Gen Yers will know more about their options than you will. 

So, if you aren’t by now, get ready for the Millennials.  Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Millennials don’t think of personal and work as two distinct activities. They blend them. That’s a big reason why YouTube has become the second largest search platform for businesses.
  • Millennials expect to learn about your products and services without having to contact you. What previous generations thought of as “advanced” research, Millennials consider basic. Hint: If they have to contact you to learn about your offerings, you’ve already lost them.
  • Want to get on the Millennial radar screen? Go where they are: social media.
  • To reach them, entertain them and make it easy for these tech-savvy buyers. Long, verbose whitepapers and case studies gated behind web registration forms? Are you kidding?! Try videos on YouTube that link to your website.
  • Since Millennials don’t feel the need to contact your sales reps, invest in technology that will enable you and your reps to identify them. It isn’t that Millennials don’t want to talk to you – in fact, Millennials constantly communicate! But, you need to become part of their conversation and stop trying to make them part of yours.