A funny thing happened as B2Cs were trying to figure out how to best sell to Millennials: Those very same Millennials who we were targeting as consumers started to take leadership positions at their employers. Now it’s B2B’s turn to find the best ways to sell to Millennials.

To successfully relate to and sell to Millennials in management positions, you need to consider three important areas:

  • Attitude
  • Values
  • Communication styles


The “corner office” hierarchal mentality is contrary to the way many Millennials think. The corner office has been replaced by the open office. There is a certain democratization – or at least the perception of democratization – that is becoming important in management today.

There’s another quality that is crucial to couple to this, and that is the importance of relationships to Millennials. Let me illustrate this with an example.

A friend of mine worked in a Silicon Valley startup many years ago where everybody pitched in where they could, crossing department lines, and doing whatever was necessary to move the company forward. Soon they had a major opportunity with IBM and found themselves meeting with IBM management in Binghamton, New York. There was significant culture shock on both sides and frankly, the Silicon Valley upstarts didn’t speak the same language as the Big Blue “suits.”

If your company leans heavily to the top-down management style, you risk suffering these types of problems. It will be hard to develop the relationships necessary to nurture long-term B2B success with Millennial management if you’re too “old school.”


The desire of Millennials to make the world a better place is well known and has played a major role in the consumer realm. However, don’t think that it won’t also be important in B2B commerce.

In fact, it might be even more important because in B2B relationships companies are really striking a kind of partnership with one another. I don’t think that a company where the management structure has been flattened and where Millennials are assuming important leadership roles will want to partner with companies that don’t exhibit a tangible dedication to making improvements in areas such as the environment and social justice.

This desire to improve conditions can also be used to “turbo charge” relationship building; why not partner with a neighboring company to do a local improvement project? Nothing builds relationships faster than working side-by-side.

Communication styles

Millennials and the follow-on Generation Z are the first fully digital groups to hit the consumer market and workforce. As such, they have cultivated a taste for gathering information via digital channels. This stretches from “traditional” blogs to the latest mobile apps. Further, they like to do the research themselves…or at least the initial research. The first touch point for Millennial buyers is a search engine.

However, it doesn’t stop there. You can expect Millennials to also seek your Facebook page, see if you have a YouTube channel, and probably look you up on LinkedIn. The bottom line for this is that Millennials are the driving force behind the boom in content marketing.

Only after they feel they have a handle on what they want and what you provide will they begin to go through more traditional channels for information. If you fail to provide sufficient information via these digital channels, they will not be able to build the foundation they need to push their interest in your product or service to the next level.

With these principles in mind, is your B2B company evolving to meet the needs of Millennials in management, or do you have some work to do?