April 2024
How Four Generations of B2B Buyers Purchase Technology

How Four Generations of B2B Buyers Purchase Technology

Marketers know to tailor their communications and campaigns for the right audience – but do they know how to tailor them for the right generation?

Reaching and engaging B2B technology buyers is a multi-faceted challenge. There are usually several stakeholders influencing the decision, an ever-growing number of channels to consider, and multiple paths to purchase for buyers to follow.

That’s why we surveyed four generations of B2B technology buyers – Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, and Baby Boomers – about their buying habits, preferences, and what resources they turn to in each phase of the sales funnel, from top to bottom.

The research offers a fresh look at how each generation goes about making a B2B technology purchase. Below are our top takeaways to help you strengthen your marcom strategy and reach those who matter most: buyers who write checks.


We recently built an interactive tool that lets you visualize how each generation of B2B tech buyers’ preferences evolve as they move through the funnel. Explore the data and drill down to identify the most effective tools, tactics, and channels.

Buyers’ North Star

The standout resource for all generations of B2B buyers is the buyers’ guide. In fact, the tool ranked among each generation’s top three resources at every stage of the sales funnel.

Whether presented as a checklist, instruction manual, report, or otherwise, these guides help buyers jumpstart their search and cross-reference critical needs throughout the buying journey. Maybe it’s time to refresh yours?

Don’t call me, I’ll call you

When it comes to interacting with a vendor – phone calls, texts, live chats, face-to-face meetings, and so on – the generations differed, perhaps predictably, in their preferences.

But all agreed that direct vendor interaction is welcome only late in the buying journey. All generations prefer to window shop on a vendor’s website and consume valuable content first.

You can never have too much marketing

Our study asked buyers to consider 45 different resources and select their preferred sources of information at the top, middle, and bottom of the sales funnel. A handful dominate, but every generation uses every resource in at least one stage of the funnel. It goes to show that in marketing, as in life, variety is the spice!

Content with a view

Even accounting for individual preferences, our research uncovered a surprising lack of engagement with whitepapers, infographics, newsletters, podcasts, and webinars.

The two resources that did make the cut? Blogs and ebooks. We attribute this to the shorter format and buyers’ instinct to seek out content with perspective – i.e., no fluff. It may be time to scale back on that 50+ page whitepaper.

Social takes a punch

No social platform ranked among any generation’s top three information sources – or even in any of their top 10. The closest contender was Gen Z’s bottom-of-the-funnel use of Reddit, which is arguably more of a forum anyway. Overall, it seems social media leaves B2B buyers uninfluenced. Sellers are better off putting social media to use for brand building and awareness.

Skip the bits and bytes

As ever, benefits and outcomes trump specs and features. Buyers want to know your technology can solve whatever challenge they face, and case studies are a powerful way to demonstrate that value.

In fact, case studies and customer testimonials ranked as the top resource utilized at the end of the buyer’s journey, with colleagues, and buyer’s guides close behind.

Who signs the check?

Our research indicates Millennials are at the helm of today’s B2B buying process. More than half of those surveyed say they are the decision-maker for high-ticket technology purchases, while a further one-third influence buying decisions.

Close behind are Gen Xers, half of whom say they are the decision-makers within their organization. A further one-quarter report they influence purchasing decisions – leaving 30% with little to no involvement.

As expected, the research confirms Baby Boomers have less of a role in the B2B buying cycle. Only 1 in 4 say they are decision-makers, and 2 out of 5 play no role at all. This trend is sure to grow as more Baby Boomers exit the workforce.


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Our research premise and background

If you’ve made it this far, then we can safely assume you already know B2B technology purchases are high-stakes decisions because of the considerable cost, time, and resources required to pull them off.

For sellers, understanding the buyer’s decision-making process is crucial. They need to know who the influencers and decision-makers are, what tools they use to research technology solutions, and how to deploy, often limited, sales and marketing resources to close more deals. Our research was guided by this premise.

How We Buy: Four Generations Reveal How They Make B2B Purchasing Decisions provides B2B technology providers with a deeper understanding of each generation’s individual preferences and their role in the buying process. The study is based on an online survey of 263 respondents, the majority of whom were employed at organizations with 100 or more staff. Approximately 27% worked in senior management positions, 32% were in middle management, and 19% were executives or C-suite members.

Participants spanned industries including telecommunications, technology, education, finance, healthcare, manufacturing, government, and business services. The survey qualified enterprise B2B technology purchases as expenditures of $10,000 or more.

We strongly recommend exploring our entire dataset and taking a deeper dive into our findings with our interactive tool, which lets you manipulate the data to visualize how each generation operates as they progress through the sales funnel.



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