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Preparing for the New Generation of Manufacturing Leaders

The manufacturing industry is in the middle of a digital transformation that’s highlighted
by the increasing number of Baby Boomers retiring, concurrent with the influx of
Millennials or “digital natives”, in the job market. Industry leaders are going to have to
start re-evaluating how they go to market to account for the new demographic,
Millennials, who make up for 38% of industrial purchases from manufacturers, and 32%
from distributors.

With more than 11 million global decision makers on LinkedIn alone, it’s easy to
understand the gap today between manufacturing buyers and sellers. Not only are
millennials beginning to take over these decision making roles, they’re bringing in their
consumer buying behavior and expectations as well.

Although the exact birth years that define a Millennial are continuously disputed, the
general consensus is that anyone born between 1981 and 1996 is considered a
Millennial, while those born between 1965 and 1980 are referred to as Generation X.
Generation X provided the framework for introducing technology in the manufacturing
industry, understanding the benefits but often only seeing it as a “nice to have”.
However with an increasing number of Millennials taking on decision making roles, it is
no longer seen as a “nice to have”, but a “must have”, in order to remain competitive in
a customer experience oriented society.

According to a 2017 Forrester Research study, “digital natives prefer short bursts of
information, often in visual formats, and they think phone calls are tedious and
disruptive”. With this insight, it’s easy to understand how these buyers may be reluctant
to get a quote from a manufacturing website that requires lengthy descriptions of their
products with the end result being a consultative phone call to verify those needs.

In today’s instant gratification world, if you can’t quickly accommodate your customer’s
needs, they’ve most likely already moved on to the next best solution. Corporations such as Nike have been at the forefront of this instant gratification shift with their customer facing portals allowing someone to visually configure a Nike product to their liking, in the comfort of their own home.

Younger buyers are accustomed to real-time purchasing decisions that are personalized to their needs. Visual configuration enables this type of experience for your customers. They can configure the exact product they are purchasing and get a quote all within a few minutes vs a lengthy phone call with a sales rep. 

If you’re not already investing in visual configuration technology to provide your customers with a simple and interactive buying experience, you’ll be left behind- much like what Netflix did to the movie rental market.

So my question is are you ready to adapt to the new shift in leadership? If so let's chat

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