With the annual Small Business Saturday celebration just around the corner, the timing seemed right to take a minute to address steps for effectively reaching and engaging with this important target market. For one, small-to-midsize businesses (SMBs) don’t like being treated like enterprise prospects. That’s because their buying journey is completely different: they’re typically not as technically savvy, the speed of their decision making is usually faster, and the buyer may also be the user of your solution. Often, they rely more on trust, references and the credibility of the seller.
Along these lines, a new report, “Mapping the Small Business Customer Journey” by B2B Marketing, recently caught my eye. It not only offers advice on how to approach SMBs but also on how to understand their perspectives as you engage with them throughout the sales cycle. Here are nine takeaways from the report for reaching and resonating with SMBs:
- Segment your targets: Go beyond standard segmentation elements (e.g. company size industry, location, etc.) and incorporate significance, urgency and ease (the “SUE” principle) to more effectively identify and prioritize your SMB prospects.
- Know your marks: Take the time to understand the business, motivations and pain-points of your potential SMB customers as well as their needs, influencers, information sources and decision-making processes.
- Map the journey: Combine your segmentation and prospect information with email response and website analytics to understand common SMB engagement pathways. Then create a map of the myriad engagement touchpoints at each buying stage to enable resources and identify any potential roadblocks.
- Become a trusted partner: SMBs won’t buy from vendors they don’t trust – position your brand as a dependable source of advice rather than a salesy product provider.
- Make it easy: As SMBs need to easily find answers to their questions, make their route to information as short and straightforward as possible.
- Hold their hand: SMBs will likely need and respond better to trials, demos and other more direct engagements, which could be done via email communication, in-product resources, support phone calls and even in-person meetings.
- Offer purchase options: As many SMBs are not as technically sophisticated as enterprise prospects, some targets in this segment may not navigate digital channels as well as others. You’ll want to create and enable the purchase channels most desired by your targets, which may be digital and/or otherwise.
- Don’t ignore the post-sale: Post-purchase support will likely be more valued by SMBs – they don’t have the internal support and resources of larger companies. Include support options as part of the overall offer.
- Build advocacy: Recommendations, references, testimonials and success stories are highly valued by SMBs. Make it easy for them to provide feedback to fuel your future marketing efforts and reward them for sharing their positive experiences.
The bottom line is, SMBs will respond better to simpler, more direct buying engagements. That’s why it’s important to avoid overwhelming them with choices and to use clear, transparent pricing and contract terms.
By better understanding and addressing SMB prospects’ needs, converting them into long-term customers becomes much easier. What other strategies do you use when marketing and selling to SMBs?
Outward Media’s accurate, targeted email data can enable you to achieve better email marketing ROI by targeting your best prospects – including top-level executives -- and, ultimately, converting more prospects into customers. Take a look at our case studies to find out more.