New Research: Selling to SMBs

How do small and medium businesses (SMBs) want to be sold to? Where do they first learn about products and services, where in the purchase process do they want to engage with a salesperson, and what kind of content and resources do they review at each stage of the buying cycle?

To answer these questions – and to help you sell more effectively to SMBs –we recently surveyed 315 U.S. SMB principals. The results are instructive; there are some great learnings on which content formats to use at different points in the sales cycle, when to have a salesperson make contact, and how best to stay in touch with both warm prospects and customers.

Peers are critical for awareness…

SMBs are most likely to learn about new products from their peers, followed by colleagues at work, events and trade shows, and the resource and product sections of vendor websites. The least-likely format to learn about new products? Instagram.

…for product research

Peers also play the biggest role when SMBs are researching products and services. After their peers, SMBs conduct product research through search, the product section of vendor websites, and vendor sales representatives.

…and purchase too

When looking for information to make a final purchase decision, SMBs rely on their peers first and foremost. They are next most likely to make a purchase decision based on a call or meeting with a salesperson, the product section of vendor websites, and search.

If peers are key to awareness, influence and final purchase decision-making, how are you motivating your customers to be your evangelists?

Sales: timing is everything

Seven out of ten (69%) of SMBs want a salesperson to contact them once they are ready to make a purchase. This is why content marketing has become so popular; SMBs want to conduct their own research and then work with a salesperson to answer final questions and place an order. One in three (33%) are open to hearing from a salesperson on an ongoing basis, to stay informed of your offerings and promotions.

Email me

To keep in touch with a vendor while considering a purchase, SMBs most prefer an occasional email from a sales representative (40%), followed by in-person meetings with a sales rep (38%) and an email newsletter (29%). Once they have made a purchase, SMBs most prefer keeping in touch with vendors via an occasional email from (40%), meeting with (35%) or call from (34%) a salesperson.

Marketing content: Clarity above all

What do SMBs value most in the content you provide them? Clarity. 76% say that “easy to understand” is a somewhat or extremely important aspect of marketing content, followed by “clearly describes the benefit of the product or service” (73%) and “provides information on a product or service I’m interested in” (69%). The least important aspect of marketing content? “It is in a new or unique format” (25%).

About Stu Richards

Stu is responsible for setting Bredin strategy, as well as day-to-day management of company operations including marketing and business development, partnerships and alliances, product development, finance, operations and HR. A frequent speaker on marketing to SMBs, Stu has more than a decade of technology sales and brand marketing experience at IBM and Nabisco Brands. Stu holds an MBA from the Amos Tuck School at Dartmouth College.