Supporting Your SMB Sales Team with Content

One of the biggest challenges our clients in SMB marketing have is collaborating with their sales colleagues to develop effective sales materials. A key part of this challenge is knowing exactly what SMBs want from a salesperson, and when to engage with them.

To find out how you can better connect with SMBs via sales content, we recently surveyed 386 U.S. SMB principals.

When do SMBs want to hear from a salesperson?

You may have seen research that B2B buyers are anywhere from 60% to 85% or more along the path to purchase before they want to engage with a salesperson. While that may be broadly true, there is quite a bit of nuance based on the buyer’s company size, age, growth outlook and customer status. Our research shows that in aggregate, 64% of SMBs most want to be contacted when they are ready to make a purchase. However, 53% are open to being contacted while they are in research mode, and 27% are open to staying in touch with a salesperson on an ongoing basis.

Larger SMBs are even more receptive to hearing from a salesperson early in the sales cycle – more than two–thirds of SMBs with more than 20 employees are open to hearing from a salesperson in the research stage. And companies with 20 to 99 employees say they are more likely to learn about new products and services from a salesperson than from any other information source.

What kinds of materials do SMBs want?

The kinds of print materials SMBs want when they meet with a salesperson vary by company size. VSBs (companies with fewer than 20 employees) want sell sheets, while mid-tier businesses (20-99 employees) prefer a checklist or worksheet to help them determine the right product choice or configuration. Larger SMBs (100 to 500 employees) prefer research reports, for example to learn about how their peers benefit from your solutions.

Regardless of size, SMBs all want the same thing from screen-based sales information: an instant quote / confirmation that provides specifications, pricing, delivery timing, etc.

SMB sales material preferences also vary by industry. For example, most SMBs want instant price / availability confirmation from airlines, alternative lenders, hotels, insurance companies, Internet service providers, overnight package delivery companies, phone and cellphone companies, rental car companies and software companies. However, they most want sell sheets from credit card companies, credit unions, mutual fund companies and office supply stores; checklists or worksheets to determine the right product selection from community and national banks, employee recruiting firms, payroll service providers, retirement plan providers and tech hardware companies; and case studies from social media companies.

How and when do SMBs want to hear from a salesperson?

While they are evaluating a purchase, the largest SMBs most want to hear from a salesperson via email. SMBs with under 100 employees are evenly split between email and wanting to reach out to a salesperson as needed.

There is a striking difference in preferred contact frequency by company size. 44% of VSBs prefer to reach out to vendors as needed, while more than one in three companies with more than 20 employees prefer monthly outreach, and two in five prefer weekly contact. This preference does not change significantly after an SMB has become a customer.

What do SMBs want in sales content?

The number one attribute SMBs look for in your sales content is clear pricing. They also want your content to be easy to understand, and to clearly describe the benefits of your offerings.

…and the winner is: Microsoft

SMBs rate Microsoft as having the best sales content – 59% rate its content between somewhat to very useful or valuable. The runners-up are PayPal (57%), Staples (51%), and FedEx and HP (tied at 50%).

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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.