Bredin Report: Who has the ear of the SMB principal?

The Most Influential SMB Advisors

Each month, Bredin surveys 500 U.S. SMB principals in our shared-client survey the SMB Pulse. We recently asked them to rank the importance of various advisors in learning about new products and services. There are some great learnings for your sales and marketing to this high-potential segment.

SMB principals say the most important awareness influencer is…

Themselves. Regardless of company size, almost 9 in 10 SMB principals say they are very important in bringing product and services for their business to their own attention – far more than any other advisor. In other words, most SMB principals see themselves as the primary source of information on new products and services for their business, for example through search, social, broadcast, content or other media.

Awareness influencers by SMB size

After themselves, the advisors that SMBs rely on to learn about new products and services for their business varies significantly by company size. For companies with fewer than 20 employees, principals rely most on their spouse (29% rate them very important for product awareness), followed by their business partner (24%). Principals of companies with 20 to 99 employees rely most on their sales and or marketing staff, and their office manager (tied at 53%); while principals of companies with 100 to 500 employees rely most on their head of finance (63%) and their board / investors (60%).

For product research, SMB principals most rely on…

Themselves. Sound familiar? SMB principals are highly self-reliant; almost nine in ten of them see themselves as leading product research in their company. Whether it is by talking to their peers, reading online reviews or watching demos, for example, SMB principals are very involved with determining which products and service will help them achieve their business goals.

Research influencers by SMB size

However, SMB principals aren’t islands; they also rely on their partners and advisors to help with product research. As at the awareness stage, the advisors they rely on vary by company size. For example, principals of companies with under 20 employees rate their spouse (25%) or business partner (22%) very important for help with product research. Principals of companies with 20 to 99 employees, however, rate their business partners and their IT staff very important (tied at 49%), while principals of companies with 100 to 500 employees rate their IT staff (70%) and sales and marketing staff (62%) very important.

And to make a purchase decision, SMB principals most rely on…

You guessed it, themselves. Again, nine in 10 SMB principals rate themselves very important to making the final purchase decision for products or services for their business. The principal is very much the go-to target for your marketing efforts, regardless of your offering or the company size you’re targeting.

Purchase influencers by SMB size

As with product research, SMBs rely on different advisors for help making the final purchase decision depending on their company size. Once again, principals of companies with under 20 employees rate their spouse (24%) and business partner (23%) very important. Principals of companies with 20 to 99 employees, however, rate their business partners (45%) and their head of finance (38%) very important for help making the final purchase decision, while principals of companies with 100 to 500 employees rate their head of finance (60%) and IT staff (59%) very important. Obviously the specific role will depend on your product category, but a key takeaway is to make it easy for an influencer to bring a business case to the business principal.

Want to learn more? Get the full list of SMB sales cycle influencers, by company size, respondent age, industry group, growth outlook and more.

About Bredin

Bredin was founded in 1991 by America's foremost small business expert, author and syndicated columnist Alice Bredin. From its beginning, Bredin was designed to be a breed apart: 50% research consultancy, 50% creative agency, 100% focused on SMB. Based in Somerville, Mass., Bredin helps Fortune 500 companies understand, reach and retain SMB customers through timely, targeted research and award-winning marketing programs.