Bredin Report: Who Should You Be You Selling To?

Each month, we survey 500 SMB principals to keep track of their evolving needs and priorities. We recently asked SMB principals who they rely on to learn about and make a purchase decision on products and services for their business. The results have implications for your targeting efforts.

Who do SMB principals learn from?

SMBs principals see themselves as the individual in their sphere that is most likely to learn about solutions for their business – and by a long shot. 85% of respondents say they learn about new products directly, well ahead of the 56% rating their business partner as very important for product awareness. Sales and marketing staff, the principal’s spouse, and their CPAs are the next most important awareness influencers.

How important are each of these people in bringing
products and services for your business to your attention?

However, the importance of different awareness influencers varies by company size. After themselves, SMB principals with fewer than 20 employees rate their business partner second and their marketing staff third. SMBs with 20 to 99 employees, however, rate their office manager second and their business partner third. Those with 100 to 500 employees rate their IT staff second, and their board or investors third.

Who do SMB princpals rely on for purchase advice?

As with becoming aware of products or services that might help them achieve their business goals, SMB principals also very much see themselves as the lead researcher and decision-maker. Regardless of company size, they rate themselves as much more important in that capacity than any other advisor.

How important are each of these people in researching and making a final purchase decision for products and services for your business?

As with awareness, the advisors who are next most important vary significantly by company size. For example, SMBs with fewer than 20 employees rate their business partner second and their spouse third. SMBs with 20 to 99 employees also rate their business partner second, but their head of finance third. Those with 100 to 500 employees rate their head of finance and their IT consultant/MSP second (in a tie), followed by their business partner and their IT staff.

The implications for targeting

Because SMB principals see themselves as the primary researcher and decision-maker in their company, it always makes sense to target them with your communications. You’ll obviously also want to target the relevant functional head such as IT, HR or sales/marketing at larger SMBs, depending on your offering – but be sure to make it easy for them to make a business case to the principal (and the head of finance). External advisors such as CPAs, IT consultants and board members / investors can be very effective door-openers at larger SMBs. Likewise, office managers are often tasked with assessing solutions such as technology, telecoms and furnishings. If you’re not clear on who to target, your sales team will have great insights, or you can conduct quick research to identify who your best targets are, and which tactics and messaging work most effectively.

Need help understanding and/or engaging SMBs? Bredin can keep you up to date on evolving SMB needs and challenges through quick-turn, actionable market research. We can also help you develop high-value content to boost SMB awareness, brand perception, leads, conversion and revenue.

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.