Different clients require different sales tactics, and small businesses operate on a different segment of the playing field from most other clients. Has your sales team had difficulties connecting with small business owners? Do you have a large number of small business leads but not know where to begin with your pitches? Here are eight quick steps on what small businesses typically value and how to make effective pitches for these unique entities.
- Make it clear how you can help them. Small business owners are often busy and don’t have time to sort through extensive feature documentation or a long pitch. Before you make a pitch, do your research on their business and figure out where your product fits into their strategy. Cut right to the heart of the issue, and don’t waste any time.
- Respect their time. Avoid trying to monopolize their time, and avoid rescheduling calls or meetings at the last minute. A small business owner who has agreed to meet with you and learn more about your product has likely had to make sacrifices, delegate tasks, and plan for this meeting. While showing that respect won’t close the deal on its own, failing to do so can kill a sale before a pitch even begins.
- Call ahead. Similar to the previous rule of selling to small business owners, calling ahead regarding sales meetings can save you and the owner time and money. Things often come up in the world of small business, so calling ahead can save you the trouble of getting there and finding out that another vendor missed a shipment and everything is chaos, or that the owner has had a family emergency.
- Cut them a deal. As a rule, small business owners operate on comparatively narrow profit margins, so consider finding ways to soften the financial blow of starting up with your product or service. This doesn’t have to be a discount, as a smaller plan or a free trial can do just as good a job of demonstrating value with minimal financial commitment. While this can sometimes entail taking some risks on your side, many small business owners will appreciate the treatment.
- Keep your promises. The same traits that make small businesses slow to adopt new products or services make them fiercely loyal customers, but the price of this loyalty is consistent follow-through. Never promise small business owners something that isn’t feasible. If they begin to plan for it and things fall through, they’re sure to take their business elsewhere rather than wait, especially if their own deals are on the line.
- Give them that personal touch. A lot of time and emotional energy goes into running a small business, and those who put their effort into such a business like to feel as though their products, services, and relationships are unique. Customer relationship management software can help extensively here, as it can track information on a given client in the long term. Follow up with them regarding products and services on occasion.
- Provide solid support. A completed sale doesn’t mark the end of a relationship. If a small business customer requires more information on how to use the product after the fact, make sure to provide it, or the effort you put forth in courting them as a customer will rapidly go down the drain. Make sure the customer knows how to contact those who can help them whenever they’re using the product.
- Keep selling. Once you have a small business owner buying one of your products or services, consider other sales opportunities that might be relevant to their business model. Don’t deluge them with pitches immediately, but after a few months of successful sales, consider pitching them another product that you genuinely believe they need. Because buying multiple things from the same place can save them time and hassle, these business owners are likely to at least hear you out for a second time.
Do you have experience selling to small businesses?
By using these basic guidelines, and keeping track of the history of your relationships with tools like customer relationship management software, you can maximize your return on partnerships with small businesses. If you have to violate some of these rules and let a small business client down, look at this article on how to craft an effective apology for some tips on how to salvage the situation. If you have other tips to offer based on your experience doing business with small businesses and startup companies, let us know in the comments.