The 3 key principles for successful selling to SMBs

The SMB market is ripe with sales opportunities - but you have to be strategic about picking them. With a focus on precision, speed, and relevancy, you can increase sales and grow your SMB market share in a way that's both profitable and sustainable.

Small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) are typically defined as businesses who have between 1 to 500 employees and up to $50M in annual revenue. Worldwide, SMBs represent 90% of all businesses, and they span all types of industries.

Every SMB is unique. They all have their own visions and goals. And yet, most growing small businesses have a common need for:

  • Core products and services required to operate, and
  • Products and services that support their growth.

There is no question that there is significant revenue potential in the SMB market for financial service providers. However, something else that SMBs have in common? They tend to be difficult to qualify, and even tougher to engage.

Tackling the issues with selling to SMBs

Selling to SMBs is not like selling to corporate clients or large enterprises. Owners and decision makers have many different tasks competing for their attention, and they don’t have the time or patience to take a qualifying call or sit through a long sales presentation. They are under tremendous pressure to make the right decisions for their businesses, and tend to be conservative with their spending. Small business owners can often be skeptical that any large organization, such as a bank or an insurer, would have their best interests in mind.

To complicate matters, there are thousands and thousands of SMBs, all in different industries and sub-industries, opening and closing daily.

So, as a service provider, how do you identify prospects that are a good fit for your offering and ready to buy, let alone convince them to buy from you? 

You follow three key principles:

  1. Don’t sacrifice effectiveness for efficiency.
  2. Create, then use, a first-mover advantage.
  3. Keep it short and sweet.

Principle 1: Don’t sacrifice effectiveness for efficiency.

To create B2B awareness, marketing teams often resort to broad digital campaigns in the hopes of generating leads. For example, a financial services provider may run a Google Ads campaign to promote payment solutions in the restaurant industry, and build a specific landing page to collect prospect data. They may even pre-qualify any leads, possibly based on size/age of the business or its industry, before turning the information over to the sales team.

Let’s say that ad campaign generated 500 responses, at a cost of $10 per lead. Of those 500 leads, 400 were pre-qualified and passed on to the sales team. 4% of the 400 converted to customers, so that’s 16 new accounts. Not bad for one digital ad campaign spend of $5,000! Casting a wide net feels like a pretty efficient way to drum up new business.

Except, when it comes to SMBs, it’s not.

The problem with casting a wide net is that you get equally wide results, and the pool of potential SMB leads is very wide indeed. Although you gained 16 new accounts, your sales resources spent a considerable amount of time and effort chasing the 384 accounts who didn’t convert. Maybe SMBs weren’t a good fit for your offering, they weren’t ready to buy or BNPL, or they were shopping around and went with a competitive offering – whatever the reason, although you reached them efficiently enough, they weren’t the right prospects at the right time. That significant sales effort could have been far more successful if presented with better, more qualified leads.

Instead of trying to find ways to efficiently reach the SMB market, focus instead on effectively identifying SMBs who are on a growth track and who meet your ideal customer profile, then consider how you can make their lives better. With a highly data-driven approach to targeting growing SMBs, you increase your likelihood of relevancy and of capturing the attention of your ideal customers.

Going back to the earlier example, instead of running an ad campaign promoting your payment solutions in the restaurant industry, what if you personally emailed restaurant owners who announced a new location coming soon, and offered to help them integrate payment solutions to reduce transaction fees? 

Not only are you demonstrating a knowledge of their business needs, but you are also proposing a solution that would increase their profitability and eliminate a potential pain point – and that should capture the attention of any savvy business owner.

By concentrating on SMBs who are on a growth track, you are building a strong customer base with the potential to generate higher revenue for your business over time – and increasing that critical lifetime value (LTV) metric.

Principle 2: Create a first-mover advantage - and run with it.

You’re not the only financial services provider looking to grow in the SMB market. You have competition – lots of it. A business owner that is actively looking for a solution has already caught the attention of your competitors, and you can be certain there are low-cost providers out there making big promises.

If you can get your tailored solution in front of the prospect before anyone else even realizes there’s a need, though, you have a far better chance at winning the business.

To do so, you need to monitor your prospects for any changes or events that would create a pain point that you could resolve, and reach out immediately upon learning of the opportunity. Your data has to be the most accurate, timely data out there, because you want to contact them before they start shopping around for a solution.

The benefits of proactively approaching a prospect with a well-considered solution to an emerging challenge are many, such as:

  • You save the owner time, their most precious resource, because they don’t have to research and shop around.
  • You position yourself as a reliable partner who understands their business and can anticipate their needs, instead of just a vendor.
  • You avoid bidding wars with competitors, since they haven’t had time to recognize and respond to the need.

Principle 3: Keep it short and sweet.

You can reach out to the right person at the right time, but if you spend too much time getting to the point, you’ll lose them. Remember, SMB owners are focused on growing their business, and have no time to spare. To keep the sales cycle as quick as possible, don’t dwell on the features and benefits of your offering. Instead, focus only on what problem you can eliminate for them.

That will almost always come down to a quick recap of the challenge, followed by messaging that spells out one of the following three things:

  • How you can help them increase revenue,
  • How you can help them improve their operational efficiency, saving time and money, or
  • How you can help them grow or strengthen their customer base.

Going back to our restaurant example, your initial outreach could look something like this:

Hi Irena,

Congratulations on your new location opening soon! It’s nice to see a local restaurant expanding.

When restaurants open new locations, the payment processing charges can add up quickly if each establishment is treated as a separate entity. That really eats into your profitability.

Have you considered using a single payment processing solution across locations? I could help you significantly cut down on your costs per transaction, because you’d get the benefit of higher volume rates. You’ve earned them, after all!

Let me know if you’d like more information. And again, congrats!

Todd Rosenblaum

ABC Payments

With an outreach that’s knowledgeable, personalized, and to the point, you have a far better chance of engaging with your potential client.

Follow the principles with dynamic data

All three principles assume one thing – that you have current, real-time SMB market data. You must be able to: 

  • Identify growing businesses that match your ICP, 
  • Know when they are experiencing a trigger event that opens a purchase window, and
  • Have accurate contact information to reach the right person.

If your CRM is currently crammed full of not-so-intelligent market information, then those are pretty big asks.

What you need is dynamic data – in other words, data that continues to be updated after it is collected so that it remains accurate and can signal change – to drive your marketing and sales efforts.

Tarci provides actionable, dynamic SMB data to enterprises across a wide range of industries including financial services, banks, tech providers and insurance companies. Our continuous intelligence engine collects and compiles data and, with the application of powerful, industry-specific tags and events, monitors how SMBs are changing.

To learn more about this innovative new approach to SMB data, please contact us today.

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