Selling to Small Businesses: A Sales Outsourcer's Perspective

Helping Your Sales Reps Engage Small Businesses

One of the largest, most productive, and hard-working business segment in the world consists of small businesses. Small businesses need many of the same services products and services as large enterprises, but your sales team probably needs to sell many more small businesses for you to turn a profit, making the sales strategy different.

Your sales representatives need to appropriately engage each small business decision maker, while practicing good time management to avoid spending more time than is warranted on any one sale.

Small business owners have their own unique needs and challenges, and understanding the way they think and operate can go a long way toward helping your sales teams to effectively sell to them. Here are some of the most common characteristics of small business owners, and how you can teach your sales representatives to address them.

They Are Busy

Small business owners wear many different hats. Because their organizations are by definition small, they often tend to be their own accountants, salespeople, and even secretaries. Small business owners can often be found coming in to the office early, and staying late. They don’t have a lot of extra time, and they don’t take kindly to people they perceive as wanting to waste their time.

What to do? Make sure your reps have their sales proposition honed down to a very quick, concentrated sales pitch. Your small business customer does not want to hear a lengthy spiel about your product, even if it will make his or her life 100% better.Tell your sales teams to stick to the essentials, and make sure they present them in a concise, persuasive manner.

They Worry About the Bottom Line

Unlike a sales prospect at a large company, who only needs to keep track of his or her own department, small business owners are always conscious of their company’s overall bottom line. Even if your product is wonderful and their company needs it, they will not be interested in it if they can’t make it work on the balance sheet.

What to do? Train your sales representatives to help potential customers see the long- and short-term financial benefits of the product. Can it help them control costs? Sell more of their own product? Bring in new, profitable customers? Make sure the product or service your sales representatives are offering can help the bottom line for small business owners, and help your sales teams know how best to convey those benefits to their prospects.

Their Business Is Their Baby

Small business owners often started the company themselves, or are caring for a business that has been in their family for generations. They are emotionally invested in the company they run, and their identity is often very wrapped up in the successes and failures of the company.

What to do? Make sure your sales representatives remember to seek to understand small business owners and their companies. Tell them to ask relevant questions and really listen to the answers.  When your sales representatives act genuinely interested in their prospects and their companies, small business owners will feel that they care about them and the company. Understanding how the business owner’s company works will also help them troubleshoot problems and help the decision maker see how the product they are selling can help.  

They Have Friends

Small businesses tend to be very much part of a community. They are often members of the local Chamber of Commerce, and know many of the other small business owners in their area. They are interested in their community and try to be good citizens of it, and expect other people to do the same.

What to do? Remind your sales teams to always ask for referrals! Small businesses owners have friends who are also small business owners. If they like your product, they will be happy to recommend it (and the sales representative) to their friends. Do a sales meeting on the "Jones Effect." If your sales teams have sold to one business in a particular neighborhood, they should be sure to mention that to potential customers nearby. One effective strategy is to ask if the new customer would mind stepping next door with the rep to chat with a neighboring business.

On the flip side, small business owners also share their grievances with each other. If your sales reps are rude, pushy, or demanding to one business owner, you may be assured that the neighbors will hear about it. Create a sales culture where your sales teams are always encouraged to be professional, helpful and courteous. That way, even if they don’t make a sale, they will succeed in making a good impression that may open a neighboring door.

Are you having trouble effectively reaching the small business market? Netpique sales outsourcing experts can help! We have a range of training programs, as well as recruiting and sales outsourcing solutions to help your company more effectively sell to small business customers.