Help Your Reps Make it Big Selling to Small Companies

BY Tim Londergan
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I always enjoy selling to a smaller business. It may be the feeling that I’m contributing, more directly, to the success of the client. Or it may be the personal interaction of dealing with someone who needs and appreciates my efforts. When you intimately know the business, their product line and what they are trying to accomplish, you feel like a part of the process and not like just another vendor. That’s not to say that selling to SMBs is easy. Quite the opposite. Selling to many smaller clients can be time consuming and their needs are often complex and nuanced. So, how can your reps make it big selling to smaller companies?

Make it big selling to small companies

First, your reps must understand the SMB buyer. Small, in this case, does not equate to simple. Often, reps will be dealing with a busy, possibly overwhelmed owner or officer of the company. The layers of decision making are flatter, and the buyer does not want to be sold. They want to reduce risk and can’t afford costly mistakes. Smaller budgets require a guaranteed ROI. If you're not sure how to help your reps understand ROI, sign up for sales manager training.

Relationships matter. Reps must take time to establish a connection and strive to know their business. Teach your reps to research the industry and learn the inherent strengths and weaknesses of this particular company. Once they have credibility, they can put their resources to better use and close more deals in less time by focusing on one type of customer.

Know how your product fits. Small businesses aren’t just looking for a "lite" version of your product. If reps don’t make the proper shifts in your product, process and approach, they are unlikely to get much from their SMB effort at all. For example, while SMBs are happy to experiment and give new products a chance, long-​term and binding contracts with heavy cancellation fees can be a deal breaker. Similarly, if your company is used to charging for implementation and training, you reps may need flexibility to adjust those barriers to improve adoption and use.

Create value beyond your product. I always find this rewarding. Small business buyers may not always be tech savvy or have functional expertise in all the areas of the business they are responsible for. Remember that SMBs want your product for a chore that they do not want (or know how) to do. This is where your reps add value – their time and expertise. Encourage them to think of themselves as an unpaid resource for this client. If they can become a trusted partner early on, they are most likely to have that customer’s loyalty, and therefore advocacy. This leads to referrals which, in itself, is a way to make it big selling to small companies.

Focus on results. SMBs can’t invest in something that won’t quickly and directly contribute to their success. Reps must highlight how your company's services or products will improve the SMB's margins and grow their business in a real, measurable way. If possible, reps should discuss both the short- and long-​term benefits of buying from your company. The immediate benefits can make it easier for them to justify the purchase and dive right in, while the long-​term benefits will position the deal as an investment and give them a reason to stick around.

Long-​term customer loyalty ranks right up there with unsolicited customer referrals. It just feels good. When reps know they have helped a client and had an impact on their business, they feel satisfied. And, if at the same time, they have made progress toward their own sales goals, they can truly make it big selling to small companies.