Small business owners are an odd lot. I can say this without judgment because I am one.
Cracking the small business code is something that routinely perplexes large organizations. I see it every day, and I’ve been asked numerous times to consult on that very puzzle.
The thing is, however, a lot of small businesses want to sell to other small businesses too. Many times I find that they miss the subtleties of attracting small business even though they need look no further than their own buying habits for keys to the sale.
So, today I’m going to share how I, one long-time small business owner, think and make purchases in an effort to create what might become your cheat sheet for how to think about selling to small business.
I suspect there are Fortune 500 consultants that would charge tens of thousands of dollars for what I’m about to reveal below, but you get it for free!
1) Realize I don’t plan that far out
Small business owners would love to have a three-year and five-year plan, but the reality is we often have a one-week plan and it’s a rough draft. I’m not saying it’s perfect, I’m just saying it’s the reality of the time and resource sparse business.
We don’t respond well to future ROI messages or value received over time because mostly we’re usually looking to fix something right now. Talk to me about the pain I have today, fix the problem that will get me immediate relief and then we can talk about the future.
2) Help me buy value over price
I actually don’t want to buy on price, but I will. If you don’t give me a way to see how your solution makes better sense to me right now , I’ll choose the lower price. But if you can demonstrate that you’re going to be here whenever and however I need you, that switching to your solution isn’t going to be painful and that this time it’s going to be different, I’ll pay a premium.
The problem is, I don’t believe your brochure. In fact, the greater problem is I don’t fully trust myself to implement what you’ve suggested either. So, demonstrate by building a relationship, don’t sell, educate. Prove to me that you really understand my business by using my language – if you use the terms synergy or value proposition it will hard for me to hear anything else you say.
3) Make the service as sexy as the sale
Good marketing makes you hungry for how your world is about to change for the better. Good marketing paints a picture of your new shiny world once you’ve bought the product or engaged the service. That’s the job of marketing – to build know, like and trust.
The problem is that once I say I want to buy, good marketing seems to come to a crashing end.
Good marketing also understands that I need to be oriented to what I just bought, I need to know what to do next, I need to know who to contact with questions, I need to know how I pay, how I get more, how I add features and I need to know it all as part of your sales and service process.
In fact, good marketing doesn’t ever end. It also wants to measure the results I got and it wants to make sure I’m thrilled.
4) Know that I am loyal to a fault
Okay, I’m playing with fire sharing this one, but you need to know that I value loyalty as much as anything. So, that’s a great thing to know, but it’s a two-way street. I will be loyal to companies that are loyal to me.
If you fix my problem, you do it in a way that is simple, effective and affordable and if I come to trust your words and actions – I’ll buy anything else you present to me in the same way. I’ll go out of my way to keep buying from you because what I know about you is more comforting than what I don’t know about someone else’s pitch.
Take advantage of this by making it easy for me to share you with my friends, neighbors and colleagues. Make me feel like a champion for your business and I’ll willingly become an unpaid member of your sales team.
5) Continue to educate and I’ll buy more
Don’t change once I become a customer. If you want me to buy more, don’t just toss me into the up sell and cross sell sales funnel that consists of little more than canned sales messages.
Continue to educate me, share things that real people share with each other, talk to me like someone you want to have a deeper relationship with – do that and you’ll earn the right to come to me with the unabashed intention of selling me something else.