Why Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (SMBs) Require a Different Sales Process

You know that not all B2B customers respond to the same sales pitch. Each prospect poses a unique set of challenges because they each have their own buying process and specific needs.

For this reason, the sales strategies you apply to larger organizations versus small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) should be different. 

SMB selling has its own set of rules because SMB buyers tend to want more insight, reassurance, and information before they are ready to make a purchase.

For SMB sales, buyers want to take the time to learn all they can before making a decision. A mistake with a large capital purchase could be crippling to the company.

How to Approach SMB Sales

To increase sales, you need to tailor your sales approach to the size of the business. Corporate sales tend to require more personal attention from the sales reps (ongoing phone calls, emails, meetings, etc) until the prospect can evaluate and ultimately buy the product. The size of the deal usually justifies a more hands-on approach. 

With SMB sales, the size of the deal tends to be substantially smaller, so you won’t see the same returns from a high-touch sales approach. That’s why you have to apply a different sales process that gives SMB customers the support they need, allowing you to close without much hand-holding.

A Large Potential Market 

Many vendors don’t consider SMB sales worthwhile because they feel that the cost to close doesn’t justify the ROI. 

If you use the old-school approach with field reps making sales calls, then landing new SMB customers can be expensive. However, the size of the SMB market is too big to overlook.

There are more than 30.7 million SMBs in the United States and only 19,699 large businesses. SMBs make up 99.9 percent of all companies, 99.7 percent of companies with employees, and 97.5 percent of exporters. 

When you are selling B2B products, the amount of revenue from potential SMB customers dramatically outweighs the returns from selling to larger companies.

To land SMB sales, you need to use a hands-off, self-guided sales approach by attracting buyers with information that will keep them interested until they are ready to buy. It’s a very different sales process from the one you’d use with a large business.

Be a Consultant, Not Just a Salesperson

When selling B2B solutions to larger companies, you are proactively selling. You identify the right stakeholders within the organization, make your pitch, win their support, and guide them through the buying process. 

B2B sales to larger organizations usually require many meetings, proposals, counter-proposals, negotiations, presentations, demos, and more until you actually close the deal.

With SMBs, you are dealing with a much smaller group of stakeholders. In fact, for most SMB sales, the business owner is the one who makes the buying decisions. SMB owners are extremely busy and usually have to manage multiple areas of their operations.

For this reason, SMB buyers tend to buy like consumers. They are too busy to take sales calls, even for products they need. Instead, they tend to research solutions on their own. Seventy percent of their buying journey is complete before they even talk to a vendor.

Because SMBs tend to have smaller budgets and operate on a shoestring, every purchase is strategic. They are inclined to be more cautious about making any buying decisions. 

Rather than trying to sell them on your solution, you are better served by acting as a consultant. You must help the SMB owner understand your value proposition and let them come to their own conclusion. 

The Customer Success Sale

SMBs are looking for solutions to a problem, not just products. By becoming a contributor to their overall success your company is much more valuable than just another salesperson.

Success selling is a growing trend that delivers contextual support at each step of the customer journey. As SMB buyers research solutions to business problems, they find it more difficult to sift through the avalanche of data available on the web. It’s up to your sales team to help them interpret that data and advise them on the best approach.

Specialized Roles in the Sales Process

Sales reps were once generalists that guided prospects from lead capture to close. However, B2B selling is now more specialized. Customer development representatives (CDRs) now handle lead development. 

With the help of automated tools to deliver ongoing educational content, the CDRs manage inbound leads and validate them as they move through the pipeline. Lead scoring is a valuable tool at this stage to weed out the tire kickers from the valid prospects.

After doing their research, the SMB prospect will ask to be contacted to learn more and the account executive (AE) can then step in to handle customer acquisition and closing. 

When the deal has been signed, the new SMB customer is transferred to a customer success representative (CSR) to manage onboarding and support. CSRs will encourage up-sells and product renewals.

By dividing sales responsibilities along the customer journey and nurturing SMB prospects, the customer receives a better buying experience and a more cost-effective sale is achieved.

Outsourcing Parts of the Sales Process

Specializing in a specific vertical (financial services, transportation, manufacturing, retail, healthcare, etc) makes it easier to focus on the SMB prospect’s unique problem and offer solutions specific to that industry.

To make SMB selling even more efficient, some B2B vendors are outsourcing aspects of the sales process. Using third-party support for lead qualification, onboarding, and other stages of the process leaves in-house sales reps free to focus on more strategic tasks such as closing new businesses, supporting them, and upselling existing customers.

Final Thoughts

When you recognize that SMB buyers are looking for answers, not products, you will be in a better position to turn them from prospects into clients. 

To succeed, you need to understand the SMB buyer’s mindset and be willing to work with them to help them succeed. This will ensure that everyone wins along the way.


Author Bio: Amy Wilde, a 20+ year leader in the B2B space, oversees the demand engine + content for MarketStar. This role takes into account targeted campaigns, ABM, and content, with the focus of driving awareness and interest to the right audience. Amy works alongside the business development team and believes in full collaboration.  

Link to website: www.marketstar.com 

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