Small and Large Businesses Have a Lot in Common
Selling your products or service to other self-employed people and small businesses is quite different than selling to large corporations, but doing so can really have its benefits as the small business customer tends to be very loyal. Win them over and you just might win yourself a nice, long-term client. That said, it is also probably true that it is no easier selling to small business than a big business; both present challenges in their own way.
First the commonalities:
Both require patience: Selling to a large business can really take a lot of time, for various reasons. Whether it is a matter of finding the right department that needs what you are selling, or the right manager, or the person who can pull the trigger, or getting the necessary buy-in from everyone required, navigating the corporate maze can sometimes be a challenge for the uninitiated.
Patience is also required when selling to the self-employed business owner, but for different reasons. Often, the small business owner does not want to make a decision, or would rather string it out as long as possible so as to retain scarce resources, or is simply too busy to worry about whatever it is you are selling.
But once you do get their attention, you are well on your way to nabbing that sweet long-term customer.
Corporate managers and entrepreneurs alike both have budgetary constraints that amount to the same issue…
Both have limited budgets: It is often hard for the small business owner to appreciate this, given that their respective budgets are so different. But even so, the fact is that corporate managers and entrepreneurs alike both have budgetary constraints that amount to the same issue, namely, if they buy one thing that means they are not buying something else.
But really, the similarities pale in comparison to the differences.
What corporate people usually don’t get is how small business owners think and why they act and decide as they do. So let’s look at the reasons.
The Best Way to Reach Small Businesses: Know How They’re Different From the Big Guys
The biggest difference to appreciate is that when you work for a big business, you have a lot of help. Whether it is assistants or co-workers or the legal department or whatever, there are plenty of other hands around to help you accomplish what needs to get done.
That simply is not true for small businesses, the vast majority of which are one-person shops. Small business owners are often the president, director of marketing, receptionist and accountant, all rolled into one. As a result, they are a harried bunch with too much to think about and do. Master jugglers, they are.
It is no accident that one of the most famous pieces of advice ever given to the small business owner is to spend more time working on their business and less working in it. That is not something anyone would ever think to advise a corporate manager.
Recognizing What Else Is Different About Small Businesses
The second big difference is that most small business owners have budgetary constraints that are qualitatively different than that of the corporate manager.
• We don’t get a paycheck every two weeks.
• If we don’t continually drum up new business, the mortgage may not get paid
• If we have a bad month, our employees will probably feel the pinch, too.
• As such, cash-flow is a big issue.
If you want to sell to the small business owner, then these are the two pain points you have to appreciate and overcome: A lack of time and a lack of money. Often we will avoid buying until one or the other gets too acute.
Thus, the key to selling to small business is to show the owners how your product saves them time or saves them money or makes them money or frees them up. Of course there are other selling points that work, but these are usually big ones.
To learn more, I suggest reading a good book, Outfoxing the Small Business Owner, by Gene Marks.