From years of extensive research of the SMB market, it is clear that selling to this market is very different from selling into enterprise.

At DaySmart, we built our company’s success on the ability to engage and support the small- to mid-sized business (SMB) market. For 20 years, we have delivered business management tools that make it easier for entrepreneurs to run and grow their businesses. For us, the focus is on the salon, spa, pet and tattoo industries, but the things we’ve learned along the way apply universally across the SMB market – in good times and in bad.

The Coronavirus outbreak threw all industries into extremely precarious states, especially SMBs. To be successful in selling to this segment, companies must revisit the foundational best practices that apply regardless of market conditions, while layering in a sensitivity to customer circumstances amidst crisis and the ongoing uncertainty that marks this unique time. The winners will be those who help rather than haggle customers – understanding, too, that “success” will look somewhat different for the time being.

Here are eight critical insights to help you understand the mindset of SMB owners and support the buyer journey of this unique segment.

SMB Sales are Different than Enterprise Sales. Here’s What You Need to Know.

Small business owners are busy. Really busy.

Business owners are stretched in a hundred directions—whether they are negotiating loans, buying equipment, hiring and managing employees, processing payroll or taking a shift beside (or more recently in lieu of) fellow employees to get the job done. We all get busy at work, but SMB owners are busier.

These demands on their time often make it tough to grab their attention long enough to uncover their pain points and show them how your solution can solve them. At DaySmart, we have found that multi-channel communication works best because it lets SMB owners respond on the channel that works best for them in the moment.

Phone calls and email are part of the mix, but texting—a channel that is never used for enterprise sales—tops the list for SMBs. At DaySmart, our salespeople will send a simple text: “Hi, this is Sean from Salon Iris. Are you the sole proprietor of your business? Text yes or no.” The business owner is more likely to respond to a simple yes/no question, and the answer tells us exactly where to take the conversation next. We can even text them a custom quote with a sign-up link that they can access straight from their phone. This was particularly critical while retail locations were closed during the first months of the pandemic, and we couldn’t reach owners on their in-store phones.

Small business owners don’t keep regular office hours.

Small business owners don’t work 9 to 5, especially during a crisis, so if you want to connect with them, you need to extend your hours of communication. That could mean offering 24/7 support options or scheduling your salespeople in shifts so that someone is available to answer questions during the evenings when the business owner’s day starts to wind down. Our salespeople regularly text and communicate with prospects after hours to show that can be available whenever needed.

Small business owners don’t work 9 to 5, so if you want to connect with them, you need to extend your hours of communication.

They’re intimidated by technology.

Business owners often hesitate to commit to new technology because of the learning curve and the potential for things to go wrong. They don’t have the same resources that enterprises do when rolling out a new solution. Every hour a business owner or their staff has to spend learning a new system or calling support has a negative impact on revenue. If the prospect perceives your solution to be complex or require a lot of training, they won’t buy it. As a result, the most successful solutions for the SMB market aren’t those with cutting-edge functionality or the biggest feature set. They are the ones that are configured to be simple—easy to learn and easy to use.

They are very reluctant to spend.

Prior to the Coronavirus outbreak, we surveyed 700 SMB owners and 50% of them said that the fear of not making enough money kept them up at night. Money is tight – now more than ever – so any new expenditure needs to offer a clear and immediate ROI. Your sales team must learn about the business, collect the relevant facts and figures and perform a detailed cost/benefit analysis in order to convince the prospect that this is money well spent. You can ease commitment concerns by offering flexible terms, such as a penalty-free cancellation period, month-to-month contracts or waved on-boarding or set up fees.

Pitching free trials or demos can also give prospects the chance to try new things, with the goal that once they see the benefits and are able to spend again, they won’t want to work without your solutions. For those that have not yet reopened due to Coronavirus, chances are they have extra time on their hands and may be more receptive to a trial.

Small business owners want an all-in-one solution…

We have found that SMBs are motivated to find a simple solution that can handle as many facets of their business as possible. They don’t want to purchase four different solutions and have to go through the pain of integrating them in order to solve all their problems. They want one solution that does it all right out of the box. This makes it critical to communicate your broader capabilities so that business owners can visualize how your solution addresses their needs from end to end.

SMBs don’t want to purchase four different solutions to solve all their problems, they want one solution that does it all right out of the box.

…But they have ONE top pain point.

They also tend to have a single, persistent pain point that they’re highly motivated to solve in the moment. Identifying that problem area and highlighting the specific feature that addresses it closes the sale faster. For example, if a business owner wants to book more appointments but can’t hire enough people to staff the phone lines, we highlight certain widgets that enable customers to book appointments 24/7 on the website or social media. Similarly, if a business is losing money to no-shows, we focus on the reminders and confirmation features. During the quarantine, we quickly developed a feature that enabled salons to consult with customers through video conference for home hair styling instruction and tips which paved the way for revenue in the form of consultation fees.

They need onboarding to be effortless.

Onboarding is often a painful and time-consuming process, but it’s especially difficult for small businesses with few resources. SMBs don’t have special teams to facilitate software implementation or time to commit to a lengthy training course. Make the process frictionless by removing obstacles that reduce sales and lower adoption rates.

We have spent years refining and simplifying our onboarding processes. To start, we offer to import the customer’s data into the new system free of charge, followed by a core package of three one-on-one training sessions. We also offer an in-app chat function so that the user can instantly connect with a live support person at any time, along with in-app mini-training sessions that guide users through key activities step by step. DaySmart users get access to a searchable knowledge base of short, instructional videos that show how to do specific things, including preparing payroll or processing a credit-card payment. They can also take advantage of ongoing, personalized training for every new employee free of charge, saving time for the SMB owner.

Above all, SMB owners need to be able to trust you, so you need to show them that you know and understand them.

They need to be understood.

Above all, small-business owners need to be able to trust you, and that means you need to show them that you know and understand them. In today’s situation, enter conversations with the intention of building relationships. Acting with thoughtfulness and a relaxed expectation of when the sale needs to be closed will mitigate the risk of you turning prospects off to your business. Focus on fostering loyalty and forge connections that you can act on post-pandemic.

From the beginning at DaySmart, we made sure that we knew who we were selling to by collecting market research and conducting customer interviews. We used these insights to develop three personas that represent our key market segments. “Artistic Annie” is the owner of a small business with one to three employees, “Emerging Emily” has four to ten employees and “Savvy Sarah” represents the larger sized businesses with ten or more employees on staff. These personas guide our marketing and sales efforts at all times, and they influence the way we design our software, which is available in three versions that align with each persona’s needs while giving them access to the features and tools they’ll need as they grow.

Here’s the bottom line.

The rules of enterprise sales don’t apply to the SMB market. To sell to smaller businesses, you need to create sales and onboarding processes that align with the way they work. Be prepared to communicate outside of normal business hours, respond in real-time through text and chat, and make onboarding as frictionless, simple and intuitive as possible. Most importantly, take the time to know your market: if you truly empathize with them, especially in the most difficult times, they will become loyal customers who stay with you as they succeed and grow.