The SMB marketplace is full of question marks and dead ends. If that is the space where your company lives and plays, more is involved in your discovery process than churning and burning your way through leads lists.
Your discovery process targets organizational competency.
The SMB marketplace is full of companies with incompletely developed business models and strategies, particularly when it comes to IT (information technology). The SMB marketplace is comprised of companies with underdeveloped leadership and workforce skill sets, as well.
Your first step in the Discovery Process isn’t about determining whether there is a fit for your products and services. You will always find a reason to justify fit.
Enigmatic SMB buyers are good at talking the talk. Unfortunately, SMB sellers don’t discover there is lack of organizational competency until the sales process is too far down the road to withdraw. Slow yourself down during discovery. In fact, make your discovery process a continuous discovery process.
Your discovery process should resemble an archeological dig. Is the SMB leader qualified to be a leader? Are the personnel on board qualified to perform their job functions? How does this business win contracts? Is the entire SMB team fully engaged in winning contracts? If not, who is?
Save yourselves some SMB angst. Your discovery process is all about disqualifying your enigmatic SMB buyer as a legitimate prospect. Early and often.
Discover whether your enigmatic SMB buyers have “a guy.”
This discovery step isn’t about unseating an incumbent. It is all about determining whether “the guy” that enigmatic SMB buyers do business with has been with them since the beginning of time.
Diplomatically determine how competent “the guy”(or gal) really is. How long has your SMB buyer been doing business with “their guy?” I’ve done business with SMB companies who have a “marketing guy” left over from the original casting call for “Mad Men.” I focus on discovering the longevity of the relationship and the respective generations of “the guy” and the person serving as marketing director. I factor in whether updating the company website and adding a rock-star social selling strategy is going to fall on uncomprehending, out-of-touch, untechnical ears or not.
Then factor in this given: your enigmatic SMB buyers are extremely loyal to “their guy.” You see, by unseating “the guy” due to lack of competency, you are exposing the SMB buyer’s lack of competency as well. They both helped each other over the years.
Avoid going down that rabbit hole.
Enigmatic SMB buyers have a la carte purchase mindset.
The enigmatic SMB buyer’s mindset often resembles ordering a la carte off a sushi restaurant menu. A bit of this, a bit of that. There’s no integrated game plan for how these types of buyers buy the stuff they buy.
These enigmatic SMB buyers don’t buy into anything: they dabble. They sample. They have small budgets against which they want to accomplish big results. They typically do not give your products, platforms and programs enough time to work. Enigmatic SMB buyers with a la carte mindset cancel contracts and programs prematurely, before these programs ever have time to deliver return on investment (ROI).
Is your channel sales team targeting this type of SMB buyer indiscriminately? If so, your team is focusing time and resources on the definition of low-hanging fruit. Your sellers constantly will be replacing contracts cancelled after the first 12 months.
When it comes to selling IT products, platforms and solutions, the enigmatic SMB buyer will purchase IT solutions, particularly upgrades, on an as-needed basis or if need is dictated by crisis rather than proactivity and strategy. As a result, IT infrastructure can be worse than ordering off that sushi restaurant menu. You are implementing an IT solution into a messy garage full of incompatible, incomplete and unscalable prior IT purchases.
Have you participated in this type of selling scenario?
Become experts at highly targeted, always enigmatic SMB buyers.
Your channel sales team can continue to sell the way you’ve always been selling: at the entire SMB marketplace. However, tomorrow’s channel team sales strategy focuses on becoming extremely familiar with specific and eternally enigmatic SMB buyer personas.
Educate them so they can enhance their level of organizational competency.
Target becoming the go-to resource for your enigmatic SMB clients over the long haul. It will take a bit more psychology and patience than you are used to applying towards your sales efforts. However, by placing affordable and scalable solutions, your channel sales team can make a big impact, bit by bit, on the sustainability of the SMB marketplace as a whole.
The choice is yours.
Babette N. Ten Haken is a strategist, analyst, author and blogger. Her Workshops target excellence in the execution of strategy. Babette began her career in clinical research where she was asked to bring clarity to stalemated cross-functional conversations. Her Playbook of collaboration hacks, Do YOU Mean Business? is available on Amazon.com.