According to Zinnov Research, there were 28 million SMBs in the United States in 2013. By the year 2020, these companies are poised to grow their current revenue of $2.1 trillion by $575 billion and employ 23 million more people, for a total of 78 million. Clearly, a smart salesperson could do well by selling more effectively to this growing market segment via today's social selling tools.
Ironically, the fallacy remains that selling to SMBs is no different from selling to the enterprise. Several factors prove otherwise. SMB buyers rely more on social media than their enterprise peers do. Ivy Worldwide found that word-of-mouth referrals were the main source of SMB purchase decisions, with blogs and forums accounting for 34 percent of those referrals and third-party reviews for another 35 percent. And the same study found that 75 percent of SMBs feel that they are not effectively marketed to by the companies that target them.
So why are salespeople still generally relying on traditional methods to sell to SMBs? In this age of hyper awareness and information overload, the problem has, surprisingly, been a lack of data. The challenge until now has been unearthing SMB triggers from the glut that is the Internet information superhighway. At a time when publications are cutting budgets and reporters, stories on anyone except the biggest players are often left at the side of the road. Simply put, Google Alerts won't get you what you need.
So how can salespeople effectively reach SMBs like never before? The answer is obvious, but until recent technological breakthroughs impossible: discovering opportunity-creating news events, known in the industry as sales triggers.
According to the B2B Lead blog, "a trigger is a happening associated with a consequence so significant that it causes new behaviors, new ideas, and new opportunities." One of the blog author's clients found that when he contacted companies after finding key trigger events, they were 400 percent more likely to buy.
With today's powerful artificial intelligence and big data analysis tools, salespeople can track what they really need to be following: a vast range of information sources including company blogs, SEC filings, and social media profiles. With this information, sales professionals have a compelling reason to call and a higher probability of closing the business. At the same time, these technologies are allowing them to cut down research time and improve sales productivity. If your research is automated, you can effectively track thousands of SMBs simultaneously, only reaching out when your solution intelligently shows you a real-time sales trigger that will serve as a catalyst for a sale.
So, when pitching SMBs, forget email lists, cut through the information glut, and find powerful triggers. The technology you need is out there. And just as if you were reaching out to a Fortune 500 company, use this real-time data to develop pitches that are compelling, engaging, and relevant. As Forrester has said, if you reach a prospect first and engage in a consultative manner, you have a 74 percent chance of closing the deal. And with SMBs, you can count on a quicker sales cycle as well.
Social selling isn't about having more LinkedIn contacts; it's about knowing more before anyone else and having the right timing when contacting them. And this kind of real-time information is appreciated by any buyer, be it an enterprise CEO or a sole proprietor.
Richard Dym is the chief marketing officer at Gagein. He has 25 years of private and public company experience marketing SaaS and cloud products and services to SMBs and enterprises worldwide.