October 7, 2011

3 Min Read
SMBs Want Customer Acquisition Ideas, Not Tech Sales Pitches

By Dan Berthiaume

Before you pitch a technology upgrade to your SMB customers, consider this: SMB owners and entrepreneurs prefer proposals that help recruit new customers and drive revenue. And remember this: SMBs are generally not too anxious to borrow money these days, according to a recent blog posting on the website of The Boston Globe. Here’s why.

A Treasury Department program designed to provide $30 billion to small banks across the country for lending to small business owners recently closed, having distributed only $4 billion of a possible $30 billion in funding. Close to nine in 10 banks which met the program’s requirements did not bother applying, citing low demand.

As stated in the blog, results seem to indicate SMBs are more focused on driving customers and revenue than in making capital investments. Is this bad news for MSPs serving the SMB market? Not necessarily, as long as MSPs keep the following three rules of doing business in this financial environment in mind.

Help SMBs Obtain and Keep Customers

A recent survey from AMI Partners shows that SMBs are increasingly interested in SaaS-based CRM, which brings formerly enterprise-level CRM functionality to smaller businesses. Obviously affordable means of obtaining and retaining customers are at the forefront of SMBs’ minds. They should be at the forefront of your mind, too. As much as possible, focus on providing solutions and services that help your SMB clients grow and maximize the ROI from their customer base.

Newer is Not Always Better

SMBs are not currently showing a huge interest in obtaining the latest, greatest technology, so don’t try to force feed it to them. A sales pitch focused on how you can provide an SMB with the latest decimal point release of a business solution, or how you can modernize an IT infrastructure that has basically served them well for many years, will likely lead to polite smiles and empty promises of follow-up phone calls.

Instead, focus on tweaks, add-ons and partial upgrades that will lead to direct improvements in customer acquisition and retention. Perhaps a piece of middleware will better tie a customer database to other corporate systems, or implementing one piece of software from the latest version of an entire suite will solve a specific problem. Provide quality over quantity and look for higher sales volume to help make up the difference in profits caused by lower revenue per sale.

Keep It Cost Effective

As a follow-up to the last piece of advice offered above, MSPs must realize their clients are mostly not interested in obtaining a bank loan or other types of financing to fund IT projects. Thus you must find a way to make your projects affordable to your clients using the funds they have on hand. Keep it cheap, which can include offering installment plans and other creative pricing options as well as reducing the scale of your IT implementations and upgrades. Remember, MSPs as well as SMBs need to focus on finding and keeping customers in order to drive revenue.


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