The guys and gals up at SEO.com recently announced that they were partnering with Boostability.com to address a “hole” in their service offerings. Recognizing that up to this point the bulk of their clients had been high-level enterprise, SEO.com felt that they needed to add a service offering for locally focused, small-to-medium-sized businesses to continue growing their market share.
My initial thought was, “Good for them.”
My second thought was, “I hope they know how to successfully target local businesses’ technology needs to get the results they want from the initiative.”
I say this because one of the biggest challenges XANT has faced has been differentiating our offerings between enterprise and small-to-mid-sized businesses.
In a perfect world, we’d never have to have our sales reps working both enterprise and small business deals. We’d separate the sales team by deal size, and “big account” closers and “small account” closers wouldn’t ever have to cross channels.
The reality, however, is that sales reps often have to work both types of accounts—and in technology sales, one of the biggest mistakes reps make in this situation is that they fail to adapt to the differences in technology readiness of smaller accounts.
The problem typically reveals itself in two related ways:
- Reps consistently overestimate small business’s ability to provide high-level technical expertise.
Especially in today’s market, where many typical business services can be easily and cheaply outsourced (payroll, legal services, tech support, CRM), many small and mid-sized businesses purposefully go out of their way to avoid potentially costly IT expenses—but the rep still approaches the sale as if the prospect had their own IT department standing by to take care of their every technology whim.
- As a result of #1, reps fail to do an appropriate needs analysis, because they forget / don’t recognize how many other “touch points” their technology solution requires.
Because reps assume small businesses have access to technical expertise they don’t have, they lose sight of the fact of just how much IT infrastructure will actually be required.
For example, even something as seemingly simple as our PowerDialer system requires a correctly installed and configured phone system (which anyone in telecom will tell you can be a total crapshoot based on the type of equipment used), a PC with the right software and add-ons, a working knowledge of basic Web architecture, and a “scrappy manager” willing to mold the system to produce the best levels of results—and that’s just for a relatively basic technology that increases productivity while making outbound sales and marketing calls.
If the product or service is even more complex than that, it only exacerbates the problem.