by Lauren Ford, Square 9 Softworks
It’s time to get serious about your small and medium sized business (SMB) customers. You closed the initial sale – great – but it shouldn’t end there. SMB customers are frequently looking for that differentiator that will allow them to compete in a larger marketplace. Providing continuous support to SMB purchasers will have a tremendous impact on their overall business strategy, while encouraging additional sales opportunities for your company. By helping the SMB customer find ways to operate more efficiently, they can free up resources that will provide them with the edge they’re looking for. To maximize success in the SMB market, consider the following four areas of support:
Grow With the SMB Customer: The use of document technology has helped to level the playing field between SMB and enterprise organizations. Have you considered adding a solutions suite to your portfolio that will evolve with the SMB customer as they continue to grow? Document management software does just that. But deciding on the right one? Well, that takes a little more consideration. You’ll want to offer your customers a product that will always be fresh; a solution that will provide multiple updates and new feature functionality every year. This allows your SMB customer to gain your trust, keeping them ahead of the technology curve. With a scalable solution in place, the SMB customer can handle a growing amount of work in a capable manner without bulky installs or drastic changes to their existing implementation. Integration capabilities are also a plus, as they accommodate an SMB customer’s current business environment. Additionally, the scalable sales model allows customers the flexibility to add on purchases as needed, so there’s always an opportunity for additional sales. In a smaller market, businesses need to better address specific needs as they arise. Replace solutions that only larger organizations could cost justify with a product that can scale to any size.
Deliver an Educational Experience: The ultimate goal of the SMB customer is gaining a significant return on investment. The fastest way to recognizing ROI with a software investment is through customer training. To create real business outcomes (and ultimately business return) you need to provide training that your customers will find value in. You’ll need to identify the right kind of training, addressing the needs of not just your customer’s company, but the individual user. Look for online training and on-premise options, encouraging customers to attend. Training has the power to impact your customer’s business development in a positive way, so position it that way! Gaining these new skills that are crucial to success in their specific role provides credentials that set them apart in their industry. You’re not just teaching features; you’re providing the knowledge that will arm your customers with success. Creating a feedback channel between you and your customers will enable you to keep them at the forefront of every new product deployment. Attend a course yourself. Be the success story. Show your customer the outcomes from attending training from the initial stages of learner satisfaction through knowledge improvement, behavior changes and final results.
Take Care of the Technical Side: In a recent CompTIA report, more than 28 percent of small businesses and 43 percent of midmarket businesses have become more dependent on technology in the last 12 months. SMBs are more apt to explore technology that will give them new capabilities. Just like larger companies, SMBs are interested in deploying innovative technology products, such as mobile, cloud, and analytics to improve customer success. But let’s face it, while the SMB market is more inclined than ever to use information technology, most are not prepared to deal with today’s complex and rapidly changing IT landscape. They simply lack the vast IT teams of their enterprise level competitors. This lack of expertise is actually great news for you. It presents the opportunity to work with your SMB customers and provide them with the technical support they need. In the VAR channel, the best way to compete with IT consultants is to become more focused on business outcomes, rather than functionality optimization. With that said, today more SMBs go to channel partners for IT support, based on the quality of services they provide and their understanding of business. Resources are limited in an SMB scenario, so if a customer can invest in your business for technical support that would have otherwise required a back-office hire, it frees up resources for revenue-generating activities.
Work on Your Website: As sales move to digital, interaction costs are lowered – critical for winning in the SMB market. To harness the power of digital, companies need to optimize their sites to deliver value and profits across three key phases of the decision journey. The website is particularly important because so many SMB buyers like to research and make final decisions on their own. Many want to decide how and what to buy, prior to any engagement. So why not make it easy for them? Provide robust search capabilities, easy site navigation, and the benefit-rich content they need to decide if your solution is right for them. It’s best to leave feature heavy content for the demo stage. Don’t ignore social media, either. Facebook, LinkedIn and other sites have large communities of users who are able to quickly offer up a point of view that is effective in shaping a small business owner’s decisions. Your company needs to build its website in a way that makes it easy for customers to connect to these communities and search for product information. Once the customer has purchased your product or service, the website continues to play a powerful role in supporting them. Features such as self-service support, online user groups and technical tip videos enhance the value of the product. These can be powerful tools for keeping that customer coming back. Your website needs to sit at the center of your multichannel strategy if you want to remain relevant to your SMB customers and capitalize on future opportunities.
The SMB sector is the key growth area for many service providers. In today’s digital world, you won’t be competing on price alone, but on good customer experience and innovative product offerings. To differentiate against competitors, you’ll need to identify ways to deliver a more compelling experience to SMB customers. Start at the very beginning of the sales funnel and provide guided and interactive support throughout the entire process. This is the best strategy for profitable growth.
Contributor: Lauren Ford, Square 9 Softworks, www.square-9.com
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of The Imaging Channel.