Cisco Canada Blog

Reaching SMB customers through virtual sales

March 25, 2021

In a year that has flipped the entire world of sales on its head, one priority has stayed the same: delivering the best customer experience possible.

We know that the best customer experiences are the ones tailor-made for a customer’s priorities and business needs, but how can we be sure we’re delivering the best experience for customers whose priorities differ, especially when selling virtually?

Different customers require different sales processes. This is especially true when you consider the size of an organization. SMB customers have different challenges and needs than large enterprises. Not only do they have fewer resources — from budget to bench strength — but the impact of this past year has made it clear SMBs have specific challenges that require specific solutions.

The growth opportunity for small and mid-sized businesses

SMBs, or small and mid-sized businesses, are typically defined by their employee size. According to the Government of Canada’s Key Small Business Statistics 2020 survey, they make up around 99.8 per cent of the businesses operating in Canada today.

Not only is there a much larger opportunity for sustainable growth, but loyal customers and growing market potential mean SMBs can be highly beneficial customers in the long-term.

A recent survey conducted by IDG on behalf of Cisco  found that most midsize organizations purchase technology directly from vendors, and their top IT purchase influencers are top management, from CEOs and CIO, to other top IT executives. This gives sellers an opportunity to leverage their techniques while speaking directly with decision-makers.

That said, SMBs often have very different needs and pain points than large enterprises, which means that as salespeople, we need to develop unique sales processes that are tailor-made for these businesses, especially in a virtual setting.

Challenging the challenges

SMBs have been hit hard by COVID-19. A report by the Canadian Federation for Independent Business showed more than 200,000 Canadian small businesses could shut their doors permanently due to the pandemic. Looking beyond that, budget, time, and more cautious decision-making when it comes to investment are challenges that need to be considered when selling virtually to SMBs.

Despite this, more than half of mid-sized businesses in Canada planned to increase software investments in order to maintain or improve operations during the pandemic, according to IDG’s research. Most midsize organizations (95 per cent) even planned to leverage one or more cloud deployment models over the next 12 months.

The switch to remote working and ease of management with remote technologies ultimately led the way for software investments in SMBs over the course of the pandemic. While vaccines are being rolled out by the minute and our return to normal is now closer than ever, the next question will be how to keep this momentum going as we transition into the next normal, which may include hybrid work, completely remote settings or a safe return to work.

Making the sale

Keeping in mind the challenges and opportunities that SMBs are facing today, here are some of the ways you can ensure that your solution and virtual selling techniques are tailored to suit the needs of your customers:

  • Keep a strong connection

Virtual selling is more than selling from a remote work environment. Long gone are the days of travel, in-office meetings and client dinners. Even emails are having their day of reckoning. Instead of adding to the inbox pile of a business owner, try sending video messages to reach out or respond to customers.

This allows the customer to see who they’re interacting with, grabs their attention, and gives virtual sellers the ability to be a bit more flexible with their messages. Instead of just responding to questions with text, sellers can deliver a quick video demo to answer the customers’ questions, allowing them to see the solution in action.

  • Think like a customer

According to IDG’s research, the top business goals over the next 12 months for SMBs are to:

  • Improve operational efficiency;
  • Increase profitability; and
  • Increase cybersecurity protections

This means that above all else, what you’re selling needs to align with these goals. Think like a customer to determine why your solution is suited for their needs.

  • Integration and implementation

Understanding how your solution will be the best fit for your customers is key. But even more important is how your customer will adopt that new technology into their business practices.

The easier your product is to integrate, the more likely the customer will be able to take advantage of your solution to save time, trim costs, increase revenue and come back for more.

As SMBs continue to look for solutions to increase revenue and improve efficiency, so will the opportunity to ensure that your solution is tailor-made for them. At Cisco’s Global Virtual Sales & Engineering (GVSE) organization, we’re always looking for ways to adapt our approach to meet the needs of both customers and our teams as virtual sales continue to evolve.

You can read more about our insights and expertise to ensure success in your virtual sales organization at the last Virtual Sales Vantage Point blog.

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