Selling Enterprise Software To SMB: 5 Lessons

In my 19+ years in enterprise software I learned a lot about the differences and similarities between selling to larger businesses and selling to the SMB (small & medium-sized businesses). For the purpose of clarity, in the US a business with upto 100 employees is considered “small” and one with 100-500 employees is in the “medium” category.  Here is what I learned about selling to the SMBs:

1. Scarce IT resources: SMBs typically do not have employees with deep expertise in technologies such as relational databases, middleware, enterprise application integration etc.

LESSON: Show how easy it is to use your software and de-emphasize technical complexity and robustness.

2. Hosted solutions: Lack of IT resources and elimination of relatively large upfront license fees are some of the reasons why SMBs prefer the software as a service (SAAS) model.

LESSON: While emphasizing SAAS ensure that you address issues of data security, such as “how will you ensure that my data is safe?”

3. Process expertise: SMBs usually do not have well-defined processes for operations such as purchasing, expense reports, order management etc.

LESSON: Show how your software can help implement processes and describe how processes will save money.

4. Support: SMBs, because of their lack of IT and process resources, need support in all major areas such as networks, e-mail, security, applications functionality and business processes.

LESSON: Ensure that you understand the customer’s definition and interpretation of support.

5. Quick start: SMBs want solutions that can be used right away – 18+month implementations will not work.

LESSON: Demonstrate quick “time to value.”

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