This Week’s Big Deal: Selling as a Small Business

September 30, 2019

Small Business Meeting in Office

In Major League Baseball’s postseason, we often see narratives that reflect the classic “David versus Goliath” face-off. You’ve got your free-spending big-market clubs with their virtually infinite resources (e.g., New York and Los Angeles), and then you’ve got your “little guys” — the smaller-market teams operating at a financial disadvantage (e.g., Oakland and Tampa Bay). 

In order to level the playing field, baseball’s underdogs often try to develop their own advantages, offsetting budget and personnel disparities. The book (and movie) Moneyball famously chronicled the innovative methods developed by Athletics general manager Billy Beane, who capitalized on market inefficiencies to turn his humble team into a legitimate contender in the early 2000s.

Small businesses and startups can be likened to a small-market baseball team. You might not have the resources of an enterprise company or larger competitor, but you’re also nimble and hungry. Here’s where you can find your edge.

Smart Tactics for Boosting Small Business Sales

In comparison with their larger counterparts, small businesses are often quicker to embrace and enact change. The challenges of scale are not as pervasive. As such, these opportunities stand out. 

Align with the Next Generation

As millennials come to account for more and more of the workforce, B2B buyer preferences are evolving. By aligning with them, you place your business in a great position to move forward.

In her recent post on the 6 New Rules of B2B Sales at SmallBizDaily, Rieva Lesonsky points out that nearly half of B2B technology buyers are between 25 and 34 years old. “Millennials have grown up with technology and they conduct the B2B buying process differently than older generations,” she writes. “They expect to purchase B2B products and services the way they shop for anything else: by going online, doing research and getting input from their peers.”

Many large, established organizations are mired in legacy sales processes that don’t quite jibe with today’s marketplace. Direct your strategy toward the new era.  

Adopt Modern Selling Principles

This goes hand-in-hand with the previous item. One key characteristic of the digital native generation is that they (unsurprisingly) spend more time online, and on social media. In her article, Lesonsky also cites a Forrester study predicting that by next year, 55% of buyers will research half or more of their business purchases online. 

A more recent report from Forrester notes that “savvy sellers who effectively engage on social networks are seeing meaningful results. These modern sellers create 45% more opportunities and are 51% more likely to achieve quota than those who do not embrace social.” 

Leaner sales teams can generally implement a modern selling program more quickly and comprehensively than, say, an enterprise with thousands of distributed sales reps and layers of management. 

“When sales leaders think about shifting their current strategy from a traditional sales approach to modern selling methods, they are hesitant because of the size of their organization,” wrote Vengreso’s Chief Sales Officer Kurt Shaver last week when discussing the Benefits of Social Selling Training to Improve B2B Sales. “These sales leaders doubt their sellers will fully accept new techniques and they fear that they will only create chaos. They’d rather maintain the status quo then try to improve.”

As an up-and-coming small business, you can make a new approach your status quo. And as Shaver suggests, up-front training will help imprint these techniques as the norm. 

Focus on Word-of-Mouth and Referrals

You might not have as many sales reps as a larger company. So why not enlist your best customers to help you sell?

A big part of a modern selling approach is the heightened focus on relationships, even after (or in the absence of) a sale. With today’s buyers relying more than ever on their own research and peer recommendations, it’s never been more valuable to have satisfied clients and customers singing your praises in their own circles. 

The best way to elicit these recommendations is, of course, to deliver great service. But there are additional techniques for prompting referrals, such as reverse-engineering warm introductions, being transparent, and minimizing the ask. 

Welcome and Leverage Feedback

Ultimately, no one can guide your sales strategy and processes better than the people on the other end. When your organization is still relatively small and nimble, you can more easily adapt and make adjustments based on customer input. So make it easy — and encouraged — for them to provide it. 

A newly released study from Ascend2 titled Strategies, Tactics And Trends For Customer Experience identified customer feedback collection as the No. 1 most effective tactic for improving customer experiences.

Combat the Status Quo and Grow

As Billy Beane said in Moneyball, “No matter how successful you are, change is always good. There can never be a status quo.” Sales teams that recognize the validity of this statement are leading the way, while those mired in outdated practices fall behind. 

Small businesses might find it easier and more frictionless to embrace the shifts mentioned above, but that doesn’t mean that even the largest of organizations should not be working toward covering all their bases. 

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