SMB Sales Strategy: How to Sell to SMB Customers in 2024

When the average person imagines a sales rep, what do they picture? Maybe the classic door-to-door salesperson peddling snake oil, or a pushy used-car-lot nightmare, or a business suit sitting on the other end of the phone line, rolling their eyes and filing their nails as they rattle off a canned pitch.

What do these have in common? Easy: The snooze-inducing boredom (or suspicious enthusiasm) of their approaches. If your SMB sales strategies look anything like the above, it’s time to shake things up.

Let’s start with a disclaimer: The small and medium-sized business sales cycle comes with some serious pain points. As in, pain points for you.

Why? You’re selling to companies with less robust business structures, so they haven’t yet decided if they need you. They also have smaller budgets, so pricing becomes a serious issue. Or, they simply lack a line item in their budget for services like yours—even if they really do need you.

This is why tailor-made messaging is so important to your SMB sales process. It allows you to focus on value rather than price in your pitches, emails, and other points of contact. This in turn takes the focus off money and puts it back where it belongs: how your products and services can solve their problems.

Today we’ll look at SMB sales strategies and discuss how companies can profit from their SMB customers in 2024.

What is SMB Sales?

The acronym “SMB” refers to “small and medium-sized business,” which describes the majority of companies in the United States and around the world. These organizations are often startups or mom-and-pop establishments with less than 500 employees.

Their size influences their needs, whom they serve, and how they view the business world.

In general, SMB sales are very different from enterprise sales. SMBs have unique pain points and different requirements when compared with larger companies. The ideal customer will also be different. On the plus side, B2B sales for small businesses tend to involve shorter sales cycles—which is good news for you and your results.

In SMB sales, it’s easier for salespeople to make a personal connection and get to the decision-makers quickly. Fewer people at the company equals faster access.

Overall, SMBs make very lucrative customers. If you don’t yet prioritize them, you should. Here’s how.

How to Create a Sales Strategy to Target SMB Customers

So, you like the idea of sales strategies for SMB customers. Now you need some tried-and-true sales techniques that will improve your profits and ease your workflow. Here you go.

Ensure Your Leads Fit Into Your ICP

An ideal customer profile (ICP) is an important way in which sales professionals determine who they want to sell to.

You must base your customer profile—the portrait of a business you want to land as a customer—on fact (just the facts, ma’am). You can gather this information from either your own case studies or by doing market outreach. Ask questions like:

  • Who buys these products or services?
  • What are their basic demographics?
  • What are their challenges or pain points?
  • What problems can I solve for them?
  • What will their objections be?
  • What does that mean for their customer journey?

Answering these questions allows you to plan the correct type of outreach and follow up, so you can reach them effectively.

Note the word “ideal” in “ideal customer profile”. Your ideal customer is the absolute perfect business for your product or service—or one of them, if you have multiple products and services. It’s okay if nothing in real life conforms to your ideal; the goal is just to know what that ideal company looks like, so you can create strategies based on it.

Clearly Define Customer Personas

Once you know what your ideal company looks like, it’s time to determine to whom at that company you want to market your products and services. Enter the customer persona, or the nearly-real people who could benefit from your offerings.

A persona is a fictional version of your ideal customer profile, personified. Give your typical buyers (i.e., personas) a name. Maybe your “Soccer Mom” persona is Cathryn, and your “Marketing Professional” persona is Bob. List who they are, what they do, what they need, what they struggle with, and so forth. Make it as specific as possible.

For instance, let’s say you offer SaaS for marketing professionals, as we do at Close. One of your customer personas might read as follows:

Bob Chaudhury

  • Age: 35
  • Education: MS from Smartypants U
  • Role: VP Marketing, SMB Inc.

Description: Bob is responsible for overseeing all marketing activities at his company. Everyone on his small team reports directly to him, so he has to understand the nuances of social media, content marketing, ad spend, and sales outreach, as well as how they work together.

Pain Points: It’s a big job, so Bob works 50-60 hours a week. Because of this, he’s losing track of all of it and facing burnout. He needs a solution to integrate all his marketing activities under one umbrella, so he can see what everyone is doing at any given time, and how each lead or prospect fits into the bigger picture.

Pro tip: If you prefer, you can give your customers a silly name instead of a real one. “Busy Bob” is just as burnt out as Bob Chaudhury, but he’s a little more fun about it.

Simplify Your Sales Pitch

The next step in smart sales management for SMBs is to really cut down that pitch. Because you reach decision makers faster, there’s less hemming and hawing. That’s good for you and your sales goals if you play your cards right.

Simplify Your Sales Pitch

With a shorter sales cycle, you should plan on your sales pitch and every stage of the journey being shorter as well. That means maintaining your friendly disposition while still being direct and to the point, letting your prospect know exactly what you do, how you do it, and why it will benefit them.

Give Your Customer Peace of Mind

Two of the most important ingredients in customer success are satisfaction and the feeling of safety. If you can provide customers with peace of mind, then you will garner better testimonials, see higher results across all your KPIs, and lead a happier sales team.

So, how do you do that? By ensuring you have a customer relationship management system (CRM) that takes care of them beyond the purchase stage. It’s not enough to track your sales and marketing efforts; you need to provide excellent customer service as well.

Look for a CRM that backs up great marketing and sales activities with an excellent customer service platform. That way, you’ll get more of those reviews and referrals that are so critical to successful SMB sales.

Want to maximize your sales efforts? Learn how Challenger Sales can make a difference.

3 Brands Succeeding with SMB Sales

When you haven’t yet seen the success you want, victory can be hard to picture. Yet there are many examples of brands that have made SMB sales their bread and butter, and who are serving their customers with the highly customized services they need.

Here are just a few.

1. Apple

The Apple logo remains one of the most recognizable on the planet. While it didn’t debut the world’s first personal computer, it has nevertheless achieved legendary status in the personal computing arena.

Today, Apple is a mainstay for many SMB customers, especially those in the graphic arts or multimedia spaces. While it certainly offers solutions for Fortune 500 companies, there probably isn’t a single SMB in the world that doesn’t feel welcome to its entire product line. Why? Apple’s agility in serving businesses of every size.

2. Xerox

Yes, Xerox is still around. Just because most people are going paperless doesn’t mean that Xerox has lost its elevated position in the SMB world.

A tech-savvy firm from the beginning, Xerox has pivoted to include scanning, WiFi services, digital printing, art printing, and more. They have also neatly transitioned into the home office space to accommodate the people who work from home in telecommuting positions or as solopreneurs.

3. Close

Here at Close, our goal is to give customers the CRM services they need without the extra fees, difficult integrations, or unnecessary add-ons. It’s important to us that customers feel valued regardless of their size, which is why our monthly subscription service for small teams is just as robust as the one for large enterprise companies.

Close SMB Sales

Because of this, Close has built a solid reputation among companies large, small, and everything in between. And while we work with big brand names like Makespace and Naturebox, we also work with tons of smaller companies whose streamlined workflows promote good profits and simple scaling.

Is Selling to SMBs Worthwhile?

So, is it worth targeting small businesses, or is it better to focus on larger companies? This is a question that many sales teams are asking. However, the question is based on the fallacy that you have to limit yourself when choosing who to sell to.

See, many companies make the mistake of thinking that SMBs are too small to bother with. They don’t consider the benefits that come with selling to SMBs compared to large enterprise companies. These include:

  • SMBs often have shorter sales cycles: Because the average SMB owner bases their decision-making on the opinions of only a few others (or just their own), and because they don’t think in 5- or 10-year increments like a large company, the sales cycle tends to be shorter. This means faster results for you.
  • There’s less red tape: At small businesses, it’s much easier to reach the stakeholders. There are probably fewer rules, legal reviews, and longstanding loyalties to other providers. Your sales tactics can focus largely on the value provided rather than overcoming the huge hurdles that exist with large companies.
  • It’s easier to target business owners or decision-makers: Do you know the expression “too many cooks in the kitchen”? Whenever a decision needs to be juried, you’re going to wait longer and strike out more often. With SMBs, it’s easier to get to the decision-maker, spend time with them, answer their questions, and move them through the funnel—no committees necessary.
  • The large amount of SMBs allows for easier lead generation: The excuse for focusing on large businesses is often one of cash flow. SMBs simply don’t generate enough income, right? Remember: There are benefits to faster sales cycles and spending less time convincing large groups of decision-makers. If you learn to be speedy with SMB sales, you won’t need nearly as many—or any—enterprise deals in order to succeed.

Optimize Your SMB Sales Strategy

If you don’t have a sales strategy for SMB leads, now is the time to create one. The sheer number of small and medium-sized businesses, combined with the lack of red tape, means that these organizations are ripe for the picking. So grab your bushel basket and get to it!

Here’s one key to success: Make sure you bring a reliable CRM with you. Without a customer relationship management system, you risk losing track of critical contact information and relevant details that can help you close more deals.

Plus, the automation tools available through a robust CRM make selling easier than ever. Spend less time thinking and more time doing, from first touchpoint to final sale. Looking for an awesome CRM solution? Close is the trusted partner of thousands of sales reps who work with SMB businesses, and we’d love to show you what we can do. Sign up for a free 14-day trial and take your SMB sales to the next level.

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