When it comes to working with small business customers, your growth and theirs are very closely intertwined. This may sound simple, but there’s much more to it than just offering a valuable product to help small businesses grow. In a market where small business customers are frequently targeted with new products and innovations, it’s more important than ever to focus on other aspects of your service – such as customer service and support – and to know exactly what your customers need. When you place enough focus on these areas, your customers are more likely to engage with you, both now and in future – and to recommend you to others. With that in mind, here are a few steps you can take towards finding long-lasting growth from your SMB customers:
Treat them like individuals
As we said in this blog, small businesses don’t buy in the same way as larger enterprises. Their buying style is much more aligned with that of individuals: not only are the majority of all small businesses microbusinesses (made up of 0-9 employees), but over three-quarters of UK and US small businesses are run by the owner alone. You might technically be working and selling B2B, but it’s likely that the process will much more closely resemble working B2C. Unlike big corporations, they aren’t supported by huge decision-making teams; when they’re faced with decisions about how to run their business, they’re generally reliant on their own knowledge and instincts. If you can offer them guidance, helping to develop their knowledge at the same time, it will be much easier to build a lasting relationship.
Help, don’t sell (unless it’s truly helpful)
Your customers’ success is your success; and, much as it would be easier, very few people ever succeed off the back of one single product. Small businesses know this, and so they’re looking for a more complete relationship with their service providers. They value good customer service, and they want to feel helped and supported as they grow their businesses. They don’t want to feel as though you are constantly trying to sell them your products; especially if they have already bought them. While selling a product is always a good marker for success, it shouldn’t be the end goal; the end goal should be a successful and profitable relationship for both parties – and not just in a financial sense.
That said, if you have a product that can truly help your customers, then of course you should point them towards this. If you’ve been offering general help and support, then customers are much more likely to trust your recommendations – even for your own products – rather than being put off by assuming you are only interested in selling to them.
Offer the right products and services
In a similar vein, you need to ensure that once they have the information they need to succeed, you can actually give your customers tools to use in conjunction with this. Really listen to what they’re saying, notice what they’re asking, and think about what would make their lives easier. If you’re saying something is essential for their business, is it something you offer? Could it be? Look at what their pain points are, and focus on helping them to tackle the root problems.
Once you’ve got a clear sense of what you want to offer, ensure that you are targeting the right customers with the right products. If you have a range of products on offer, don’t just point all your customers in the same direction; make sure you have different routes and pathways to meet different needs. There is no one approach that will work for every one of your SMB customers, so customisation is key.
Gather more data to know how to successfully cross-sell
With all of the above, your focus should extend beyond customer acquisition. Ensure that everything you’re doing is also going to help your existing small business customers to grow; and to bring you growth. Research what small businesses truly want and need: are many of them lacking something you already sell? How can you best target them? Do they respond best to direct email, social media advertising, or a different method of communication? A lot of this data can be collected easily through your existing systems, but for a more complex look at your customers’ needs, it can be worth investing in market research – or even just using existing statistics and information about the small business market in general.
As with any growth, it’s often not as linear as you might think. In the case of small businesses, it’s becoming increasingly important to think outside the box, and offer more than just great products. A lot of your competitors might also offer great products, but you can easily set yourself apart with customer service – which includes having a clear understanding of what small businesses want and need. Once you’ve got this down, it will be onwards and upwards for you and your small business customers!