The secret to success in targeting the SMB market

The secret to success in targeting the SMB market

Local Insight

Focus. Yep, that's the answer - one simple word. You're probably rolling your eyes and saying 'of course'. But for many technology vendors and service providers it is easier said than done. They have either historically focused on the enterprise market and are looking for other revenue streams, or have targeted the small to medium business (SMB) and enterprise market together, with a bit more emphasis on the larger organisations. Either way, the SMB market is where they know they need (and want) to play but other market segments divert their attention.

So what do you need to do differently? Although not an exhaustive list, here are some things to think about and put into action:

1. Gain commitment from CxO level - To be focused on the SMB market will require some level of investment and you need to be prepared to do so. IT and the business are more closely aligned in SMBs than they are in larger enterprises.

2. Organise yourself internally - Every sales and service delivery person wants to be part of something big - hence the focus on enterprise accounts. The sales and delivery teams need to be either separated into two groups (enterprise and SMB) or be invented in a way to support the smallest and largest of accounts. Also, there needs to be a client relationship team to support your most valued SMBs. And this means current spend as well as future spend.

3. Do market segmentation - Not all SMBs are the same; you have to do proper market segmentation. Targeting the SMB market does not just mean bundling all businesses below a certain number of employees.

4. Ensure the solution is user-friendly - this does not mean simple in functionality, but for an organisation that is already resourced constrained, the solution has to be easy to use and manage. The best SMB solutions are not those that were designed for the enterprise market and scaled back but those built bottomup specifically for the SMB market.

5. Identify what business problem you are solving - selling to SMBs tends to be more of a business sell than a technical one simply because the CxO is involved more in IT decisions than in larger enterprises. Therefore, your sales team needs to be prepared to talk in business and technical terms.

Targeting the SMB market requires more than just a press release: You have to be 'focused' from many different angles - internal organisation, solution and market messaging. I have removed the 'go-to-market' strategy from this discussion because depending on your business model and strategy, this may mean a direct or indirect model. Both are viable options. SMBs prefer both channels and preferences change by the type of solutions (for example, hardware versus software).

SMBs want to know they are an important part of your business - regardless of whether you are a large multinational vendor or a local small VAR. This means providing a high-touch relationship, providing insights into technology roadmaps, keeping some level of consistency with sales associates, and staying in touch. The same customer loyalty you may have built with enterprise accounts needs to be established in all accounts regardless of size.

So, how focused is your business?

Michele Caminos is research vice-president at Gartner.

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