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What is SMB Sales? Key Differences and How to Succeed in the SMB Market

RepVue Editorial Team
RepVue Editorial TeamDec 13, 2023

SMB stands for Small and Medium-sized Businesses, which make up the majority of businesses in the world. These businesses have unique needs, and if you want to sell to them, you need to know what they are looking for.

SMB sales are different from enterprise sales. They require a different approach, different tactics, and a different mindset. The ideal solution for an SMB can also be significantly different from enterprise companies. On the plus side, B2B sales for small businesses tend to involve shorter sales cycles.

To be successful in SMB sales, you need to understand what small businesses are looking for. You need to be able to communicate with them effectively, understand their needs, and provide them with the solutions they need. 

Let’s take a closer look at what SMB sales are, how they differ from enterprise sales, and what you need to do to be successful in this space.

Understanding SMB Sales

Definition of SMB

SMB stands for Small and Medium-sized Businesses. These are companies that have fewer employees and generate less revenue compared to larger enterprises. One common definition for SMBs is companies that have fewer than 500 employees and generate less than $50 million in annual revenue. However, there is no universally accepted definition of SMB, and the definition may vary by industry and region.

Importance of SMB Sales

SMBs are an essential market segment that should not be overlooked. They account for a significant portion of the economy and offer a vast opportunity to increase revenue and market share. SMBs represent 99% of all businesses in the United States and generate 44% of the country’s economic activity. In addition, SMBs are more agile and can make decisions faster than larger enterprises, making them an attractive market for salespeople.

SMB sales require a specific set of skills and strategies. Successful SMB salespeople focus on making their pitches easy to understand, building personal relationships with SMB customers, and understanding their mindsets. They also respect the owner’s limited time and make their lives easier by providing solutions that address their pain points.

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SMB Sales Vs. Enterprise Sales

If you’re new to sales, you might wonder what the difference is between SMB sales and enterprise sales. While both types of sales involve selling products or services to businesses, there are some key differences to be aware of.

Similarities

Both SMB and enterprise sales involve selling to businesses, rather than individual consumers. This means that you’ll be dealing with decision-makers who are looking to make purchases on behalf of their companies.

Additionally, both types of sales require a strong understanding of the products or services being sold, as well as the needs of the customer. In order to be successful in either SMB or enterprise sales, you’ll need to be able to communicate effectively with your customers and build strong relationships with them.

Differences

By definition, the first difference between SMB and enterprise sales is the size of the companies you’ll be selling to. 

As a result, the sales cycle for enterprise sales is usually longer than for SMB sales. Enterprise customers often require more time to make purchasing decisions, as there are more stakeholders involved in the process.  This will have a huge impact on your success, since sales cycle length is a key factor in determining how many deals you can close in a given quarter.

SMB sales often have fewer hurdles that the salesperson is required to manage in order to close a deal. Enterprise deals often require extra steps, such as an ROI approval from finance or a CFO; going through procurement after you get a verbal from the business decision-maker; legal redlines; and compliance/security checks from IT. All of these steps can add weeks or even months to the sales cycle. For some enterprise deals you might get a verbal “yes”—- but still have six months of work ahead of you to get the actual contract signed.

Another key difference is the level of customization involved in the sales process. Enterprise customers often require more customization than SMB customers, as they have more complex needs and requirements.

Finally, the sales approach for SMB and enterprise sales can differ as well. In many cases the decision maker in SMB sales is one or two people. Oftentimes this is the founder/leader of the company. Whereas in enterprise sales deals, you’ll often have a key contact (sometimes called a “Champion”) who is driving the decision, but can’t make a buying decision on their own.  Instead that person will essentially need to sell the product internally to a set of stakeholders in many different departments. In addition, enterprise sales will sometimes follow a regimented buying process (including Requests for Proposals or RFPs) requiring specific approvals that can be subject to an annual budgeting cycle. 

Understanding these differences is key to setting yourself up for success. Oftentimes, a successful SMB AE will seek out an enterprise role as a next step. It’s true that on average enterprise roles will have a higher OTE. But make sure that you understand how the roles differ at that org before you make your move. It’s not uncommon that continuing to exceed quota as an SMB AE might be the more lucrative career choice.

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SMB Sales Strategies

If you want to succeed in SMB sales, you need to have a solid strategy. Here are three key strategies that can help you build relationships, sell solutions, and leverage technology to close more deals.

Building Relationships

Building relationships is a crucial part of SMB sales. SMB owners often prefer to work with people they trust and have a good rapport with. To build relationships with SMB owners, you need to be personable, attentive, and responsive.

One way to build relationships is to take the time to understand your client’s business and their needs. This can help you tailor your approach to their specific situation and show that you are invested in their success. Additionally, you should always be available to answer questions and provide support when needed.

Solution Selling

SMB owners are often looking for solutions to specific problems they are facing. As a salesperson, your job is to provide solutions that meet their needs. This is where solution selling comes in.

Solution selling involves identifying the specific problems your client is facing and framing the benefits of your product as a solution to those problems.. To do this effectively, you need to be a good listener and ask the right questions. You should also be knowledgeable about your product or service and how it can help your client.

Qualifying (and Disqualifying) Prospects

One of the most critical skills that great sellers have is the ability to discern between a prospect who is a good fit from one who isn’t. Many reps suffer from a false optimism when it comes to prospect conversations. They look for any indication that a prospect might be willing to buy,  instead of probing for reasons why they might not. 

This may seem counter-intuitive.  Why would you want to disqualify a potential buyer? The reason is that no product is a fit for every customer — and time you spend trying to shoehorn your solution onto a prospect for whom it isn’t really a fit is time not spent on a deal that can actually close and help you hit your number

Leveraging Technology

Technology can be a powerful tool for SMB salespeople. It can help you automate tasks, streamline processes, and stay organized. However, it’s important to use technology strategically to avoid overwhelming your clients or coming across as impersonal.

One way to leverage technology is to use a CRM system to manage your client relationships. This can help you keep track of important information, such as contact details, communication history, and sales opportunities. Additionally, you can use email marketing tools to send personalized messages to your clients and keep them engaged with your brand.

By building relationships, selling solutions, and leveraging technology, you can create a winning SMB sales strategy that helps you close more deals and grow your business.

Challenges in SMB Sales

Selling to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) can be a challenging task. Some common challenges you might face while selling to SMBs can include:

Limited Resources

One of the biggest challenges in SMB sales is that these businesses often have limited resources. They may not have a large budget for purchasing new products or services, or they may not have a dedicated sales team. As a result, you may need to be creative in your approach and find ways to work within their budget constraints.

Intense Competition

Another challenge in SMB sales is the intense competition. SMBs are often bombarded with sales pitches from various vendors, and it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd. You need to find a way to differentiate yourself from your competitors and show why your product or service is the best fit for their business.

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Navigating Decision-Makers

SMBs typically have fewer decision-makers than larger enterprises, but that doesn’t necessarily make the sales process easier. In fact, it can be more challenging to navigate the decision-making process in SMBs because the decision-makers may wear multiple hats and have limited time to devote to the sales process. You need to identify the key decision-makers and find a way to communicate the value of your product or service in a concise and compelling way.

In summary, selling to SMBs can be challenging due to limited resources, intense competition, and navigating decision-makers. However, by understanding these challenges and adapting your approach, you can increase your chances of success in SMB sales.

Best Practices in SMB Sales

When it comes to SMB sales, there are a few best practices that can help you succeed. By tailoring your approach to each customer, focusing on customer retention, and continuously training and developing sales skills, you can close more dealsand hit your sales targets.

Tailored Sales Approach

One of the most important best practices in SMB sales is to tailor your approach to each customer. SMBs have unique needs and challenges, and by taking the time to understand each customer’s specific situation, you can provide more effective solutions. This means doing your research, asking the right questions, and listening carefully to their answers. By doing so, you can build trust and establish a long-term relationship with your customers.

Customer Retention Focus

Another key best practice in SMB sales is to focus on customer retention. While it’s important to acquire new customers, it’s even more important to keep your existing ones. This means providing exceptional customer service, being responsive to their needs, and going above and beyond to solve their problems. By doing so, you can build loyalty and turn your customers into advocates for your brand.

Continuous Training and Development

Finally, a critical best practice in SMB sales is continuous training and development. Sales is a dynamic field, and it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends, techniques, and technologies. This means ongoing training, coaching, and feedback, as well as seek out your own professional development opportunities.  If your current sales org does not invest in your training and development, you should check out these sales orgs that do.

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