There are currently 500 million small businesses around the world, and new ones are being born every second with the bulk including: restaurants, cafés, professional firms, real estate companies, health and fitness centers, and more.
If you can reliably sell to small businesses, your enterprise has unlimited potential. The tips below will help you figure out how to do it.
1. Get Feedback from Day One
Get feedback from small business prospects early and often. If you’re a developer, you probably haven’t run a brick-and-mortar local business. Your armchair ideas, while they may be visionary, need the influence and grounding of concrete feedback from actual buyers.
You have to go out to the businesses and strike up conversations. A lot of them. If they seem interested before you finish your pitch, you’re on the right track.
For example, if you’re building a mobile app for restaurants, go by some actual restaurants and see what type of phones the owners use. Don’t simply assume that all restaurant owners have the newest iPhone 5 and all the latest apps.
2. Solve a very specific problem
You need to find something well defined that is a huge pain to small business owners, and then solve it. Put yourself in their shoes. If you can do one thing very well, you’re way ahead of competitors that do many things “sort of adequately.”
3. Be willing to hand-hold
The average small business owner is notoriously tech-illiterate. Your solutions have to be simple, and you have to be ready to do things automatically, or provide clear, brief, step-by-step instructions.
Small business owners want you to do things for them.
4. Deliver real value
If you can’t show, with the utmost clarity, how money that your customers give to you comes back to them with a nice return, you don’t belong in business. Small business owners don’t have money to blow, and they need to stretch every dollar as far as it can go.
Your product should have a nice, demonstrable ROI, or it should be changed until it gets one.
5. Nail down your marketing message
This ties into the last point. Your message to the market should be clear about how the product saves the customer time, money, or both. Whatever your key benefits are, find a way to communicate them that is immediately understood by your target audience, and that also resonates with them emotionally, if appropriate.
For many small business owners, a big concern is having enough business. If you can tie into a way to boost their business, you’ve likely got their attention.
6. Don’t be afraid to cold call
Get comfortable with rejection – you’re going to experience a lot of it. The upside, however, is that your pitch will get well honed and you will have a new, cost-effective way to increase your sales. Not every industry is ripe for cold calling, but many small business owners live offline, and this is a great way to reach them.
If you have a compelling pitch, the time-honored tradition of cold calling can be your startup’s bread and butter.
7. Keep it simple
Confusing a small business owner with your convoluted pitch is the fastest way to lose their interest, as well as any chance of winning them over as a client. You’re probably very passionate about your product, but make sure that this passion doesn’t lead to nonsensical meth-fueled rants to prospects about the glory of your offerings.
This applies to product design as well. Focus your product on a few core features and keep it simple. Don’t overthink things, and emphasize ease-of-use and setup speed.
Keep your attention on helping others first, and the rest will take care of itself.
Selling to small businesses is challenging, but very rewarding if you can develop a reliable, repeatable method for success.
If you only remember one thing from this post, remember to give the product to actual customers and get feedback as often as possible. They know the secret to your small business becoming a large business – you just have to get it out of them..