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CRM: Selling SMBs Something They Don’t Yet Know They Need

There are a number of companies now offering booking, payments, loyalty, email automation, back office and other formerly enterprise only tools to small businesses (SMBs). Beyond early mover OpenTable, DemandForce was really the first in this category to get widespread attention with its appointment reminders and related customer management services.

Agendize, Camilyo, vCita, Shore, PingUp, Square, Swipely, Belly, Booker, GoDaddy, Facebook and a number of others are introducing or developing tools and services that loosely fall under the banner of CRM. In another sense this wave of new services is part of a larger movement in the market from pure promotional services for SMBs to “local commerce” or “service commerce.”

The challenge for vendors and sales channels is that most SMBs don’t yet recognize they need these tools. It raises the question: how do you sell something to somebody that they don’t know they need?

Yodle survey consumers

Source: Yodle survey of 6,000 US adults (2015)

Online booking, online ordering, mobile payments, mobile messaging, mobile loyalty capabilities will relatively soon start differentiating businesses that offer these things from those that don’t, with corresponding benefits to the former group. An extreme example is Uber’s ongoing destruction of the taxi industry with its simplicity and in-app payments.

The Yodle survey of more than 6,000 US consumers, published earlier this year, contains some very interesting data validating the use of these services. Consumer demands and expectations are accelerating and outstripping the ability of large brands, retailers and SMBs to respond to them.

Consumers would like to see digital booking and payments and see those businesses that adopt them as differentiated. What’s more interesting, in a way, is the growing number of consumers who simply expect these capabilities today (chart above). Consumer market leaders are helping influence and condition these expectations.

Yodle consumer survey

Source: Yodle survey of 6,000 US adults (2015)

The second chart immediately above shows that consumers are open to receiving more communications from SMBs than are currently being delivered. This reinforces the notion that there’s an opportunity — or a need — for CRM and marketing automation tools to communicate with customers and prospects that aren’t currently being utilized by business owners.

I’m interested in your thoughts about how, from a tactical sales standpoint, one penetrates the SMB market with new technologies like this, which businesses don’t yet recognize as necessary.

One Response to “CRM: Selling SMBs Something They Don’t Yet Know They Need”

  1. Walter says:

    Deploying easy to use and even more importantly easy to understand mini CRM systems to SMBs should be an easy task if you have a local on-site salesforce. Showing prospects their performance in local directories compared to their respective industry average is a powerful tool.

    If they are below average without being a directory customer, you can offer them to try and lift them above average. If they are above average already, adding effective directory products should lift their visibility and performance even more.

    Visualizing their performance in simple graphs and simple words can do wonders.

    And yes, building a local salesforce can be daunting task. We still think it pays off at our Swiss directories.

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