Survey: SMBs Getting Nearly 6 Sales Calls Weekly, Prefer Email Contacts

Borrell Associates has published new small business advertiser survey data on a range of topics pertaining to advertising and marketing attitudes and trends. The survey took place over Q2 and Q3 with a full sample size in excess of 7,000 (though some questions have smaller samples).

Roughly 20% of the sample includes companies and organizations that have more than 100 employees. Three-quarters of the sample (75%) have been in business for at least 10 years.

There’s a lot of material but I chose to focus on two related findings that have been the subject of prior discussion but are interesting to revisit nonetheless. They involve the number of monthly sales contacts and the ways that SMBs prefer to be contacted.

Avg. number of times a month that a local business is contacted by someone selling advertising

Borrell Assoc SMB survey

Source: Borrell Associates (2016), n=7,564

Borrell found, on a monthly basis, that local businesses were receiving just under 24 contacts. That translates into between 5 and 6 contacts per week. It’s not entirely clear if this includes all forms of contact or just calls; however let’s assume it’s calls, which is what the report suggests.

When asked how they preferred to be contacted and even how they wanted to buy advertising and marketing services, the survey found that the overwhelming majority said email. A 2014 survey we conducted found that email was preferred by 68% of SMBs — consistent with the Borrell findings.

How do you prefer to be reached about advertising?

Borrell SMB survey

Source: Borrell Associates (2016), n=7,564

I’m not sure that this is a statement of how SMBs actually want to transact business with marketing providers so much as a statement about not wanting to be contacted or interrupted all the time by pitches. Arguably email is the least effective way to sell marketing. It may be a way to qualify leads for later follow-up but on its own it’s unlikely to generate many closes.

Interestingly, the 2016 Local Pulse Survey from LSA research partner Thrive Analytics earlier this year found that as SMB marketing budgets went up so did their interest in in-person sales visits: 64% of those with a $10K or larger marketing budget said an in-person sales contact was “very important.”

The larger point, however, is that traditional “selling” is less and less effective. These SMBs are effectively under siege. As a result, many firms have turned to “content marketing” and “in-bound” marketing to generate leads.

What’s your reaction to this data? Is it consistent with what you’re seeing?

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