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Tech Adoption Summit 2018: Some New Perspective on the SMB Landscape

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What makes building and selling innovation to small, local businesses so challenging?

Bob Yakominich – Broadly’s Vice President of Sales and a veteran of American Express, Zip and CitySearch, among others – joined the Tech Adoption Summit to share some perspective.

Unlike enterprise companies, SMB owners wear many different hats — they work both in the business and on the business, Yakominich said. That has three key implications for those trying to sell to them:

  • First, it’s much harder to break through the clutter of all they’re dealing with to connect in a meaningful (and productive) way.
  • Second, more companies are excited by the prospect of working directly with the decision maker and a theoretical faster path to close, increasing competition of late, particularly for marketing dollar spend.
  • Third, SMB owners are agile and decisive — but while they may quickly sign with you, they’ll just as quickly look to others if the promises you made in your sales pitch don’t match the reality of working with your product.

Yakominich said SMB-focused companies should manage expectations by being very clear about what the product is and does, and how much involvement is required by the customer. He noted too many customers want a “set it and forget it” solution that’s entirely turnkey. You must be upfront about what success requires, he said.

Reflecting on a career that included stints inside and outside the SMB space, Yakominich noted the great changes that have taken place for those working with SMBs. Data has been transformative for Yakominich and his teams. He credited testing — of geography, price, vertical and product — that occurs in real time as useful for instantly understanding what’s working and what’s not. He also said that as companies bolt on marketing-like solutions, there’s fiercer competition — but often with less worthy competitors.

What hasn’t changed? Yakominich said the constants are developing a strong sales culture, holding sales people accountable for their plans, training and rewarding success. As he looked to the future, he anticipated lead targeting will get easier and easier, enabling the precise identification of companies that can benefit from the product and also pay for it. Meanwhile, he predicted marketing targeting would also improve substantially, driving up conversion, customer engagement, revenue and introducing less sales staff turnover.

What are the changes you’ve seen in the SMB sales landscape?

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