What Resellers Need to Understand About Small-Business Partners
There is a saying in the world of pediatric medical care that “children are not just small adults.” This means that children require a different approach to care than one would use with adults, even if they have similar ailments.
The same principle applies to resellers who are working with small businesses. A small business isn’t just a smaller version of a large company. They may have some similarities, but a small business has unique needs and faces challenges that their larger counterparts may not. For that reason, it’s important for resellers to understand certain facts about their small-business clients in order to help them make better technology purchasing decisions and become true partners in their business.
1. Small Business Buying Decisions Are Made by One Person
According to one recent study, most small-business buying decisions are made by the owner of the company. Unlike large businesses, where decisions are made by committee or a purchasing department, small-business buying decisions are made on a micro level. The business owner may seek feedback and input on the decision from users and managers, as well as conduct his or her own research, but the final decision comes down to that person.
As a reseller, then, it’s important that you build the relationship with the buyer — and understand that he or she is an actual person and is likely to make decisions the same way the average individual does, by reading reviews, looking at comparisons, and asking questions. Remember that the typical small-business buyer isn’t likely to be a technology expert, which means that your marketing materials should be developed to ensure understanding.
2. Small Businesses Want Support
Remember when we said that small-business owners aren’t generally technology experts? This also means that they are usually looking for a high level of support for their technology purchases. They don’t want to buy something that they don’t know how to use, or that they cannot manage to its full potential or fix when necessary. A large company is likely to have a full IT staff that has the skills and certifications required to manage their equipment.
A smaller business may have more limited resources, and will thus need help, especially during setup. As a reseller, you need to be prepared to provide those services if you are going to work in the small-business market. Some tech distributors like authorized Cisco dealers, offer high-end support that can help a reseller properly explain and implement their products so small businesses feel comfortable upgrading.
3. Buying Cycles Are Longer
Among larger companies, the average buying cycle for technology is around five months. For small business, buying cycles generally run six to 13 months. There are several reasons for this. Obviously, budget concerns are paramount in smaller businesses; small businesses will often wait longer than larger companies to discover that they need new technology, and spend more time investigating and justifying their purchases.
The optimization process also takes longer for small business as well, since getting up to speed tends to have a longer learning curve. Therefore, resellers need to be patient with their small-business clients, understanding that these clients need more time — and perhaps a little more guidance — in order to make decisions that work for them.
5. Small Business Buy With Purpose
Finally, resellers must understand why small-business customers buy technology. The most common reason that small businesses buy new technology is that they need to improve performance. The technology they have is not working for them as well as it should, and therefore they need to upgrade. Other common reasons small businesses buy include taking advantage of new opportunities, improving security, and a need to meet customer needs better. As a reseller, it’s important to understand why your client is looking for new solutions, and help them identify the tools that will help them meet their goals.
The small business market is an important one for technology resellers, but it requires a thorough understanding of how and why companies buy, and how their motivations and processes differ from larger customers. With this understanding, you can be a true partner to your customers instead of just another vendor — and that is what will keep them coming back to you as their needs evolve and ensure that your business continues to thrive.