10 Things I Love About Small Business (That Can Help You Sell To Them)

  • September 2014
  • Posted By Janet Muto

While preparing for a recent talk on small businesses and how to best market to them, I “fell in love all over again”.  Small businesses are a difficult “market” to sell to – especially when it comes to making them aware of your product or service.  However, once you know them, you will find that they are rewarding in so many ways – revenue is only one of them.  I suspect that like me, you will find that they will capture your heart and mind as well.

Janet Muto - 10 Things I Love About Small Business
  1. They are sincere

Engage any small business owner in a conversation and you will find that they are sincere and honest. If you ask a question, they will answer it; whether asking about the success of their business, what they think they are doing wrong (or right) or about their future goals, they will answer honestly and openly.  I find this to be both a great opportunity and also incredibly refreshing.

If you ask the right questions and listen carefully, you will know what they need and how to best sell to them.

  1. They care about their business

Small business owners started their businesses because they are experts in that area (dry cleaning, plumbing, accounting) AND because they love what they do.  They are not management experts, or trying to climb up a management ladder. They are trying to do what they love, while supporting their families and lifestyle.

 If you show that, you care about their business, since to them it is like another one of their children, and show a true interest in helping them do better, results will follow.

  1. They hate jargon and double-talk

Small businesses owners are not caught in tech speak.  They are straightforward and uncomplicated. They are not simple, but do love simple, straightforward language that delivers what they need.  Once you talk and think this way – you won’t go back!

Every conversation that you have should focus on their needs and business and what your solution will do for them…not what it does!

  1. They are active in their communities

Most small businesses are local businesses.  They are active in their communities and implicitly trust other small businesses in their area (if you think they are competitors, think again!) They share war stores, learn from one another and all look for ways to improve their collective business.

While it is very difficult to make small businesses aware, if you delight them, they will delight you by sharing their delight with colleagues, friends and family.

  1. They are the “MacGyvers” of the business world

Small business owners’ lives are unpredictable. They are masters of workarounds, and come up with practical solutions “on the fly” despite what is thrown at them while keeping customers satisfied, bills paid and employees motivated.

Any place that you can provide predictability is a win.  Pricing predictability is critical.  Whether fixed price or one that ebbs and flows with their revenue, at least pricing surprises can be one area that they don’t have to worry about.

  1. They don’t believe in magic

You might think that Small Business owners are all from Missouri (the “Show-Me State”).  As a rule, they are focused on today – and what can solve today’s problems.  They learn by seeing/doing – whether hearing about something from a colleague, or giving it a test drive themselves.

PowerPoint slides and visions for the future need not apply. Small business owners are risk averse and don’t want to spend time on anything that won’t yield results. Offer free trials (no obligation of course), and show real examples of how other businesses like them have successfully used your product.  Give the small business owner the time and tools to be successful.

  1. They know what they don’t know

Small business owners know their weaknesses – nearly all mention marketing as one of them. They openly share their concerns and doubts and are equally open about learning how to do thing better.

 If you provide council and guidance (simple, no jargon, business focused), you can be a key business partner.  Companies like Constant Contact, American Express, Ricoh and Wells Fargo all have websites and content devoted to making small business owners better at what they do.

  1. Getting to a decision is eas”ier”

The business owner is generally the influencer, decision maker and user.  If your solution is right, there is no long sales cycles or sign-off required. Plus, small businesses rarely engage in a long competitive process.

If your prices are competitive and affordable (two different things), and if you have solved a business problem that the business owner has, you should get a convincing “yes” when you ask for their business.

  1. They really appreciate great products and services

When a small business owner loves a product or service, they tell you. Plus, they will let you tell others about their experience: No non-disclosures or testimonial review processes required; They say it, and you can use it.

First, it makes you feel good that you have helped them in a substantive way, but more importantly, you can share the love with others like them – a key to successfully selling to SMBs.

       10. They are great to sell to

Unlike their jaded and sometimes “know it all” counterparts in larger companies or over-saturated and unpredictable consumers, small business owners are fun to work with and sell to.  They are open to learn, curious about their colleagues and genuinely interested in getting better at what they do.

If you keep these attributes in mind and use them to build a full small business experience that recognizes and rewards them, you too will be rewarded!

One of the best things about small business is that they are part of all of our everyday lives – from your fitness trainer to your accountant, you probably visit at least 1 or 2 per day (in my case, even more).  They are a wonderful resource – use every visit as an opportunity to ask them about their business – what is working, what is not, and what they are trying to accomplish. You will be amazed at how this daily research will support your small business efforts.


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