This is part 2 of a series on the challenge of targeting SMB markets and how the use of buyer modeling and buyer-based marketing help organizations to grow their SMB customer base.
In the first article of this series, we visited two new realities. One, that many Fortune 1000 and Global 2000 organizations are turning a focused eye towards growing their SMB customer and revenue base. With revenue growth potential shrinking in larger strategic accounts due to budget and pricing pressures, many are dedicating attention and resources with more determination than in the past. The second reality is that they are finding a very different buyer this time around than in the past. Simply put, SMB buyers are more social, more sophisticated, more connected, and are transforming their buying behaviors at an accelerated pace. New technologies opening their world to advantages only once afforded to large enterprises.
Waking up to these new realities has set up another challenge for executive leaders. That is of how to get to know the new SMB buyer. Here’s how one sales executive put this to me recently:
“One of the things we realized is that we have got to get to know our SMB customers. If you keep in mind that we haven’t really dedicated much resource to this area, then we are lacking in knowledge per se’. We’ve got to find out what is important to them versus just giving them some generic sales pitch.”
This is a very salient point for many organizations tend to view the SMB as a whole segment in of itself. The reality is that the SMB is highly fragmented and consists of many layers of sub-market segments. Getting to know what makes SMB buyers tick is, by no means, as easy as saying this is your SMB buyer. Layer on top of this the enormous changes in buyer behavior, the invisibility of SMB buyers in their sourcing for information, and new empowering technologies makes this endeavor a higher mountain to climb. It is no wonder many executives are walking out of their meetings where SMB growth is identified as a top priority saying – now what?
Getting To Know The New SMB Buyer
The first tough challenge is realizing that viewing the SMB as a single market and that rudimentary means of segmenting by employee size and revenue figures are not going to result in the understanding needed. While vertical segmentation is of significant help, what is paramount is knowledge of how these sub-markets and buyers within behave. What are steps that executives can take to understand the new SMB buyer?
Buyer Research: This has to be a clear mission. Getting to know the new SMB buyer is going to take some level of buyer research. It is going to take the integrated approach of committing to both quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand the full 360 degrees of the new SMB buyer.
Buyer Modeling: Depending on the degree of fragmentation in sub-markets, powerful buyer modeling can be an extensive exercise. However, one well-worth the upfront investment to get to know the new SMB buyer in ways that transforms efforts into an order of magnitude competitive advantage. There are several areas of modeling that by understanding them deeply, can make your organization relevant to buyers and core to their problem-solving:
Buyer Persona Modeling: What is important here is not to model the single archetypal buyer but to model the new levels of interactions buyers are having with newly formed ecosystems and networks. They may be SMB but they are growing exponentially and organically by creating new ecosystems. Buyer persona modeling represents composite archetypes based on behavioral research with a focus on identifying critical goals that drive buyer behaviors.
Buyer Scenario Modeling: To get a handle on the problems SMB buyers face and what confronts them, modeling buying scenarios can give your marketing and sales teams insight into how to be relevant. Additionally, this gives you the ability to address fragmentation and identify sub-market segments that have the best optimal scenarios to be part of the SMB buyer’s solution.
Buyer Decision Modeling: How SMB buyers are making purchase decisions today is changing so fast and by sub-markets that not monitoring this aspect of a SMB strategy can put an organization behind the curve. While looking at the buyer decision journey can be fruitful, in my qualitative research I’ve noted how the new SMB buyers are adept at more ad-hoc decision-making. Furthermore, with the rise of ecosystems and networks, collaborative efforts in making purchase decisions are not so neatly streamlined. Newer technologies are also making purchase decisions more decentralized than ever – making fragmentation on this issue even more complex.
Buyer Value Modeling: SMB buyers’ value varies widely by sub-market segments. Gaining insight and modeling how these values operate in their day-to-day world can help you to tailor offerings and communications to fit specific sub-market segments. Depending on the industry and markets, values in the SMB take on a deeper emotive texture and can be a deciding factor in purchase decisions.
Avoid Big Data Trap
With the rise of big data, there will be a tendency to try and “cut the numbers” every which way to make sense of the SMB market challenge. When dealing with 5,000 SMB accounts to 150,000 SMB accounts, the tasks of getting to know these SMB buyers at a deeper level can look downright daunting. Analytics will play an important role towards reaching understanding. I also contend and advocate that qualitative and predictive buyer modeling is essential to integrate into the mix of discovering the new SMB buyer of today. Buyer behavior within the SMB world is rapidly changing. A reasonable assumption can be made that in some SMB sub-market segments it is changing at a faster pace than that of larger organizations.
The combined use of analytics and predictive buyer modeling can yield an insightful picture into how these new behaviors translate into uncovering why buyers make purchase decisions. And, get closer to the holy grail of uncovering the reasons why they would change.
Next Up: The Importance of Buyer-Based Marketing in SMBFollow @tonyzambito
- Your Top Priority Is Growing The SMB Revenue Base – Now What? (buyerology.com)
- How B2B Leaders Are Understanding Buyers Better With Behavioral Buyergraphics (buyerology.com)
- The Single Buyer Model: A Dangerous Road Towards Competitive B2B Marketing (buyerology.com)
- 4 Ways the Power of Buyer Choice Will Transform Business Marketing (buyerology.com)
- Slow Death of the Funnel: Why Buyer Choice Matters to Revenue (buyerology.com)
- Predictive Buyer Modeling Is Changing the Future of B2B (buyerology.com)