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Selling Tech to SMBs

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What technology are small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) most likely to buy this year, and next? How does technology contribute to their success? What do they want from a technology provider? Why do they make a purchase decision to buy?

To find out, we surveyed more than 500 U.S. SMB principals.

Published in: Marketing
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Selling Tech to SMBs

  1. 1. SELLING TECH TO SMBS
  2. 2. 2 INCREASING SALES TO SMBS ORIGINAL RESEARCH  CUSTOM CONTENT
  3. 3. • Qualitative • Live focus groups • Online bulletin boards • In-depth interviews • Quantitative • Custom phone / online • SMB Pulse • New SMB IT Pulse Methods ORIGINAL RESEARCH  CUSTOM CONTENT • Ad, message, positioning testing • Attitudes and usage • Brand awareness / perception • Buyer identification • Competitive perceptions • Customer satisfaction / loyalty • Market segmentation • Media behaviors / preferences • New product testing • Persona / buyer journey • Purchase intent, behaviors, channels and preferences Topics 3 INCREASING SALES TO SMBS Internal: Actionable product / marketing insight External: PR / social / content / events / collateral OutputsOutputs
  4. 4. 4 INCREASING SALES TO SMBS ORIGINAL RESEARCH  CUSTOM CONTENT Video Email Newsletters Checklists / Worksheets Case StudiesArticles Blog Posts White Papers Podcasts eBooks PR Surveys Social Media Handbooks / Guides Webcasts Slideshows Infographics Interactive Tools • Persona / buyer journey • Formats, topics and outlets • Peer data • Creative brief • Editorial calendar • Distribution plan • Content audit • Content creation • Analytics Contribution • Expert • Actionable • Relevant • Easy to understand • Professional • Brand-building • Custom Principles Direct Mail Event Collateral Brochures / Sell Sheets Custom Pubs
  5. 5. The SMB tech adoption outlook, sales cycle preferences and tech purchase process WHAT WE’LL COVER 5 Attitudes towards tech Purchase intent and process Role of content Brand perception
  6. 6. METHODOLOGY 6 1 2 3 HOW WHO WHEN Online survey via the Bredin.com/SMBPulse 500 principals of U.S. companies with ≤500 employees (4% +/- CI) March 9-19, 2018 Representative mix of industries, business ages, locations etc. 250 VSB <20 employees (97.7% weighting) 150 SB 20-99 employees (2.0% weighting) 100 MB 100-500 employees (0.3% weighting)
  7. 7. ON WITH THE SHOW
  8. 8. It is an expense that we try to minimize; we only adopt technology when absolutely necessary It is important, but we wait until technology is proven before we adopt it We see it as essential to our business success, and adopt / develop it aggressively Tech ‘importance’ increases with company size 8 n=498 Which of these statements best describes your company's attitude towards technology? ATTITUDES TOWARDS TECH 17% 47% 35% Total 18% 47% 35% VSB (<20) 9% 36% 55% SB (20-99) 9% 29% 62% MB (100-500)
  9. 9. It is an expense that we try to minimize; we only adopt technology when absolutely necessary It is important, but we wait until technology is proven before we adopt it We see it as essential to our business success, and adopt / develop it aggressively ‘Hypergrowth’ SMBs – and Millennials – aggressively adopt new tech 9 n=498 Which of these statements best describes your company's attitude towards technology? DOES TECH FUEL GROWTH? 11% 34%54% 18-34 19% 53% 28% 35-49 18% 47% 34% 50+ 20% 47% 32% No growth 16% 55% 29% Slow growth 16% 45% 39% Fast growth 12% 25% 63% Hypergrowth 17% 47% 35% Total
  10. 10. 32% 34% 44% 44% 44% 45% 46% 46% 49% 51% 51% Improve employee satisfaction / productivity Improve mobile access to applications / data Cost savings Improve data security Take advantage of a growth opportunity Current solution is dated / not working well Improve business performance / processes Keep up with competitors Keep up with changes in customers’ use of technology Improve functionality Improve reliability Reliability and functionality are key for VSBs; business performance for SBs and MBs 10 TECH PURCHASE RATIONALE VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 50% 57% 63% 50% 57% 62% 48% 58% 55% 46% 63% 65% 46% 66% 68% 44% 54% 58% 44% 61% 64% 44% 61% 62% 43% 63% 65% 34% 55% 48% 32% 60% 65% n=500 % rated very important On a scale of 1 (not at all important) to 3 (very important), please rate each of these possible reasons for purchasing new technology for your business: Total
  11. 11. 70% of SMBs say their tech investments have had a positive or very positive impact 11 n=496 Generally speaking, how would you describe the impact your company's investment in technology has had on your business success? TECH IMPACT Company Size Respondent Age
  12. 12. PURCHASE PROCESS
  13. 13. Search, email newsletters, TV and peers are top drivers of awareness 13 n=500 What information sources do you use when you are assessing technology solutions for your business? Select the sources you are most likely to use to first learn about technology solutions. SMB TECH PRODUCT AWARENESS s 26% 27% 27% 28% 28% 29% 29% 29% 30% 30% 30% 30% 31% 32% 32% 33% 38% Podcast Pinterest YouTube One-off email Instagram LinkedIn Press release Radio Newspaper / magazine (print or online) Twitter Outdoor billboard or signage Live event or trade show Facebook Peer / colleague TV Email newsletter Search VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 38% 31% 32% 33% 31% 27% 32% 37% 35% 32% 29% 29% 31% 35% 31% 30% 35% 25% 30% 33% 24% 30% 31% 29% 30% 30% 29% 29% 31% 27% 29% 27% 24% 28% 38% 31% 28% 31% 25% 28% 30% 26% 27% 30% 26% 27% 25% 32% 26% 29% 30% Total
  14. 14. Your sales team is very important for awareness with SBs and MBs 14 n=500 What information sources do you use when you are assessing technology solutions for your business? Select the sources you are most likely to use to first learn about technology solutions. s SMB TECH PRODUCT AWARENESS (CONTINUED) s 18% 19% 19% 20% 20% 21% 21% 21% 22% 22% 23% 23% 23% 25% 25% 26% 26% Analyst report Video on a vendor’s website Case study Resources section of a vendor’s website Interactive tool eBook / guide / handbook Call or meeting with a vendor sales… Webinar / webcast Forum or discussion board White paper Research report Product section of a vendor’s website In-house IT (or other) staff Infographic Postcard, letter or catalog in the mail Blog External / third-party IT (or other) consultant VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 26% 23% 30% 26% 26% 27% 25% 31% 26% 24% 30% 26% 23% 28% 28% 23% 21% 25% 22% 28% 27% 22% 25% 23% 22% 20% 25% 21% 24% 23% 21% 31% 33% 21% 23% 19% 20% 23% 22% 20% 21% 24% 19% 25% 27% 18% 31% 26% 18% 19% 24% Total
  15. 15. After search, your site is key for product research 15 n=500 What information sources do you use when you are assessing technology solutions for your business? Select the sources you are most likely to use to research technology solutions. s SMB TECH PRODUCT RESEARCH ss 27% 27% 28% 28% 29% 29% 29% 30% 30% 31% 32% 32% 33% 34% 37% 38% 48% In-house IT (or other) staff Email newsletter Analyst report Interactive tool YouTube Live event or trade show eBook / guide / handbook Webinar / webcast Peer / colleague Call or meeting with a vendor sales… Forum or discussion board Video on a vendor’s website Research report Case study Resources section of a vendor’s website Product section of a vendor’s website Search VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 48% 45% 40% 38% 40% 41% 37% 42% 44% 34% 39% 44% 33% 39% 39% 32% 36% 37% 32% 37% 32% 31% 35% 41% 30% 35% 44% 30% 40% 46% 29% 40% 37% 29% 35% 38% 28% 37% 34% 28% 41% 42% 27% 42% 39% 27% 31% 40% 27% 37% 41% Total
  16. 16. SBs rely heavily on tech consultants 16 n=500 What information sources do you use when you are assessing technology solutions for your business? Select the sources you are most likely to use to research technology solutions. SMB TECH PRODUCT RESEARCH (CONTINUED) 15% 16% 16% 18% 18% 19% 19% 20% 20% 21% 22% 23% 24% 24% 26% 26% 27% Outdoor billboard or signage Twitter Instagram Pinterest Radio Facebook LinkedIn Press release One-off email Podcast Postcard, letter or catalog in the mail TV White paper Infographic Blog External / third-party IT (or other) consultant Newspaper / magazine (print or online) VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 27% 31% 32% 25% 40% 33% 25% 39% 39% 24% 29% 31% 24% 31% 41% 23% 23% 37% 22% 27% 39% 21% 30% 33% 20% 34% 35% 20% 29% 36% 19% 30% 39% 18% 31% 29% 18% 29% 27% 17% 34% 29% 16% 26% 33% 16% 25% 35% 14% 27% 31% Total
  17. 17. Your site’s product section is the most important resource for SMBs to make a purchase decision 17 n=500 What information sources do you use when you are assessing technology solutions for your business? Select the sources you are to make a final purchase decision. SMB TECH PRODUCT PURCHASE DECISION 12% 13% 13% 14% 15% 15% 16% 16% 18% 18% 18% 19% 19% 19% 19% 22% 24% YouTube Interactive tool Postcard, letter or catalog in the mail Webinar / webcast Video on a vendor’s website White paper Case study Live event or trade show Analyst report External / third-party IT (or other) consultant Resources section of a vendor’s website Research report Peer / colleague In-house IT (or other) staff Search Product section of a vendor’s website Call or meeting with a vendor sales… VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 24% 34% 32% 22% 27% 25% 19% 24% 22% 19% 33% 32% 19% 29% 26% 19% 27% 29% 18% 27% 34% 18% 27% 27% 18% 32% 35% 16% 23% 28% 16% 27% 25% 15% 24% 27% 14% 21% 20% 14% 25% 24% 13% 22% 20% 13% 23% 25% 12% 17% 24% Total
  18. 18. SBs and MBs rely on significantly more resources than do VSBs 18 n=500 What information sources do you use when you are assessing technology solutions for your business? Select the sources you are to make a final purchase decision. SMB TECH PRODUCT PURCHASE DECISION (CONTINUED) 7% 7% 7% 8% 8% 8% 9% 9% 9% 10% 10% 10% 11% 11% 11% 12% 12% Pinterest Outdoor billboard or signage Podcast Twitter Instagram Press release Radio Facebook LinkedIn One-off email Email newsletter Infographic Blog TV Newspaper / magazine (print or online) Forum or discussion board eBook / guide / handbook VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) 12% 19% 21% 11% 23% 31% 10% 25% 29% 10% 24% 23% 10% 18% 25% 10% 23% 26% 10% 20% 20% 10% 13% 23% 9% 21% 17% 9% 21% 22% 9% 19% 27% 8% 22% 21% 8% 21% 21% 8% 21% 21% 7% 19% 21% 7% 15% 20% 6% 18% 19% Total
  19. 19. PURCHASE INTENT
  20. 20. Have an IT director Do not have an IT director 20 n=500 Do you have a full-time internal IT director? IT DIRECTOR STATUS The presence of an IT director increases sharply at 20 employees... 12% 88% Total 10% 90% VSB (<20) 71% 29% SB (20-99) 87% 13% MB (100-500)
  21. 21. 32% 33% 56% 59% Managed service provider, for any kind of service Phone hardware / software consulting, installation, service etc. Hardware repair ("break / fix") Hardware / software consulting, installation, service etc. What kind of tech consultant do you have? …as does the presence of an external IT consultant. 21 IT CONSULTANT STATUS n=131 n=500 Do you have an external tech consultant? Have a tech consultant Do not have a tech consultant 26% 74% Total 26% 74% VSB (<20) 54% 46% SB (20-99) 69% 31% MB (100-500) SMBs in the professional services segment are most likely to have an external consultant with 33% having one. Large revenue SMBs ($5M+) are twice as likely to have a consultant compared to low revenue companies (<$500k).
  22. 22. 62% 66% 67% 69% 78% 79% 80% 80% 38% 34% 33% 31% 22% 21% 20% 20% System software Servers and storage Application software Routers / switches / wireless access points Phone systems PCs, desktops, laptops Cellphones / tablets Printers / copiers / faxes For both hardware and software, SMBs would rather buy directly from the manufacturer 22 n= Ranges 472-488 For each of these tech product categories, please indicate whether you would rather purchase them from a tech consultant or direct from the vendor / manufacturer: SMB PURCHASE CHANNEL PREFERENCE Direct from the manufacturer Tech consultant
  23. 23. 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 100-500 20-99 1-19 System software 100-500 20-99 1-19 Servers and storage 100-500 20-99 1-19 Application software 100-500 20-99 1-19 Routers / switches / wireless… 100-500 20-99 1-19 Phone systems 100-500 20-99 1-19 PCs, desktops, laptops 100-500 20-99 1-19 Cellphones / tablets 100-500 20-99 1-19 Printers / copiers / faxes Larger SMBs are more likely to prefer purchasing from a tech consultant than VSBs 23 n= Ranges 472-488 For each of these tech product categories, please indicate whether you would rather purchase them from a tech consultant or direct from the vendor / manufacturer: SMB PURCHASE CHANNEL PREFERENCE: COMPANY SIZE Direct from the manufacturer Tech consultant
  24. 24. 13% 10% 13% 16% 15% 15% 17% 21% 31% 27% 10% 15% 16% 15% 15% 16% 16% 17% 17% 23% 9% 10% 11% 12% 12% 15% 13% 17% 18% 18% 32% 36% 39% 42% 43% 45% 46% 54% 66% 68% Phone system Other system software Onsite servers and storage Database software Routers / switches / wireless access points Operating systems Tablets Printers / copiers / faxes Cellphone(s) PCs / laptops / desktops By the end of 2018 In 2019 After 2019 = % buying / upgrading In 2018 SMB budgets, PCs and smartphones are the most likely purchase 24 n=Ranges 494-500 What is your best guess as to when you will buy new / additional, or upgrade, each of these technologies for your business? SMB TECH PURCHASE OUTLOOK Hypergrowth SMBs are the most likely to buy ‘by the end of 2018’ in every single product category vs. other SMBs. In the PCs / laptops / desktops category Hypergrowth SMBs are more than 3x more likely to buy in 2018 than no growth SMBs (57% vs. 17%). Millennials are more likely to invest in 9 of 10 product categories vs. older SMBs. In the tablets category 40% of Millennials plan to buy or upgrade by the end of 2018, vs only 18% (35-49) and 10% (50+).
  25. 25. Email, online storage/backup, and payments are the most common apps 25 n=Ranges 494 to 500 Which, if any, of these kinds of software or apps do you currently have, or will you acquire? (please pick the best option in each row) APPLICATION USAGE AND PURCHASE OUTLOOK 8% 9% 10% 13% 15% 26% 27% 28% 28% 29% 31% 35% 36% 37% 41% 49% 54% 55% 58% 78% 9% 10% 12% 14% 12% 11% 9% 10% 10% 11% 9% 9% 8% 14% 10% 13% 9% 7% 9% 4% 4% 7% 7% 6% 3% 4% 3% 6% 4% 4% 3% 6% 3% 3% 5% 3% 3% 4% 4% 1% 2% 3% 1% 2% 5% 4% 2% 2% 3% 2% 2% 2% 2% 2% 4% 2% 3% 2% 1% 2% Fleet management CRM / sales force automation Survey administration Marketing automation Analytics Website analytics Production management Web / video conferencing HR / payroll / benefits administration Design / illustration Inventory management Expense management File sharing Social media management Office productivity suite Accounting / financial management Security software Payments (any kind) Storage / file backup Email Already have Will get by the end of 2018 Will get in 2019 Will get after 2019 Millennials are less likely to have a security software than their older peers with only 40% currently having one vs. 54% (35-49) and 57% (50+). Almost half (48%) of Millennials use website analytics compared to only 18% of the 50+ audience. Hypergrowth companies are big CRM users, with 32% already have one and 31% expecting to buy by end of year. This is a big contrast to ‘no growth’ SMBs, of whom only 2% have a CRM system.
  26. 26. ‘Commodity’ tech purchases are made within a month 26 n=varies 492-498 On average, how long does it take from beginning to conduct research on these technology products and services for your business until you make a purchase or upgrade decision? TECH PURCHASE CYCLE 17% 16% 19% 19% 22% 24% 31% 36% 27% 36% 25% 26% 26% 26% 28% 26% 28% 26% 29% 27% 15% 20% 18% 19% 14% 17% 11% 11% 15% 11% 12% 10% 11% 8% 11% 8% 7% 6% 9% 8% 8% 8% 7% 9% 7% 7% 6% 8% 7% 6% 77% 80% 80% 81% 82% 82% 82% 88% 88% 89% Other system software Onsite servers and storage Database software Operating systems Phone system Routers / switches / wireless access points Tablets Printers / copiers / faxes PCs / laptops / desktops Cellphone(s) A week A month Three months Six months A year = % that buy within a year
  27. 27. 50% 43% 5% 2% 24% 57% 13% 5% 21% 47% 25% 6% 1 or 2 3 or 4 5 to 9 10 or more VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) The vast majority of SMBs consider four or fewer vendors 27 VENDOR CONSIDERATION n=500 How many vendors do you typically consider when assessing a new technology solution for your business?
  28. 28. Clear pricing and industry expertise are paramount 28 n=500 On a scale of 1 (not at all important) to 3 (very important), please rate each of these attributes when you are assessing a potential technology vendor. VENDOR PURCHASE ATTRIBUTES 50% 50% 51% 49% 49% 52% 62% 62% 46% 44% 47% 45% 56% 59% 63% 67% 27% 30% 40% 42% 43% 49% 62% 70% Has many customers Robust business management tips and advices, such as articles or videos Robust tips and advice on getting the most from their solution, pre- and post-purchase Online ratings or reviews Has the most innovative or function-rich solution Experience / expertise with companies the same size as mine Experience / expertise in my industry Clear, competitive pricing VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500) Hypergrowth SMBs place greater importance on all of these attributes than fast growth, slow growth and no growth SMBs.
  29. 29. ROLE OF CONTENT MARKETING
  30. 30. Content can boost brand perception, conversion and retention 30 n=Ranges 496-498 Please indicate whether the business management advice you've read from technology vendors: EFFECT OF CONTENT MARKETING 73% say reading business management advice makes them think more favorably of the sponsoring company 68% say reading business management advice makes them more likely to become a customer of the sponsoring company 73% say reading business management advice makes them more likely to remain a customer of the sponsoring company Favorability Acquisition Retention VSB (<20) SB (20-99) MB (100-500)
  31. 31. … AND THE SLIDE YOU’VE BEEN WAITING FOR
  32. 32. 32 n=varies TECH BRAND AWARENESS VS. TRUST % of respondents ‘very aware’ %ofrespondentsthattrusteachbrand Awareness correlates with trust n=varies. Top 1 box Horizontal axis: On a scale of 1 (not at all aware) to 5 (very aware), please rate your awareness of (or familiarity with) each of these technology firms Vertical axis: On a scale of 1 (do not trust at all) to 5 (trust very much), please rate your trust in each of these technology firms (if >2 on awareness)
  33. 33. 33 HOW BREDIN CAN HELP Stu Richards, CEO stu@bredin.com • Content strategy • Creative brief / ed cal Strategy • Original content development • Exclusive SMB focus Content • Product / go-to-market strategy • Persona / buyer journey • Original data for standout content and PR Research Work with the experts in SMB insight and engagement
  34. 34. PARTICIPANT FIRMOGRAPHICS Want to watch the original Fastcast? Watch it here. Want to talk with the B2SMB experts? Email us at: info@bredin.com

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