Let's assume the following about the small business market:
1. Owner managers have no time for anything much less another sales pitch;
2. Owner managers seek value. If you, or what you sell, cannot provide value, it is seen as just another commodity; and
3. Owner managers are very lonely. Leadership is, by and large, a lonely endeavor.
How do you reach out to a target market with no time, seeks value and doesn't need yet another mouth to feed?
1. Provide information, not a sales pitch. Look at your sales literature and your pitch. Are you actually providing information beyond your good or service? Have you informed the owner-manager about their industry, some specialized knowledge they might not know (for example, here's a tax deduction all your competitors miss) or what problem you are actually here to solve? If you provide information, it is less likely they will see you as just another sales pitch. Try group seminars rather than one on one pitch and, more importantly, ask them to bring their gate keepers too.
2. Find ways to increase their sales. As opposed to inviting them to a round of golf (which, in the eyes of many owner-managers, is a waste of a day), find out who their sales targets are and invite the owner manager to lunch with these targets. If it results in a sale for the owner-manager, they will see you as a value added and not a cost centre. Plus, they can't exactly buy what you are selling without increased revenue right?
3. Be the bartender. The most over-looked pain of an owner-manager is loneliness. Other than their immediate family, they sit at the top and have few people to vent or complain to. Be the bartender and listen to their woes and actually try to help them. If you don't know how, introduce them to a follow owner-manager who may (entrepreneurs love to exchange ideas).
The key to all of the above strategies and tactics requires a true understanding of an owner manager's life. If you are just entering the market and do not know this well, sit down with your prospect and find out before you actually sell. It will make you a better small business sales and marketer over the long run. Good luck.
Labels: Albert Luk