It was back in the 60’s when John McCarthy wrote that “computation will someday be organized as a public utility.” In 2017 it’s easy to see that his vision was prophetic. Cloud technology has brought a paradigm shift to the IT infrastructure space. The cloud brings IT resources to end users from central hubs in the same way that utility grids carry water and electricity. All types of businesses big or small can now leverage the benefits and resources of the cloud. However, the users who benefit the most are SMBs (Small and medium businesses.)

Why do SMBs benefit so much from the cloud? By definition, they need to do more with less. Which means they need enterprise-class IT resources on a shoestring budget, which eliminates the possibility of owning all of their infrastructure in-house. Big enterprises are big cloud users too, of course, but there has also been a tremendous increase in demand for cloud services in the SMB market. This sector might seem like a tiny drop in the ocean, but it represents a massive portion of the customer base of major tech companies. 

In fact, in 2011 research from the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group showed that more than 50 percent of SMBs spend at least one-third of their IT budgets on cloud and managed infrastructure services. This sector is brimming with opportunities for cloud service providers and resellers. SMBs rely heavily on partners and advisors for help in finding the right technology that seamlessly aligns with their business purpose, and many of our Zoho Partners have jumped at the opportunity to provide expert guidance through impactful solutions in our SMB-friendly environment. 

However, selling to the SMB sector can be quite tricky. It comes with its own unique demands and pain-points that partners and re-sellers must be aware of. So let’s take a look at what those challenges are.

1. Customization is critical

Every business wants technology that can bring their vision to life. Just like enterprise customers, SMB customers have high expectations of the technology they use to run their business. The needs and priorities of each SMB client differ based on the company’s size, sophistication, and industry segment, but they all want solutions that are customized exclusively to their needs. They also want more flexibility when it comes to integrations and configurations. And cloud technology provides exactly that: flexibility, mobility, and customizations. But how can you move beyond the general to offer your SMB clients exactly the right cloud solutions?

The key for partners is to start by creating a go-to-market strategy to understand the requirements of SMBs and how to better meet their needs in the marketplace. A deep understanding of your SMB clients and the issues they face daily will help you connect the dots between their business needs and the technology that’s available. Once you’ve established that degree of understanding, you can offer guidance in choosing and implementing the best cloud solutions. Focus on solving your clients’ specific needs, and you’ll give them the tools to revolutionize their business.

2. Technology should be easy

Let’s face it: nobody wants a bulky and expensive software that takes a lifetime to implement and requires constant maintenance. Today’s business owners crave simple implementation and easy operation. This is especially true for SMBs since even the smallest expense or delay can have a significant impact on their operations. Although SMBs are ready to embrace cloud technology, they do not have the time or money to use trial and error to find what’s best for them. 

What SMBs want are simple solutions to help them keep doing what they’re already doing. They don’t want to have to change their business to adopt a new tool. Therefore, while selling to an SMB client, it’s crucial to ensure that the solution you recommend complements their existing business process. It should also reduce your client’s burden of IT maintenance tasks, and ultimately free up their time so they can focus on their core business functions.

3. Digital presence is key

Millennials lead more than 80% of small and medium businesses today, and that makes a difference in their buying process. The new market entrants have rapidly-changing technology preferences. They are cautiously optimistic about the growth of their small businesses. They interact with multiple technology companies through social media and are quick to adopt new technologies. If they are not happy with a solution today, they will switch to another solution tomorrow. To these young business owners, it’s all about what’s new when it comes to technology.  

Therefore, having a strong digital presence is crucial if you want to sell to an SMB customer. Partners need to tailor their sales model to the thinking of these SMBs before even approaching them. You’ve probably heard the old saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” If you want to sell more efficiently to millennial business owners, you need to meet them in their space and speak their language.  

4. Cost and return matter

SMBs, in general, operate on narrower financial margins than larger companies. Like any business, they focus on earning more revenue. But they also need to grow their business capacity, which means investing in technology tools. SMB owners can’t afford to take time out from bringing in revenue, so they prefer to invest in automated software solutions that don’t require constant maintenance. 

Moving to the cloud offers SMBs a chance for immediate cost savings, as it eliminates the enormous capital expenditures and maintenance headaches of traditional IT infrastructure. It also helps companies see a rapid increase in their ROI without having to compromise on the quality and sophistication of their technology. 

Partners need to be up-to-date on all the current market trends, pricing trends, and innovations in the cloud. A strong understanding of the market will help you suggest the best solutions to align with your SMB clients’ budgets. Ensure that your SMB clients’ investment in technology doesn’t just increase their short-term revenue, but also reduces their overall operating costs and increases their productivity in the long run. 

Remember who you’re selling to 

Keep these four points in mind when selling to SMB clients and you’ll be able to help them achieve the ultimate cloud experience. Our Zoho Partners, equipped with a comprehensive suite of products and support from us here at Zoho, have everything they need to sell in the SMB marketplace successfully. What are you waiting for? Partner with us.

Pooja Jayakumar
Content Marketer