26 Mart 2011 Cumartesi

The Path to SMB customers – a Treasure Hunt


Path to reach SMBs - Treasure HuntReaching out for SMB customers has more or less become like a treasure hunt for IT Industry folks. We know that there is a pot of gold at end of the tunnel. But the real problem is that we may not have the treasure map – the right path that will lead us to them.
Why it is difficult to reach SMBs.
Every adventure trip has its own challenges. SMBs are typically run by tight entrepreneurs, who are conservative in terms of budget and may not venture out into adopting new technologies without getting absolutely convinced of its ROI.  SMBs are slow adopters of new technologies and require expert assistance on lots of IT-centric business solution areas. Despite these problems, every IT vendor wants to crack the SMB market by spending lots of marketing money ($$$) in online advertising and other mediums trying to reach the SMBs directly – Hold On! – Is that the right path? Truth is, even the mighty Microsoft and Dell realized that the effective way to reach out for SMBs is through the Channel.
Why Channel Partners have an upper hand with SMBs.
The Channel Partners, also known as, IT Service Providers, Managed Service Provider, Value Added Resellers and System Integrators etc… provide an effective way to Garden the IT requirements of SMBs and are in the best position to service them. The SMBs who don’t have the necessary resources in terms of time and money in managing their in-house IT rely on a trusted service provider who can act like their internal IT department. This local trusted service provider is in the best position to understand the SMBs business and provide the most suitable and cost effective IT solution and tailor them to to suit the customer’s business goals.
Only the local service providers can be the link between the vendors like us and the SMBs because they are in the best position to understand the SMB customers business needs to deliver the most relevant and cost effective IT solution by providing the necessary service in terms of the installation, training, on-going maintenance and support.
With that said, we may conclude that the best way to crack into the SMB market is through the channel!  But even for the service providers, there are many challenges  in growing their business – Let’s explore it!
Are the Service Providers always successful in reaching out to SMBs?
Most of the Service Providers consider ‘Marketing or Selling’ their services to SMB customers a critical pain point. Even though the service providers mostly do relationship selling to their SMB customers, there still seems to be some challenges in marketing relevant IT solution to them.  Mentioned below are some quick tips that might help the service providers to identify some common mistakes and areas of improvement in their marketing activities
• Service Providers are prone to overstuff customers with loads of information and technical specifications, while what businesses look for is a solution that will make their task of running their business easier. SMB’s don’t have time to sift through marketing materials and pages and pages of descriptions. A marketing message to SMBs must be simple and straightforward.  This point is succinctly put by Justin Crotty, Vice President Services North America at Ingram Micro Inc., in a guest blog post titled “Managed Services: The Value Is the Service” at the MSPmentor.
• The Pain Points for SMBs is how to sign up more new customers thus increasing the revenue and also how to reduce their operating cost . Focus your marketing message on these Pain Points and show how you can either help them  improve their process of signing up new customers or  how you can help them reduce their operating costs.
• Focus on how you are going to implement a solution and its impact on ROI instead of how exactly the product or service functions. For example if you are marketing an online  backup solution to your customers, one thing that you need to focus on is how backing up to an off site location is better in terms of protecting critical business data and also how the total cost of ownership is much more attractive than a traditional backup solution.
Avoid buzzwords like cloud hosting, Grid Computing etc…, many a non-IT domain SMB may neither understand nor care to learn
• Include customer testimonials on all your marketing messages demonstrating on how a local business is benefited from your service. This will have a notable impact on your marketing efforts.
Like every adventure trip, the path for reaching out to SMBs is full of traps and pitfalls. If you discover the right path you can win big.
The above post was written by Lenin Srinivasan of Vembu Technologies. Vembu Technologies is a backup software vendor whose product, StoreGrid, powers the online backup services of a large number of service providers across the globe. Besides remote backup, StoreGrid is also used for on premise backups of workstations and servers at various companies & universities.
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