SMEs or Small and Medium Enterprises, and are often acknowledged as the driving force of a country’s economy
How do we term an enterprise as ‘small’ or ‘medium’?
Technically, the Government of India enacted the Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development (MSMED) Act which defines a small enterprise as one where the investment in plant and machinery is more than Rs. 25 lakh but does not exceed Rs. 5 crore. Medium enterprises have an investment in plant and machinery of more than Rs.5 crore but not exceeding Rs.10 crore.
In our everyday understanding, mobile showrooms can fall in the bracket of Small businesses, while Health Laboratories which house X-Rays and such can fall in the bracket of medium businesses.There are also micro enterprises, having an investment of less than 25 lakhs, a bracket into which ‘Chai’ Wallas and ‘Pav’ Wallas could be covered.
It is estimated that there are 11.4 million small and medium enterprises in India. They employ close to 40% of India’s workforce which is about 28 million people. But these are just numbers. The question is, how do we sell to enterprises which form a large part of our country’s economic sphere yet contribute little around 7% to its GDP?
1. Value for money and Easy payment modes
Therein lays the truth. Small and medium enterprises do not have much money. They might not even have a source of capital and might need to mortgage their house to meet their finances. They are the courageous people who have ventured into the business world to make it big with small pocket.
The idea is to genuinely provide the value for their investment through world class products. Seeing immediate returns is something that can please these businesses and they’d be particularly happy if there are distributed payment modes.This is mostly the case if Saas/ Paas modules, which provide pay-per-use or pay-as-go services.
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2. Reliable and long-term support
There’s also a catch. The enterprise’s profit may be contingent on the services you provide. For example, when MyOperator brings in 200 new customers a month,the SME gets more profit from them, ensuring that their paychecks arrive on time.
Thus your service must be effective and offer them good support in the long run. They make more money, encouraging them to continue the partnership with your organization, and everyone goes home happy.
This guarantee of reliable service and support should not be just a non-committal expression while selling to SMEs. A demonstration will create good faith. For example, when you sign up for MyOperator’s free trial, you are immediately contacted by the customer executive and an account is created online, with constant SMS updates about your accounts functioning.
3. Pitching Competitive Advantage
The above two points may apply when selling to any organization, but SMEs fundamentally thrive more on competition than the big guns. Since there are so many SMEs coming up, if you pitch a product that will confer an advantage over their competitor, SMEs are generally impressed.
In addition, many SMEs also form a network among themselves. Thus if your product impresses one or few SMEs, the news might directly or vicariously reach the others in the network, who’ll more willingly come forward to learn about your service. The key is to show them that your product is a ‘must-have’ and not just ‘good-to-have’
4. Communication and Patience
The owners of SMEs are not stupid. They are very,very smart. But, they do not have time for jargon. Explain your product in simple terms and in a crisp way, and you’ll get them asking questions about it in no time. Assuming arrogance over the superiority of your knowledge and using manipulative jargon might just get you the boot.
Moreover, statistics show that only about 5% of SMEs have a website. One IT guru even talked about his experience with an SME entrepreneur. To get the client to understand his IT product, this he had to first introduce him to Skype and net banking. In the end the SME owner was more impressed with Skype than the IT product, but he did sign the deal, impressed by the guru’s patience and support.
This funny sounding acronyms, expands into ‘Top-of-the-mind Presence/ Awareness’, which in marketing, simply means that customers name your brand first, when asked about the similar services. You stay on top of their mind, and the key to achieving this to show them that your product is a ‘must-have’ and not just ‘good-to-have’. How do you do this? The points mentioned above might help, but at the end of the day, it’s about making them feel special. That leads us to customization
6. Customization and Focus
There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy in the SME market. SMEs are generally not alike. Even if they sell the same product, their demands may be different. The ideal is to customize the product and build the service around the SME’s need, rather than around your product. Try selling to one market at a time, which allows more focus.
Scalability, flexibility, ease of transfer of data, sufficient archives to save important info, prompts about missed calls and voice mails, are all attempts that voice tree has made to help customizeMyOperator to client needs.
The important point about selling to SMEs, is that with bigger enterprises, you’re just one among hundreds of products they buy. Whereas with SMEs , you might be the only service they’re learning about, and making it big with one or a few of these enterprises might propel your business forward by miles. So, even if it might take a long time to sell your first set-up, it might well be worth it to put your heart and soul in it.
The writer of this article, Ankitha Ramki is currently a student of Psychology, has written online content for magazines and worked as a reporter for the print media.
[Editor’s Note: This is part of a sponsored series by VoiceTree. VoiceTree provides complete call management solutions for small businesses to provide simpler affordable telephony.]