How selling to SMBs and enterprise companies is different

Just as kids aren’t tiny adults, SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) aren’t just bite-sized enterprise companies. SMBs and enterprise companies have different purchasing triggers, timelines for making buying decisions, and product expectations.

So it stands to reason that you’ll need different sales techniques if you’re targeting SMBs, because an enterprise approach is likely to be less effective.

In this post you’ll learn the key differences between selling to SMBs and enterprise companies, so you can hone in on the right approach.


Different purchase triggers

SMBs tend to make purchases that solve for specific problems. They have less capital and their focus is usually on quickly becoming more stable or profitable. Enterprise companies, on the other hand, are more likely to make purchases that support their broad or long-term goals toward increased growth, cost savings, and greater efficiency.

Different timelines

Enterprise companies tend to have a considerable number of stakeholders from different parts of the business who need to weigh in on purchasing decisions. They have a clearly-defined process with more red tape and reporting than SMBs, especially if it’s a publicly traded company. The first step—getting a pitch to the desk of a decision-maker—can be a long journey in and of itself. Once it arrives and is under consideration, there are stakeholder meetings and sign-off processes that result in more time to make a purchase decision—and even longer to implement.

An enterprise sales process can easily go on for 9 months, whereas an SMB sales cycle typically ranges from a few days to a couple of months. With SMBs, sales emails to info@ and sales@ are often routed directly to the business owner’s inbox and it’s not uncommon for the business telephone number to be the CEO’s cell phone.

SMBs also tend to buy what they need when they need it—so it pays to be the first salesperson to pitch. Once an SMB decides they need a product or service, they’re more likely (and more able) to move quickly, making a decision so their business can benefit from the purchase.

Different product expectations

Unlike enterprise companies, SMBs are less likely to ask for customization. They need a product that fits as-is, and they’re more likely to want something that delivers immediate ROI. Enterprise businesses tend to have longer-term expectations, and consequently, are more willing to invest in customization. Know which SMBs need your product now, as-is, and have the resources to make an immediate purchase.

Know which SMBs need your product now, as-is, and have the resources to make an immediate purchase.”

Different levels of personalization

According to the Salesforce State of Marketing report, 87% of marketers say personalization improves their overall marketing program—and we think it makes the biggest impact with SMBs.

Selling to enterprise businesses usually involves multiple touchpoints, meeting with a number of stakeholders and presenting in-person demos. But an SMB sales process is more likely to occur remotely, with few in-person meetings, if any. Moreover, there’s a much higher likelihood that the person approving the SMB purchase is also the business’ owner. Their buying decisions impact their personal bottom line and as we discussed earlier, they’re usually making fairly quick purchase decisions to solve a specific problem.

Customized messaging that speaks to their unique goals and challenges is likely to get a warm response. You can have every email and telephone number for millions of SMBs, but without context, converting them is a lot harder. Context trumps contact. That said, it’s ideal to have both!

“You can have every email and telephone number for millions of SMBs, but without context, converting them is a lot harder. ”

Stay tuned for an in-depth post about how to support your reps – both inside sales and outside sales – in reaching their quota by enriching your CRM data with context and contacts.

Ready to put these ideas into action? Give BuzzBoard’s free trial a whirl. We’d love to know more about your experiences selling to SMBs and how we can help you to overcome any challenges.

Scroll to Top