Why Small Business Hate You – Reason #1

One of the proven shortcomings of “push marketing” is its inability to listen.  Sure, we all get our reports showing “open” rates, click-thrus, downloads, forms-filled, etc., and we think those data points constitute a real response to our pushiness, a dialogue indicating we’re being communicated with by the SMB targets, albeit in grunts and nods.  They’ve acknowledged us. They’re receptive.  They’ve linked.  We translate that e-mail open to movement down another level of the sales funnel and we’re pretty darned excited, because the way we see it, this week they seem a little more likely to like us, which is great because last week they didn’t like us at all and we re-wrote the copy so the value prop was clearer and the “click here” was bigger and…  


We’re stuck in push marketing hell.  We’re not really listening.  We’re interpolating.  And we keep pushing.


We’ve habituated ourselves to thrusting sales and marketing one-liners on the target, like so many different jelly beans, like a big old game of Bean Boozled.  “Here in my hand are all my product talking points.”  Could be Passion Fruit.  Could be Boogers.  Problem is you’re not the one taste-testing these beans – it’s your SMB prospect.  They have no idea what they’re getting.  And they’ve bitten into one too many “Stinky Socks.”  


That’s Reason #1 why Small Business hate you.  You push yourself on them without even a modest effort to listen first. You make them play Bean Boozled.  You make them guess what they’ll get from you the very first moment you meet them, instead of simply asking them what they need.


Maybe it’s time to play differently.  No more mystery beans thrust forward in your effort to push your sales and marketing agenda.  How’s about every sales or marketing dialogue with a prospective SMB-customer begins with, “Hey, I just want to listen to you for a while.”


“That’s naive,” says a 25-year-veteran of the Yellow Pages business.  “If I don’t come up with a good reason to talk to me in the first 10 seconds, then I’ve got no chance for a warm-fuzzy dialogue with your typical SMB.  They don’t have time.


Ok. Let’s step back for a minute.  What do we believe is the first sale we make to an SMB prospect?  Hint: it’s not your product or service.  It’s not even you (as Enterprise or individual.)  It’s time, or more precisely, the expenditure of time.  The currency of minutes, even seconds.  


Our research of thousands of SMBs counts their time as equally if not more valuable than money.  Maybe not surprising – they can make more money, but they can’t make more time.  From time, all things SMB flows. The time to engage. The time to consider. The time to reorder a day to make time for you.  


So consider that we’re trying to pitch and close the “sale of time” with a skeptical, even cynical, SMB.  The product is “something worth listening to.”  Or you (Enterprise or individual) are “someone worth listening to.”


Required reading: “Youtility,” by Jay Baer. 


This is not guesswork.  You don’t succeed with trial and error.  You have to ask what’s worth listening to.  This is not as simple as a “purchase intents” study.  Your mission is to discover what SMBs find valuable, what jobs they are trying to get done, what needs they have right in this very moment.  In a nutshell, “How can I help?”

The sales and marketing equation flips: you are no longer pushing, your SMB prospect is pulling.  We can’t overstate the value of that new formula.  Instead of pushing a handful of mystery beans, you are reaching into your kit of jelly beans and pulling out precisely the flavor that’s been asked for.  And that’s pretty sweet.  (3778)
Blog Notes


#1  You don’t listen to them.

#2  You don’t care about them.

#3  You don’t respect them.

#4  You don’t speak their language.

#5  You don’t accommodate them.


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