If you are not top of mind, you will miss small business sales

It is well known that big businesses have established processes for considering new suppliers of communications and IT services. It is generally assumed that smaller businesses are much less sophisticated. But what does that really mean for marketing and selling to them?

Innovation Observatory specialises in helping ICT providers to understand their customers, and to find new ways of selling and marketing to them. To support our work we have been surveying UK businesses to get a really good sense of what they buy, and how they buy.

Looking for instance at purchasing of telecoms, our data suggests that around 31% of UK small and medium-sized organisations (SMOs, including enterprises, public and third sector) have no formal process for reviewing services; they don’t really think about it. This does not mean they do not ever change supplier, nor that they don’t buy communications – far from it. This group will trundle on with their existing services until something prompts them to change – a good offer, or a service break - and they will then simply switch to the better offer sitting right in front of them. That offer might come from their existing provider, or from a new provider.

Another group of organisations representing just under a quarter of UK SMOs (24%) do have processes and do consider changing supplier, but when they go out to the market they only ask one or two providers for a quotation.


Number of suppliers ask to bid for communications services by UK SMOs

So if you are a supplier of communications services to small and medium-sized organisations in the UK, a whopping 55% of all your potential customers will not buy your services unless you are top of mind. You have to be one of the two suppliers they ask for a quotation, or you have to be in the right place, at the right time, with your attractive offer.

And it would be a mistake to assume these smaller organisations do not buy much. Around a third of these companies are sophisticated users of ICT services. That means they use a wide range of communications and IT services and applications. They are really valuable customers. Vendors of telecoms, IT and software services all need to work out how to segment their SMO customer bases so that they can identify these organisations and so they can engage with them in a way that does not cost far more than can ever be recouped through sales, and which hits the right buying triggers. But they cannot simply treat them all as ‘pro-sumers’.

If you would like to know more about how you can rethink your approach to marketing and selling to enterprise, public and third sector customers, make sure you stay signed up to our emails, a key part of our new toolbox Marketing ICT to business: Essential insights and practical tips. We will be offering a load of research into what customers want, how they buy ICT, and analysis and ideas about how to reach them.

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