How to break the small barrier

By Mike Stolz on May 26, 2008 8:23 AM
Filed under Training & Development

Losing a pitch for an SME deal is confusingly common, but this is often simply because requirements are different.

Gone are the days when products aimed at SMEs were hard to come by; today a large number of technology vendors offer solutions targeting these types of end user.

So why are resellers finding it hard to close deals with such a wide range of products from which to choose? The answer is simple: most of the solutions do not stand up to scrutiny because they were originally designed for larger organisations.

The scenario unravels as follows: valuable time and effort is spent outlining how the product is going to address the issues the prospective client is facing. They seem interested and ask to try out the hardware or software; however, they later say the product was too difficult to set up, too complex to manage or too costly to run. Why? Because SMEs have a completely different set of requirements from larger enterprises.

Typically, the IT department is made up of just one or two people who cannot spend hours every day babysitting the company’s servers and network. Also, the IT budget is usually fairly limited.

So how can the channel make money in the SME market? The first step is to understand the needs and requirements of each prospect; no two opportunities are the same. Once the brief has been established suggest a service or solution that will tick all the boxes. Submitting a product that does the job but is too costly will not work. Similarly, an organisation where a small IT department has to run the entire infrastructure is unlikely to purchase a solution that requires a third party to install or maintain it.

As a rule of thumb, services for SMEs should be affordable yet comprehensive; for example a support contract might need to cover the entire network, not just the servers. When it comes to software, ensure it is user friendly yet exhaustive: simple does not have to mean basic. And any hardware should not be proprietary; SMEs like commodity solutions because they tend to be more cost effective and flexible.

With SMEs, think small but perfectly formed.

Mike Stolz is vice president of sales and marketing at StorMagic

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How to break the small barrier
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