Many companies claim to have products, services and customer service specifically geared to small businesses. The important thing for YOU is to know what companies you should take the time to develop long term relationships with who are TRULY focused on meeting YOUR needs.
In September, Cisco announced new solutions specifically designed to help small businesses secure and connect their business.. The key components of this enhanced focus include:
- Cisco working closer with partners to help them sell better to small business
- additions to its existing line of small business communication products
- financing is one of the biggest challenges small businesses
- Cisco is providing interest free financing
Earlier this month Sprint announced the formation of its Small Business specialty team to sharpen the company’s focus on the rapidly growing small business market segment.
According to Sprint’s press release The Small Business team will serve as a single, common interface for all groups across Sprint that sell and serve small business clients to ensure consistent focus on addressing the unique needs of business owners and their employees. The Sprint groups include marketing, customer experience, product development and all channels that reach small business customers, including telesales, online/web, Sprint retail stores, and third-party retail partners.
What does it really mean to be focused on small businesses?
I don’t think it means ONE thing, but I think at the highest level it means understanding that “big business” is definitely different from small businesses.
Big businesses have much of their own support. They have bigger budgets. They have more resources. They take longer to purchase. I could go on.
For smaller businesses, the market is quite different and difficult for vendors selling to them to fully grasp:
- Some rely on a local IT consultant.
- Many rely on their local retail store, like Staples or BestBuy for their IT needs and help.
- Many rely on online retailers such as CDW or Dell
- Some look to their PC hardware vendor, such as Dell, HP or Lenovo.
Business selling to small businesses should first and foremost FORGET about the small business market. They should have FIRST class customer support. FIRST class products.
Let’s look at Amazon.com – are they “small business” focused. No, they have great customer support, a great web site and etc.
What about Verizon Wireless. Their customer support is marvelous and they are innovating all the time.
My point is that you can’t have crappy products and customer support and then slap a “small business label” on your products or issue a press release.
What does this mean to you?
As you are looking for companies to purchase technology from, look for companies that in WORD and DEED have great products and great customer support. Look for companies whose sales staff go out of their way to help you.
These are the kind of companies that are truly small business focused.
Sure, there are many things companies can do to make them easier to work with. For example, maybe you’re using a companies products and want to add accounts for 9 other staff members. You should not have to buy 9 separate accounts but should be able to add these 9 accounts to a central account.
Does the company force you to use a credit card? They should at least be able to bill you with a net 30 day invoice and let you pay by check.
I asked technology consultant Chris Zawacki of Green House IT about Cisco’s move to the small business market. He said: I view Cisco as a staple of the technology world providing great business-class products. However, when you speak about the true small business marketplace, under 100 employees, their products are expensive relative to their competition, over-built for most small businesses needs, and not backed by an easily accessible support structure. This makes gaining market share in that space a difficult proposition for Cisco; it just isn’t where their focus is.
Another indication of how focused, especially larger companies who have the resources to do so, a company is on the small business market, look at what they do beyond selling just their products.
Let’s look at Intuit, their entire home page has been transformed into a portal for small business success.
Dell launched a line of products, Vostro, specifically geared to small businesses.
Microsoft is one of the leading companies focused on small businesses. Check out this portal. Their products most always have verticals for small businesses.
Network Solutions is aggressively saying and doing small business. Its GrowSmartBiz conference an outgrowth of its small business success index is proof of this.
Let’s not forget the dozens of great companies whose products are ONLY focused on the small business market – InfusionSoft, BatchBlue and many others.
What about Sprint? Sprint’s Business on Main portal is a POWERFUL showcase of what Sprint has done, to in WORD and DEED, help small businesses.