Guest Column | June 19, 2018

How To Better Understand Selling To Small Business Owners

By Marc Lighter, Paxis Technologies and ASCII Group member

A mentor of mine once said, “When selling a product or service, business owners are looking for two things: How does it make me money? Or, how does it save me money?” That was good advice then, but anyone who has spent time in sales knows simply providing something that satisfies one or both of those criteria doesn’t guarantee the sale. It’s a great start, for sure, but there are often variables in the products or services that make it difficult to quantify specific dollar amounts that lead to increased revenue or increased savings.

Small business owners have different and unique challenges in operating their businesses; they often wear many hats, work long hours, and usually operate on relatively small margins. For micro businesses, any additional spending often comes straight out of the business owners’ take-home pay. In these cases, a compelling offer must be presented to close the sale.

The challenge of getting a foothold into businesses with your product or service is typically centered around the pressure small business owners put on themselves to keep costs in line. However, when a product or service is needed, there are mental gymnastics the small business owner goes through to determine if the product or service they are interested in fits within their limited budget. Outlining a compelling story goes a long way to convincing a small business owner your product or service provides the best value for them.

You’ll undoubtedly find some small business owners focus solely on price. Unfortunately, these owners have not yet found value in finding products or services that add to the bottom line, but rather they are focused on saving a few dollars in the short term and patting themselves on the back for finding the lowest price. This short-term thinking is indicative of their underlying philosophy of running a business. Mainly, that cheaper is better. Other frugal business owners know they need the product or service but simply can’t afford it (as compelling as the need might be).

When you find the sweet spot in a prospect that needs what you’re selling (and can afford it), then they are often weighing your product or service against your competitors’. It’s time to differentiate yourself from your competition in a deeper way by building your story for the sale. You can do this by really getting to know the customer and their business. Research your prospect to learn how your product or service fits into their workflow or how it can improve their business processes. Find a unique quality of your offering that your competitor doesn’t have or a need that they can’t meet with their offering.

This is the crux of “solution selling” and is a very powerful mechanism in the modern sales process. It might require interviewing the customer more than once, taking inventory of their business processes, and investigating potential advantages. However, it shows your prospect you are willing to go further in understanding their needs than your competitors. Simply spending time to understand the buyer’s needs sends a very powerful message to them and will inevitably weigh in their decision-making process.

While in the process of investigation, it’s imperative not to be irritating or annoying. What you don’t want to do is give the impression you are wasting their time or are simply rooting around for a sale. Badgering a prospect by constantly calling or trying to find reasons to contact them will backfire. Establish a solid rapport, do your research, make the pitch, and give the prospect the time to make a decision. This can go a long way in building trust between a vendor and a customer and demonstrates a vested interest in the sale without coming off as pushy or annoying.

Providing a solution to a customer rather than simply selling a good or service can differentiate your offerings from your competitors as it demonstrates a higher level of sales professionalism, commitment to the sale, and helps build rapport with small business owners.

About The AuthorMarc Lighter, Paxis Technologies

Marc Lighter, MBA, MCT, MCSE, is vice president of Paxis Technologies and has been a member of The ASCII Group since 2015. Marc has more the 25 years’ experience helping businesses get value from strategic IT investments and generate more revenue by increasing their employee's productivity and finding new operational efficiencies.

About The ASCII Group, Inc.

The ASCII Group is a vibrant reseller community of independent MSPs, VARs, and other solution providers. Formed in 1984, ASCII has more than 70 programs that provide turnkey cost-cutting strategies, innovative business building programs, and extensive peer interaction. ASCII members enjoy benefits such as marketing support; educational information; group purchasing power; increased leverage in the marketplace; and multiple networking opportunities. These programs enable ASCII members to increase revenue, lower operating costs, and grow service opportunities. ASCII is the oldest and largest group of independent information technology (IT) solution providers, integrators and value added resellers (VARs) in the world. Learn more at