Why understanding the motivations of your different markets is critical to sales success

Collin Stewart, CEO

17 May 2018

It’s such an obvious idea it can almost seem an afterthought: a sales team should always mold its strategy to suit each of the markets it sells to.

After all, salespeople are always trying to connect with their prospects, and what better way than to speak their language and understand their concerns?

Small businesses, mid-market firms, the always desirable enterprise – each comes with its own motivations (and quirks), and should be communicated with according to those traits.

At least that’s how it should be.

The trouble with fast-moving sales teams is tactics, specifics, and gameplans can, sometimes, fall by the wayside. There’s always time to strategize and draw up playbooks after the close, right?

In a sense, of course, that’s true. Closing is what we’re here to do. But, without that institutional knowledge available to new and veteran salespeople alike, what are the dangers your company faces? What deals aren’t you closing as a result?

“I started my career doing commercial sales in the nonprofit world. From there, I transitioned to corporate sales and small business, and eventually to larger enterprise opportunities. To be very transparent, it was always very hard for me to ramp up. And it’s because I wasn’t applying unique tactics to the markets,” says Gabriel Moncayo, CEO and Co-Founder of sales education firm Always Hired, on a recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.

After enough time of failing early on, I realized there was a lot of transferable skills between roles, but each opportunity was unique. And I was really trying to maximize myself at each role. You might put up a lot of activity metrics if you aren’t changing your approach, but when those metrics don’t translate to numbers, there’s going to be some frustration.”

The different markets

The road to tailoring your tactics to different markets begins with defining what those different markets are.

Full disclosure: there is loads of nuance in each market. Not all small businesses are the same, nor is every mid-market firm. But, for the purposes of this summary, we’re going to isolate potential markets to:

  • Small business (on a subscription basis, these are deal sizes up to $500 per month);
  • Mid-market (deal sizes ranging from $501 to $2K per month, again, on a subscription basis);
  • Enterprise (more than 2K per month, on subscription)

Small business

“This is a different type of buyer,” says Moncayo.

“Selling to small business typically means you’re high on call volume – maybe 100 calls and 20 emails per day. And a lot of that activity is probably based on follow ups, sending terms and things like that.”

The reason for this high-octane selling, adds Moncayo, is because it’s easy to reach a decision maker. For example, if you sell to boutiques, the odds of you getting an owner on the phone during business hours is pretty good. The owners may be the primary staff members, working the floor as well as handling all of the back office responsibilities.

As a result of that tightrope walk, small business owners are rarely at their desks, free to answer your prospecting emails.

“They run around all day. They just aren’t around the computer,” says Moncayo.

“Most of the emailing with them is to confirm an appointment, or send a proposal. But, typically, it’s not done to generate an appointment.”

While it may be easy to catch them with a quick phone call, the hectic life of a mom and pop shop owner does bring its own set of significant challenges – it can be difficult to get them to commit (and show up) to meetings.

Something always comes up.

“I’ve worked for a company that sold to small business owners. We realized that a lot of customers had to reschedule, or would no-show. When we called them, they would say ‘sorry, I had to take my kid to class,’ or something like that,” says Moncayo.

“They weren’t used rescheduling appointments.”

Once you do get a small business owner into a meeting,Moncayo says, it’s important to understand that their buying decisions are often emotionally driven. The success of the business – every sale, every campaign, every breakthrough – directly impacts the owners and their family.

“From a high level, a small business owner’s priority is probably putting food on the table for the family. They are thinking about their family, and how their family will benefit from their immediate actions,” says Moncayo.

“It is much more emotional. You will be communicating in ways that will relate back to their family. You won’t necessarily be communicating in value props.”

The mid-market

Moving upstream to mid-size firms, however, means a change in tone and outreach. Unlike the personal aspect to small business sales, mid-market buyers are more focused on operational efficiencies, and how buying your good or service will help them continue to grow. And that information is generally shared via email prospecting, as opposed to on-the-fly calls.

Mid-market companies, adds Moncayo, are often trying to becoming enterprise organizations, so concise communication about how your company can help them achieve that goal will resonate.

“Now you’re likely dealing with companies that generate millions and millions of dollars in revenue per year,” says Moncayo.

“This requires a more logical approach to the sale. And it’s your job to apply that logic and illustrate how your tool will produce the numbers they need them get them to where they need to go.”

But that data-driven approach, warns Moncayo, shouldn’t mean you abandon all emotion in you’re selling. In a mid-market firm, you will likely be selling to members of the executive team – in some cases you may even be speaking with a founder. Those team members all have deep ties to the company, and are wholly focused on ensuring their ambitious targets are met.

“These companies are grinding to become that hundred million dollar company. They want that status,” says Moncayo.

“As a result, there is small emotional component of them trying to get to the next level.”

The enterprise 

The golden goose. The whale. The unicorn. The prize catch every salesperson is looking to nab (thank you commission cheque!).

But this sales cycle isn’t for the faint of heart. It can be complex, requiring multiple meetings with different decision makers. And unlike small businesses and mid-market companies, you’re like not dealing with founders or C-level executives. More often than not, you’re selling to leaders of one department or business unit.

As such, this sale becomes even more operationally focused. You aren’t directly affecting the family of the owner, nor are you giving the company a tool that will help catapult them to their next, long-desired phase of growth.

What you’re doing is helping one specific team hit its goals.

“For an enterprise buyer, it’s a lot more value driven. It’s all about the numbers. These buyers understand the concept of evaluating multiple vendors, and they understand the concept of maximizing ROI. That is all they are focused on,” says Moncayo.

“They are focused on creating efficiency with what they already have. So, you approach has to be very data driven.”

If there is any emotional pull at all in the enterprise sale, it’s that there are plenty of opportunities for face-to-face meetings. Because the deal size is significant, it’s worth it to hop on a plane and visit a prospect’s office, or make an appearance at a conference they are attending.

You can afford to get to know your prospect, in person. You can present to their team. You can shake their hand.

“This is a big part of the process for an enterprise sales,” says Moncayo.

“It make sense to spend a thousand dollars on a plane ticket to go see a prospect. It’s worth it.”

For more on Moncayo’s playbook for selling to different markets, check out his recent edition of The Predictable Revenue Podcast.