Benchmark Bytes: When Do Local Sales Go Wrong?

As part of the ritual of examining local commerce and SMB Saas strategies, Localogy goes right to the source: SMBs themselves. How do they feel about marketing and operational software? What features do they want? And how has their hunger changed during a global pandemic that has hit local businesses hardest?

Localogy’s Modern Commerce Monitor (MCM) wave 6.1 answers these and other questions across the SMB SaaS product set, which we preview in this Benchmark Bytes series. After the last installment examined SMBs’ satisfaction levels with sales, we switch gears this week to examine how those experiences can go south.

The biggest reason that SMBs were dissatisfied is that the sales rep didn’t seem knowledgeable. 56 percent of respondents echoed that sentiment, up from 48 percent in Wave V of the research. Other sentiments included the fact that the sales rep was too aggressive — 35 percent, down from 44 percent in Wave V.

35 percent of SMBs meanwhile felt that sales reps were ill-prepared, while 34 percent felt they didn’t understand the business and 30 percent felt the salesperson didn’t listen. 57 percent of SMBs prefer automated sales, while 31 percent prefer automation in some cases, and 29 percent prefer human reps.

Localogy members can access full charts and SMB survey reports. Non members can purchase reports

What Does it All Mean?

Going a bit deeper, a few things jump out at us:

— Many of the reasons for SMB dissatisfaction with sales experiences have a common thread: under-prepared or under-educated reps.

— Lack of knowledge (56 percent), being underprepared (35 percent) and lack of understanding of the business (34 percent) all fall into this category.

— This is a clear call to action for local sales organizations to deploy reps that are better prepared and knowledgable. Though it’s an investment, these survey results indicate that it would be well spent.

— The most prevalent SMB sentiment in these results — feeling that sales reps aren’t knowledgable — is also the biggest mover, growing 8 percentage points over Wave V

— This could be related to the timing (read: Covid), as local sales organizations were in flux over the past year, possibly resulting in sales rep turnover that in turn impacted the quality of service and knowledge.

— Meanwhile, some sentiments declined significantly from Wave V of the research, including the feeling that salespeople are too aggressive (down 9 points); that they’re unresponsive or hard to reach (down 13 points); and they don’t listen (down 9 points).

— This could likewise be timing/Covid related as circumstances curb salesperson aggressiveness or improve their response time.

— Another notable trend over Wave V is the drop in interest around fully automated sales processes — down from 57 percent to 40 percent.

— This is counterintuitive, as we’d expect acclimation to automated and remote technologies to be in greater demand.

— It seems things shifted in the opposite direction, potentially due to SMBs’ hunger for human interactions as it was pulled from them in the Covid era.


Time to Shine

Stepping back, SMB online services adoption tracked by MCM continues to grow rapidly.  SMB SaaS startups and online services providers are correspondingly thriving with exit velocity, funding, and public-market performance. SMB SaaS is becoming a leading subsector of the broader SaaS universe.

Meanwhile, new SMB SaaS users could represent permanent adopters — a concept that’s accelerated in the Covid era as SMBs are forced to boost their digital transformation. This sends them into the arms of SaaS providers to accomplish a range of operational and marketing functions.

We’ll return in the next installment to go deeper on other areas of SMB technology adoption. That will include the types of SMB SaaS software that resonate most. Let us know what additional insights jump out at you from the above data, and stay tuned for more breakdowns in our Benchmark Bytes series.

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