Benchmark Bytes: When Do SMBs Prefer Automated SaaS Purchasing?

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 where SMB SaaS sales can go wrong, we switch gears this week to examine their attitudes on automated sales.

In fact, you may remember from last week that 40 percent of SMBs prefer an automated process of buying Saas products, as opposed to physical sales reps. Though this bodes well for automation, it’s worth noting that this figure is down from 57 percent in Wave V –surprising given all-things remote these days.

Drilling down into their sentiments, 91 percent of SMBs look for automation when the product itself isn’t too complicated. 81 percent say that automation is ideal if they can cancel anytime, and connect with live reps if they need to. 64 percent meanwhile prefer automation when they already know what they want.

Conversely, reasons SMBs would want a live salesperson include having someone to turn to if something goes wrong (65 percent). That’s followed by mistrust of automated systems (52 percent); inability to negotiate on price(42 percent); and a general preference for human interaction (35 percent).

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What Does it All Mean?

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

— Among SMBs who are inclined to use an automated process to buy SaaS products, it often depends on the product.

— For example, if the product is relatively simple (e.g. business email), a live rep doesn’t add much to the process.

— Similarly, with commodities that don’t have lots of optionality and SMBs already know what they want, live reps aren’t noticeably additive.

— Price also comes into the equation… less expensive products are more conducive to automated/online purchasing (40 percent).

— As for SMBs who prefer live sales reps, the biggest reasons all trace back to a sense of confidence or “security blanket” for support and/or troubleshooting.

— The biggest movers on this list were SMBs who are willing to use automation “If I know I will have access to live customer support after the purchase.” This fell from 62 percent in Wave V to 29 percent in this wave.

— This could be Covid-related as SMBs are gaining more confidence in their own ability to manage software remotely.

— Another notable trend over Wave V is the drop in interest around fully automated sales processes in general — 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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