Last week, Localogy published a white paper in partnership with Mono Solutions that examines an important question for any selling media or technology solutions to small businesses. Are SMBs willing to self-purchase these media or tech-based products through some kind of intelligent buying platform?
The report, “The Buy-It-Yourself Future: Is it Already Here?” (now available for download) features a survey of about 100 representatives of companies selling media and technology solutions to SMBs. The survey covered a variety of aspects of the core question, form their perception of SMB willing to automate to their own use of sales automation and the benefits they hope to achieve.
One compelling finding was the almost universal view that SMBs are willing to self-purchase. Among respondents, 85% said they believed small businesses either already self-purchase or are willing to do so in the future.
Further, we found that more than half of the respondents indicated they already are automating at least some aspect of their sales process, and more than half of those that do not currently automate the sales process would do so in the future.
Automation is occurring at every step of the sales process, however more so at the lead generation and lead qualifications stage than at the point of closing the sale.
Among those who currently automate some element of sales, 22% indicated they have no further plans to automate their sales process. The rest indicated plans to automate further. Notably, the number who have automated or plan to automate the close totals 43%.
These data tell a somewhat mixed story. While there is widespread belief in the notion of SMBs using self-purchase platforms, not everyone is fully on board with automating their own sales processes.
This may in part be a reflection of a theme that comes up again and again in the white paper. There is a spectrum of media and technology products that SMBs purchase. And some along this spectrum are more easily purchased via a self-purchase platform than others.
Many of those we interviewed for the report expressed the view that products that are seen as “commodities” are more easily handled via self-purchase. Domains is the most commonly cited example of this category. Other products, including many in digital marketing, haven’t been fully embraced by SMBs and it requires a skilled salesperson to make the case for the value of that product.
This continuum is dynamic, not static, meaning today’s hard sell could be tomorrow’s commodity. From the white paper:
“At one point, hosting was sold. Today it is bought,” said Josh Melick, founder and former CEO of Broadly, a company that sold reviews management software directly to SMBs with an inside sales force.
Melick recalls that hosting companies would compete over features like load balancing or server reliability.
“Once all the software got written, and standardized, it became a commodity. Then there was a race to the bottom on price. Then it was bought, not sold.”
While we are at pains to make the distinction between BIY and DIY in this report, it’s useful to look at which products SMBs are willing to DIY as a possible indicator of which they may also BIY. Many of the same assumptions apply.
The 2018 Localogy/Mono White Paper, “Meet the New SMB SaaS Customer,” featured a survey of small business owners asking which service model (DIY, DIFM, DIWM) they preferred for which products in the digital marketing stack.
The two most commonly DIY’d products were domains and websites.
We encourage you to download and read the white paper. We will also address the topic of BIY for SMB in a February 27 webinar. Stay tuned for details.