Selling to the SMB: Relevance, Trust and Credibility Matter More Than Ever

Oh, the lost art of breaking through to your buyer — especially your SMB prospects! One thing we have forgotten as sales professionals is the amount of noise that flows through the four walls from the sales world with often mundane and mediocre outreach methods.

In another life, getting in front of the right contacts in your territory from your list of SMB business was much less painful. In 2020, it’s frustrating. The average contact is going to take more than 12 touches before you will be able to speak to them. And even when you make that first contact, you’ve got a fairly long road ahead of you, unless they’re right in the middle of their contract and looking to upgrade, or at the end of their lease. But these are rare gems and not even close to the majority of the people you call on.

Here’s the simple fact behind why: buyers are looking for relevance, familiarity, trust, credibility and/or impact. Most salespeople, on the other hand, lead with a surface-level value statement about saving money, automating document processes, buying out leases, and getting 15 minutes on the calendar.

We have forgotten the art of curiosity.

We have disconnected ourselves from those we once called our neighbors.

And if you’re reading this during the COVID-19 pandemic, you have to add an extra layer to this entire thing.

For the salespeople who are thriving, their focus on prospecting, their mindset, and the way they build a pipeline are all at the forefront of their success.

Your focus needs to be around adapting to what the SMBs in your area are doing in order to continue operating right now in a remote business world.

Let’s talk about the three most important subjects and everything you can focus on right now in order to change the trajectory of your outcomes.

Rebellious outreach

Let’s talk about cold dials, cold emails, and cold knocks.

For the most part, the sales world has adopted the idea that if you can call on 500 people a week then you’ll eventually catch someone in a weak moment looking for your product or service.

Right now, you’re reaching out to a ton of SMBs hoping for that weak moment instead of focusing on building credibility and cultivating an undeniable sense of curiosity. So let’s break down what kind of experiences your prospects are having when you’re not focused on changing the game. If you‘re slinging business cards, slick talk tracks, busy brochures, and the promise of savings in order to secure some appointments you probably resemble a loaf of bread at the grocery store — you’re not giving the prospect much of an experience.

Every salesperson should be equipped with comprehensive marketing tools that are experiential for your prospect, because they’ve seen everything else before. In the past, I’ve used a series of letters that were all themed around “what you do with all the sales garbage that comes across the desk?” For example, one of the letters was “pre-burnt” to make it easier for the prospect to “light it up.” That should give you an idea of what the rest of the campaign looked like.

Here’s a recipe for this type of rebellious outreach:


• Radically Educate. This is the use of first touch and experiential campaigns during your initial outreach.

• Attention. The first conversation you have with a prospect should not be “Hi, I’m with this company trying to do this thing and would like 15 minutes on your calendar.” Instead, captivate your buyer’s attention by providing a proactive approach to your pitch.

• Story. To use storytelling methodology is to focus on activating the brain, creating familiarity, and expressing pain points in a more emotional way that captivates the buyer and helps them feel at the center of the tale.

• Outline. This is about creating a result, setting expectations, and practicing empathy with the prospect as you work to earn their business.

• Nuance. This is the sea your REASON swims in. It’s about being your authentic self from start to finish.

So, when in doubt, remember to give your prospects a REASON, all while causing curiosity and creating impact.

Note: remember that your prospecting efforts have to drastically change right now during the pandemic we’re experiencing. Adopting digital concepts, using the playbook around reconnaissance, and evolving with your buyer is critical.

Mindset of a rebel

The way you think is the way you act. If you’re frustrated with your efforts, tired of rejection, or holding in resentment or any other type of negative emotion, you will not be doing yourself any favors. And you definitely won’t be helping your prospect’s perception of you. A poor mindset will result in sounding desperate and displaying a lack of confidence, and it will not establish credibility with your prospect.

An internal struggle can cause an external failure when out prospecting and during any other part of your sales cycle or even in your post-sale process. The key to avoiding failure revolves around excellent communication, awareness of self and awareness of others.

Here are some important things to remember in order to have a rebel mindset in your sales walk:

Choosing Legendary

• Be Intentional. Are you being intentional in your relationship with yourself and with your prospects or are you just going through the motions?

• Give Empathy. Are you leading with an agenda? Or are you letting your prospect decide if they see themselves getting into something more favorable?

• Cause Wonder. The idea here is to be something very rare or unexpected to those you encounter.

• Be a Servant Leader. Are you serving those within your community without expectation of reward, and are you doing it from the bottom of your heart?

Remember that your mindset will dictate your overall success during your sales walk, so it is extremely important to be mindful of it.

A living pipeline

Your pipeline is rusted, old, and it’s leaking. Breathe life into your pipeline and bring it back from the dead!

In the midst of a pandemic, suddenly your 30/60/90 became very inaccurate and hard to measure due to companies putting projects on hold

But I also want you to ask yourself, how accurate was it before the pandemic?

How many times did you place someone in a closed bucket before paperwork was signed and they pushed to another month, or even another quarter?

How many times did you mark a deal as won, then lost them to the competition?

One of the biggest reasons for an inaccurate pipeline is scarcity. If we do not live in abundance, we will constantly be trying to shove people through our funnel in order to close some deals and satisfy the quota gods.

One of the biggest issues of them all is that our pipeline is nearsighted. We don’t have many more buckets than a 30/60/90 that are active. For a sales rep, the ABCs of closing slowly become, “Always Be Chasing” because of this. Chasing quotas, chasing new deals, chasing any kind of close they can find, chasing their sales career.

So here are some important things to remember when building a pipeline that is alive.

• Experiential Touchpoints/Campaigns. Create experiential sequences and get rid of your “just checking in” emails in order to immerse the buyer into your company culture and a more active sequence/cadence that no other sales rep is implementing in your territory.

• Active and Passive “Branches.” An active branch is time-based. For example, a two-year branch focuses on a specific point in the future; ideally, when the contract renews. A passive branch acts as a generalized prospect profile and needs experiential and time-sensitive triggers to slow-dance them into a sales cycle.

• Communication Strategies and Guidelines. Maybe you got hung up on or the conversation just did not go anywhere, either way you have probably fallen victim to generalizing communication and relaying “value” that is perceived and not factual to the buyer. A communication focus around your active and passive branches is critical to successfully nurturing the prospect into a sales cycle.

Create a more efficient 90-day outlook and understand the long game better. Recognize that there are a few distinct types of prospects and that you can be more intentional when communicating with them. And, lastly, realize that time is the actual currency of sales, so use it wisely.

Remember the definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. Your prospect is looking for something and someone to catch their attention. They want to be impacted, they would prefer relevance, and are more open to a familiar feeling. Remember, all things considered, people would prefer to do business with those they like and trust. A living pipeline is centered around this belief.

Dale Dupree is known as The Copier Warrior. He provides sales training and development through his firm, The Sales Rebellion, that challenges the status quo.