The 2014 SMB Sales Landscape — Explained

At Pardot, we spend a lot of time talking about SMBs — but we want to do more than just look at their pain points and triumphs. We want to give you some hard data.

In May of 2014, Bredin, Inc. conducted a survey of 532 principals of U.S SMB companies and discovered some interesting sales trends among SMBs. The objective of the study? To give SMB marketers a current perspective on SMB sales preferences. If you’re an SMB marketer (or sales rep!) interested in the sales landscape, here are a few stats that you might find helpful to your marketing and selling strategies:

Q: In general, where would you say you first learn about new products and services for your business?


1. Direct from vendors (websites, trade shows, sales reps)

2. Business news media / review sites / blogs

3. Other business owners / peers / colleagues

What we can learn: We know that buyers are spending a majority of the buying process researching on their own. It’s imperative that today’s businesses include easy-to-find information on their websites. Your buyers are looking for helpful information that can address their interests, needs, and pain points — it’s up to your business to provide that information through targeted content.

Q: If you could only learn about new products and services for your business in one way, what would it be?

Answer: Word of mouth

What we can learn: You’ve probably heard the statistic that it can take twelve positive reviews to reverse the damage caused by a single negative one. Your buyers are often relying on word of mouth marketing to inform their decisions, which is why it’s so important to ensure that what they’re hearing is positive. Focus on creating quality case studies that your buyers can peruse to learn more about your clients’ experiences with your product, and encourage your brand evangelists to leave positive reviews on any outside review-aggregating sites.

Q: Once your company has decided to investigate a new product or service for your business, who typically leads the research?

Answer: Me (74%)

What we can learn: A majority of buyers are conducting research themselves and then escalating up to their managers or c-level execs. Keep this trend in mind when creating your marketing content. While top-of-funnel content is great for the everyday buyer, you’ll need to create more targeted resources that your buyers can use to make a case to upper management (think ROI calculators and buyer’s guides).

Q: How often do you want to hear from a salesperson?

Answer: Over 70% responded, “On an ongoing basis, for example via occasional calls or emails”

What we can learn: Your buyers want to hear from you, but they don’t want to hear from you too frequently. There’s a fine line between staying in touch on an ongoing basis and being over-communicative, which is why many marketers turn to lead nurturing to stay top-of-mind with buyers over time. Take a look at the next question to see exactly how often your buyers want to hear from you.

Q: How often would you like a vendor to contact you when you are not yet ready to buy?

Answer: Once a month (31%), I prefer to reach out to them as needed (27%), Once every three months (20%)

What we can learn: In general, if your buyers aren’t quite ready to buy, they don’t really want to hear from you more than once a month. It’s likely that they’re conducting research on their own during this time, and will reach out if they have a question or need more information. Be a resource for your buyers, but don’t pester them.

Q: What are the four most important aspects of marketing content from a vendor?


1. It provides information on a product or service I’m interested in

2. It clearly describes the benefits of the product or service

3. It is easy to understand

4. It is well-written

What we can learn: In Mathew Sweezey’s recent report on customer engagement, he discussed the importance of authentic content — and the impact that a negative experience with content can have on your buyers. Keep these four criteria in mind when developing your marketing content in order to ensure that your buyers are getting everything they need from your content.

We hope these stats help you get a better feel for today’s selling landscape. Feel free to leave any comments or questions in the comments!