Anyone that thinks that selling SaaS into the small business market is easy – hasn’t done it before. It’s taken a huge amount of work to get out there and just talk to lots and lots of people.
Small business owners are very busy. They aren’t looking for new solutions and they usually haven’t had good experiences with software. So for our first year it was hand to hand combat. Each sale we had to win.
But a year or so in and we’re starting to see the benefits of that hard work. I was in Hawkes Bay with the family when I stopped off to pick up some stuff from a local small business. The owner spotted me looping the building looking for a park and came down to serve me himself. I asked how his business was going and he said it’s booming but all that growth is stretching his systems.
Never one to miss an opportunity I of course asked what he used for his accounting system. He responded with the well known 4 letter word brand and I asked how that was going. Normal response of frustration.
With 2 fingers already around my business cards I introduced myself to which his eye lit up and said ‘Xero’, my son was raving about it last week. He’s been on for two months and loves it. We’re looking at changing soon.
That’s the sort of response that we’re starting to hear more and more. We’ve learned that small business is about word of mouth, not advertising.
You do need to build a brand. A great way to accelerate your brand through partnering. Here’s an example of how the BNZ promotes us inside their business banking site.
Linking ourselves to the BNZ accelerates our brand credibility and trust. We put a lot of work into these partnerships and try to provide lots of value to them, which allows them to help out newer companies like ours.
The next step is educating customers as to why they should change. We do that by trying to drive people to our website. That’s a challenge all on its own but once there our approach is to have our customers tell their stories. We put our two new case studies today. Wellington Open Source hero’s SilverStripe and the New Zealand Drug Foundation, a charitable trust.
Once customers are in, then it’s all about customer care. We’ve invested a lot in a team and systems to track customer feedback and be able to pass questions around so that anyone in the team can answer a question and that feedback and learnings from the care team get into the product. Customer care is what creates evangelists in your user base.
We doubt that anyone changes accounting systems without checking it out with someone else first. Word of mouth is absolutely key. That’s why todays Xero moment was such a buzz. As I’ve often said – in the immortal words of business legend Rachel Hunter – “It won’t happen overnight but it will happen”