Please educate the small-medium business market

In recent engagements with prospective customers, I have come to the conclusion that many decision makers in small and medium businesses (SMB) have very little idea about the issues, questions and implications of ERP and CRM applications. Most of the bloggers in the ERP/CRM arena seem to have a focus on larger organisations which have more knowledgeable resources; Jyoti Banerjee’s KiteBlue is an exception.

The problem is that SMB people are focused on the operational issues of their business, and as far as IT is concerned it is mainly around Internet, security and the accounting package. So when they start to look at ERP or CRM solutions, they have very little idea what to look for and what to ask. Which means they either make a decision based purely on price, or they take ages to make a decision because the learning process takes time.

I therefore I am beginning to feel quite critical about the vendor community (SAP, Microsoft etc) who claim the SMB sector is an important market for ERP and CRM, but whose marketing is all about positioning and messaging, and are not trying to educate the SMB market.

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One thought on “Please educate the small-medium business market

  1. I admire Jyoti’s involvement in the SMB space and agree that most vendors claim to support it but rarely does any vendor provide more than lip-service to this space. In fact, most VARs and vendors are competent and comfortable with either very big businesses or very small, simple companies. Mid-market buyers of technology and services are in a veritable no-man’s land. They get woefully inadequate service and results from vendors who serve the small firms and they get the ‘B’ teams and poor service from those who market to big firms.

    As to educating these buyers, you are correct, vendors do a poor job here, too. They incorrectly assume these firms have either very simple problems or they fail to understand the (quite different) buyer values, demographics and psychographics of their prospects.

    I’ll send data and other documents to Jyoti as he builds out his M-Institute knowledge center and I hope more of your readers do too.

    Brian Sommer
    TechVentive, Inc.
    http://www.servicessafari.blogs.com
    http://www.softwaresafari.typepad.com

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