Sales Pitches for Small Business Owners: Insights from 18 interviews
January 25, 2024
Selling to local business owners can be a real challenge. Most of the time, they're super busy, tough to get a hold of, and often don't quite see how our service can change their lives.
But let's be real, a big part of this is on us, the sales folks.
I'll share some valuable insights I gained from my conversation with Zamanta, the founder of Za Yoga Life. We'll talk about the best and worst sales pitches she's ever received and how to grab the attention of small business owners.
For those who don't know me and my journey as a salesperson, I've sold over 6 million bucks worth of software, started 3 companies that pulled in 7 figures in sales, and I'm a YC founder.
- The Unique Challenges and Needs of Small Business Owners
- How to Pitch a Small Business Owner
- Creating Your Sales Pitch
- Frequently Asked Questions About How to Reach Small Business Owners
- Conclusion: Ask a Small Business Owner
The Unique Challenges and Needs of Small Business Owners
Small business owners have their own set of quirks and needs, depending on what kind of business they're running. A coffee shop owner's hustle happens in the morning, like 7 to 9 am, while a pizza restaurant probably heats up when the sun goes down.
But here's the deal, there's a ton they have in common. In my chat with Zamanta Archibold, we dug deep into what makes them tick and how to catch their attention in a way that actually matters - for them and you.
Challenge number one: they're often one-person companies.
If they do have a team, it's not a big one, and they're not exactly partners or managers. So these small biz champs have to juggle everything from keeping the lights on to diving into the world of bureaucracy and finances.
Challenge number two: they're constantly bombarded by salesfolks and customers. There's always some customer issue that needs fixing or a tricky one to handle – anyone who's been in customer service knows the drill.
These folks are drowning in calls and emails, easily racking up more than 20 calls and 30 emails a day.
How in the world are you going to stand out in that sea of noise?
Then there's challenge number three: they're swamped with generic messages and services that often don't make a lick of sense. Or at least, that's how it seems.
To overcome these challenges and understand the needs of small biz owners, you've got to ask yourself if your product or service is actually going to make their job easier.
Check out what Zamanta has to say about a company that got it right with a product that made sense to her:
“I immediately was attached to the company because they made sense, they had a good product, they were passionate about it, and they made my job easier.”
“I'm a small business, I don't want to go do the work. I try to run my little business, I don't have a huge staff. So if you're going to come to me, come to me with a product that's going to help me.”
After guaranteeing that you did your homework and are selling with passion, be careful with the generic pitch.
“When someone has a product and they want to sell it, what sells anything is your passion. If you're selling it to me where you're just generic, you're sending me an email that I know automatically that you never went to my website, I'm not going to reach out.”
In the upcoming topic, I'll share my approach to ensuring that my pitch captures attention effectively.
How to Pitch a Small Business Owner
The worst and best sales pitches Zamanta received
Instead of me just guessing what small business owners like, it's way better to hear it straight from them. That's why I've done interviews with 18 of them on our podcast, digging deep to figure out what really clicks.
Let me share Zamanta's story with you:
“I get so many emails from people who want to create my web design, and the only ones that I tend to reach out to are the ones who've done their homework.
If you reach out to me with this generic, I got one, just yesterday, it says:
Hi, happy 2024. Curious to know how you currently get reviews for your studio. Asking this because we're building a tool that lets you automatically connect to 12 times more revenue.
I'm a small business. Of course, I want to grow, right? But I can only grow so much. I'm a one-person business here. Did you do the research?
Ask me the question, hey, what is it that you want to do?
We are a company that helps people generate reviews. I would love to sit down and talk to you and see where you want to go.
Instead of telling me “I saw your website and I think you can grow bigger”. Oh, really? How do you know that I'm not just happy where I'm at? You're telling me automatically that you think that I need to be bigger.
You looked and found me on my website. I didn't reach out to you, you reached out to me, but you're reaching out to me to tell me that I need to be seen more. So I was like, yeah, I don't need to deal with you.
But if you come with a different approach, like, hey, this is what I do, and I'm good at it. And I would like to help you, you know, tell me if you're interested.
I'm always happy when someone gives me the option. If you do your homework and ask if I’m interested, I will give you my time. I will respond to you. You actually put a little bit of soul in there.
Now don’t come to me and tell me how you can make me better. That's my job.”
Long story short: small business owners (and maybe everyone else too) aren't fans of hearing generic pitches that promise growth and improvement. It's kind of obvious they can grow, and maybe they don't even want to grow bigger.
Or if they do, they don't want to do it with someone who didn't bother to ask about their needs before making a sales pitch.
It's a bit like being a creeper instead of George Clooney – you don't ask someone out on a date in the first meeting, you first check if they're even single and interested.
Creating Your Sales Pitch
1. Start with the qualification question
You already know it's crucial to have your target audience in mind, but sometimes we forget to consider what characteristics might not make them the best fit for our service.
Take Resquared, for example. We're all about helping people sell to local businesses. Our customers include brokers, marketing agencies, and more. But if a marketing agency doesn't work with local business owners, they're just not the right match.
So, here's the key qualification question: Do you need to prospect small business owners?
If the answer is no, it's not just about saving their time, but mine too. Instead of hitting them with a generic pitch like:
Resquared is the perfect platform for selling to local businesses, and I think it could be a good fit for you. How about a demo next week when it works for you?
Our customers see a significant boost with 2x more open rates and 10x increase in conversion rates.
Looking forward to your response!"
It's better to go like this:
I'm currently on the lookout for marketing agencies in Tampa that want to connect with local business owners. After checking out your company, it seems like there might be some synergy.
Are you actively seeking new ways to reach local business owners? Let me know, and I can provide more information.
Remember, as we learned from Zamanta's story, it's all about asking them what they want rather than assuming what they need to do. This way, they're more likely to at least respond.
2. Ask more questions rather than bragging about your product or service
We often focus on flashy stuff like big numbers, testimonials, and social proof, but sometimes we forget what truly matters to our customers. Don't get me wrong, these things are important, but we need to start with discovery.
Imagine you're selling to a business owner who isn't particularly interested in increasing organic traffic but really wants to up their click rates on their website.
In that case, bragging about how your agency boosted a customer's organic traffic by 100x won't be as exciting as you might think.
But here's the game-changer: ask questions. You could start with: What's one of your main website goals for 2024?
If they respond with, "Well, we really need to amp up the click rates because our organic traffic is solid, but we're not converting visitors," then you'd know which testimonial to serve up.
Even better, keep asking questions. Find out what they're currently doing to reach their goal. This way, you can tailor your service to precisely what they need.
Remember: don't make assumptions, just ask.
3. End with “yes or no” CTA
When you're sending a cold message, whether it's an email or a call, it's a good idea to keep your CTAs simple. Many of us often want to ask what's the best time to schedule a meeting or when to call for a follow-up. However, this approach puts the onus on them.
Avoid asking: What is the best time to call you next week after you talk to your partner?
Instead, go with something like: I'll give you a call next week on Wednesday morning to follow up.
If they don't have that time available, they'll let you know.
The key here is to always try to get a clear yes or no by the end of the call or message. If it's not a yes, you might not get the response you're hoping for – speaking from personal experience here!
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Reach Small Business Owners
What is a sales pitch?
In traditional terms, a sales pitch is a concise sales presentation where you discuss your product or service, ideally in under one or two minutes.
These are commonly referred to as elevator pitches due to their brevity, typically taking no longer than a single elevator ride.
How to get referrals?
Now, let's talk about how to score those referrals – I like to call it asking for a referral in the Y Combinator Way (American technology startup accelerator).
It's pretty much the same principle as the "yes or no" CTA – you want to make it easy for your customers to respond without making them do all the heavy lifting.
Instead of hitting them with a plain, "Hey, do you have any referrals?" and crossing your fingers for a list of contacts (which might just lead to crickets), keep it simple and specific.
Try something like, "Hey, do you know anyone in [business type or name] who needs [the problem your product solves]?"
Or maybe, "Hey, do you know anyone in [business type or name] who could benefit from my service too?"
This way, they'll have a name or two in mind right away, if they know anyone. Plus, the referrals are more likely to be relevant and high-quality, rather than just a random list of old networking contacts.
How to do a short sales pitch?
Let's dive into how to nail those short sales pitches. Keep it simple – your message should be a quick read without any scrolling involved.
We're talking a maximum of 2 paragraphs here, just like in these examples:
Subject: I helped Y to achieve Z: are you looking for the same result?
Hey there! I'm on the lookout for businesses in the [name] industry that could use a boost in organic traffic and leads. I've already worked with [business name] in your area. Are you interested in increasing these goals in 2024? Let me know and I can shoot over more details.
Subject: Space Available for Coffee Shops in Santa Clarita
Hi! I’m working with a Santa Clarita shopping center right next to the Metrolink and have a space available for a coffee shop. After reading about [business_name], I think you might be a great fit! Do you have any plans to relocate or expand? Let me know and I can send you a flyer or set up a tour.
Now, if you're making a call, make sure it's crystal clear and focuses on asking before you unleash all the great things your product or service does. Take this example:
Secretary: This is X, how can I help you?
You: Hi, [name] please. It's Tyler.
Chances are, the secretary will pass you right through because you sound confident. Let's fast-forward to the chat with the lead.
Phone Call with Lead:
Local business owner: Hello?
You: Hey [name], I'm currently on the lookout for businesses in the [industry or area] that are dealing with [specific problem or goal]. Can I send you more details via email?
If they're interested, let them know you're sending that info pronto and ask those questions we chatted about earlier: What are they doing today? What's their big goal?
After discovering what they're up to, you'll know how you can help. Wrap up by suggesting a follow-up call in the next few days (be sure to specify a date and time). This way, you're more likely to get a yes instead of getting ghosted.
Conclusion: Ask a Small Business Owner
In a nutshell, the best way to up your sales pitch game is by chatting with small business owners. Just like I did, you can have a little research session with your clients and ask them about the best and worst sales pitches they've ever encountered.
Trust me, you'll stumble upon some amusing stories along the way.
I hope Zamanta's story and my pitch tips have been a helpful read for you. If you enjoyed this content, why not join our newsletter? We'll slide exclusive content into your inbox every week, and you can bail out at any time – no hard feelings.