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One of the great challenges in selling digital services to SMBs is that relatively few SMBs go shopping for these products. These products need to be sold by outbound sales channels. Making these channels more efficient is a big opportunity in the SMB space, and it will be a key theme underlying BIA/Kelsey’s upcoming SMB conference, Sept. 29-30 in Denver.

During a recent visit to Denver we chatted with entrepreneur and local search icon Perry Evans of Closely, and previously Local Matters and MapQuest. Perry is among those who are thinking hard about the issue of using data, social signals and better tools to empower sales channels to make the right sale at the right time.

“We have grown up, historically, with an advertising view of marketing,” Evans said. “What the business was doing was buying advertising to get leads. Now we are looking at a broad range of marketing services that go from getting found to looking good to cultivating customers to lead generation to digitizing business operations. This whole scope of services is way too broad” for a single rep to handle effectively.

This increasingly broad product set requires a re-invention of sales channels so that SMBs are matched with the right offerings at the right time to ensure a stickier sale.

Local sellers also need to find ways to reduce their cost of customer acquisition before local sales channels crumble under their own weight. The high cost of sales has meant little if any channel focus on the long tail of SMBs, a segment that is under-served because it has been so difficult to address cost effectively.

At least two sessions at SMB will apply some fresh thinking to all of these formidable challenges:

Is There a Play for the Long Tail SMB?

We’ve all heard it. The long tail is fool’s gold. It costs more to acquire a very small business than you can recover before they churn out. Everyone has abandoned smaller SMBs and is going after medium to large local businesses or national to local brands. But is that really the end of the story for VSBs? We’ll show you some new ideas on attacking the long tail that just might make you take a fresh look at the opportunity.

Inbound Sales – Bringing Customers to You

For sales leaders, attacking the SMB market can seem like boiling the ocean. Maybe there’s a better way. We will look at some companies that have had success using inbound lead generation as a sales “force multiplier.”

Check out the video below for an excerpt from our recent conversation with Perry. And we hope to see you at SMB, Sept. 29-30, in Denver.

Thanks to bieMedia for its assistance with shooting and editing this video.

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