Any small business owner has, at one time or another, dealt with a prospect who was concerned that they wouldn’t be able to fulfill a need because they were a “small company.” A related concern is your visibility. “I’ve never heard of you before,” says the prospect. What he is really wondering if you will be in business long enough to provide the product/service he wants.
This is a tough challenge. We all have larger and better know competitors in the local market as well as on line. How can a small or new enterprise compete? Here are three ways to react to the typical prospect’s unspoken concerns:
Concern: “You don’t have enough experience.” There is an automatic assumption on the part of customers that if you’re new in business you don’t have experience. The reality is that very few of us would go into a business that we didn’t have a solid base of knowledge and experience. Yes, this particular enterprise might be new, but you are not. To counteract this perception you must emphasize in your marketing the industry knowledge and skills that you and your staff have developed over time.
Concern: “You’re too small.” There is a natural tendency to subtly imply that you are larger than you really are…perhaps not outright lie, but let someone believe you have a bigger operation than is factual. A better strategy is to turn this to your advantage by emphasizing the personal attention you can devote to the customer and her project. You are local and can react quickly to any issue that might come up.
Think of this as a mini-version of the old Avis campaign: “we’re #2 and we try harder.”
Concern: “You don’t have the resources to meet my needs.” This is a difficult assumption to battle. If you are used to handling an order size of 50, what do you do when an order for 500 is needed? Here you have to clearly demonstrate that you have unused capacity in house, and the ability to bring in additional staff, run an extra shift, or whatever is necessary to fill the orders.
How can you avoid these issues all together? By addressing them right up front in your marketing. Play offense, not defense. Use a page on your website to describe how you handle larger orders or emergencies for your clients. Describe the experience of your staff and the diversity of their resumes. Be proactive and alleviate your prospects concerns early in the conversation.