Alignable recently surveyed thousands of local business owners for a study entitled "Is the Business Owner Here?" The focus of the study was to understand how local businesses are being sold to by vendors and Sales teams, and the effectiveness of current sales methods. In addition, the study analyzed the impact that the inundation of sales activity is having on local business talking to each other...which is where things really get interesting...The study (which was also featured on Fast Company) consisted of 5 questions, including:
- How many times a week, on average, are you solicited to buy products and services from others?
- How often do you respond to unsolicited outreach by a sales person?
- What's most likely to get you to engage with a sales person?
- If a fellow local business owner wants to meet you, how do you prefer they initiate a discussion?
- Does the amount of people soliciting you impact your willingness to reach out and meet other business owners?
About the data:
- We studied thousands of local businesses (Alignable users)
- Businesses included in the study are based in North America and employ under 50 people
- Businesses analyzed include both B2B and B2C, and include multiple industries
Now let's see the data and commentary!
Survey: Is the Business Owner Here?
Question #1 - How many times a week, on average, are you solicited to buy products and services from others?
Unsurprisingly, 86% of local business owners receive at least one sales call/email per week, that's life, right? What's alarming, however, is that roughly 40% of local business owners are getting bombarded six times or more every single week! Last time we checked, local business owners need to focus on running their business.
Question #2 - How often do you respond to unsolicited outreach by a sales person?
Wow. Cold calling and emailing really doesn't sit well with local business owners. Think about this, 89% of local business owners respond to unsolicited emails less than 10% of the time.
Question #3 - What's most likely to get you to engage with a sales person?
Some good news! Local business owners trust…other local business owners. Referrals and word-of-mouth marketing within the local community have always been the leading drivers of new customers, so it's understandable that the same principles would hold true for selling to local businesses.
Question #4 - If a fellow local business owner wants to meet you, how do you prefer they initiate a discussion?
Turns out that busting through the front door isn't always the best way to meet other local business owners, not even if you're the Kool-Aid Man. If you're looking to connect with other businesses in your area, consider first sending an email, making a quick phone call or being introduced by a mutual connection.
Question #5 - Does the amount of people soliciting you impact your willingness to reach out and meet other business owners?
This is the most surprising part of the study. 74% of local business owners feel conflicted about reaching out to other business owners because they don't want to be misconstrued as yet another person trying to sell something. Remember when we said that roughly 40% of business owners get contacted more than 6 times per week? Well, it's taking its toll on the community. The truth is, business owners want to meet other business owners, but they're waiting for the opportune moment...still waiting, and waiting.
Well, wait no mor.
For local business owners - If you feel hesitant about reaching out to other business owners, don't worry, you're not alone in feeling that way. The good news is that businesses do want to be connected to each other, work together and collaborate on unique projects - so don't let a toxic sales industry get in the way of producing real value, start by saying hi!
For Sales teams and managers - If you want to work with local businesses, you're going to need the support of other local businesses. Reaching out to businesses that you don't know and hoping for a sale is a recipe for failure. You're selling to an industry with an exceptionally high BS radar, perhaps the best in the business. You need trust, word-of-mouth Marketing and referrals to get in the door.