As a business owner, you might have experienced being contacted by other firms trying to sell their products and services to you. In my case, I get a lot of emails and phone calls from other businesses offering anywhere from their phone systems to computers to accounting services.
One thing that strikes me though is that many of these companies, particularly the big vendors, do not seem to know how to sell to the SOHO market. They think of me as a business, so they treat it as a business-to-business deal where I am treated like a corporate buyer.
The SOHO entrepreneur, especially the one-person business, is not something that can easily be classified as a business-to-business transaction nor as a business-to-consumer transaction. Small office/Home Office entrepreneurs are more of a hybrid, exhibiting characteristics of both types.
Take for example a vendor of a high-end computer system who contacted me. The sales person just rattled off the features of the product and emailed the specs.
If I am a corporate buyer of a Fortune 500 company, I may treat the process of buying the computer as just one of the to-dos for the day to be crossed off my list. The emotional investment to the process extends only as to whether the purchase will be good enough for the users of the machine and hopefully cement my value to the company as someone who knows how to choose products well.
But I am not a corporate buyer and I do not treat buying expensive machines as simply a task to be crossed of my to-do list. Unlike the corporate buyer who simply needs to write off a purchase order to send to Accounting, I will pay for this machine from my OWN pocket. I will be spending my own money to buy it. That in itself makes a huge difference for a corporate buyer and a SOHO buyer.
There is also a deeper emotional investment attached to the decision. This computer may be something I’ve always wanted, but could never afford when I was just starting. Now that the business is doing well, I can now afford to buy it. So this computer for me will be an affirmation that the business is a success that I can now afford to buy this expensive machine.
If you are selling to the SOHO market, think of us as a hybrid with both B2B and B2C characteristics. We’re a business, but have the minds (and emotions) of consumers.