What do SMBs look for when buying SaaS technology?

What do SMBs look for when buying SaaS technology?

Selling software as a service (SaaS) technology to small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) requires much more agility than when providing services for the enterprise market. A successful offering should deliver immediate customer impact, present clear benefits, and include all costs in its simple model of pricing – but most importantly take into consideration repeatability and profitability.  

To successfully meet these requirements, vendors must focus on shortening their time-to-value through smaller feature sets with frequent releases compared to what is expected from large businesses that have room for multiyear projects.  

An interesting survey by Zomentum analyzed SMBs’ entire buying process and uncovered critical insights by examining information gathering steps; influencers involved; decision makers’ roles and partners’ role in this journey. 

What do SMBs consider when buying SaaS technology online? 

The online buying journey of SMBs has three stages: awareness, research and evaluation, and decision-making. 

The awareness stage 

In the awareness stage,  

  • For 40% of surveyed SMBs, business and news sites are the top online sources to learn about applications  
  • 39% follow Google and other search sites  
  • 36% rely on niche sites like industry trade groups, chambers of commerce, or professional sites by job role, like IT managers 

Among those using social media,  

  • 31% prefer YouTube to learn about new SaaS applications 
  • 29% turn to LinkedIn  
  • 27% rely on Facebook 

Email newsletters are the most popular content format amongst SMBs, with 41% choosing this option. Other well-received channels include one-off or promotional emails and articles, both garnering 35%. 

The research and analysis stage 

Social media is a helpful resource for businesses looking to research and evaluate new SaaS applications, with 50% of SMBs turning to YouTube, 43% using LinkedIn, and 36% leveraging Facebook

When it comes to content formats for evaluating these services, research reports (59%), articles (53%) and analyst reports (51%) remain at the top of their list

The decision-making stage  

When making their ultimate purchase decision, a significant amount of SMBs (36%) are turning to the product section of vendors’ websites. Additionally, ratings and review sites (26%) as well as resources such as blogs or guides (26%) provided by resellers prove attractive options. 

What factors influence the SaaS purchase decision of SMBs? 

Security, proven technology, and customization 

  • 70% of SMBs emphasized the importance of security when purchasing a SaaS product 
  • The second most important factor cited was proven technology (61%) 
  • This was followed by tailored to or designed for their industry at 49% 

Support and usability 

SMBs prefer SaaS products that are easy to understand, can be configured efficiently, implemented easily, and utilized without difficulty. 

  • Canadian and American SMBs recognize the need for convenience, with 52% indicating it is a necessary aspect of their operations.  
  • In contrast, only 39% of SMBs in Australia/New Zealand and the U.K. deem this criterion important. 

Clear benefits and pricing model 

SMBs cite the ability to clearly identify benefits as instrumental in their evaluation of SaaS applications.  

  • 54% indicated that they need to evaluate tangible benefits such as time or money savings before making their decision.  
  • Furthermore, of those surveyed, 47% highlighted the importance of only paying for what was used. 

Brand reputation and expertise 

Thought leadership materials, created and shared by vendors and partners, are a crucial part of the purchasing journey for small to medium businesses. The SaaS vendor’s brand matters too; 37% indicated they’d be more likely to buy from an established name. Additionally, 35% recognized third-party reviews provided by experts as key considerations during software evaluation processes.  

Other factors of mild importance like vendor case studies (34%), sector leadership status (31%), and market share volume (29%) all play an important role in the decision-making process

Role of partners in the SMB buying process 

According to the survey, SMBs are increasingly turning to partners for their information technology needs, as this arrangement enables them to receive the strategic guidance and expertise necessary for business success from the outset. 

  • Flexible, value-based offering: Partners can help SMBs decipher their pricing models by assessing the business holistically and emphasizing value-based offerings tailored to meet present needs while remaining flexible for future growth.
  • Technical expertise: SMBs trust consultants and partners to navigate their complex needs, as they have the specialized knowledge necessary for selecting products that will increase efficiency and productivity. Through thorough consultations, these experienced professionals can help identify which solutions fit best according to an organization’s specific requirements. 
  • Personalized, on-demand customer service: With a much wider client base, SaaS vendors often cannot provide the personalized customer service and attention smaller businesses require. However, partners offer round-the-clock access to their email and voice support services so SMBs can get prompt help whenever needed. 
  • Custom recommendations and solution advice: SMBs often turn to consultants to navigate the complex solutions on offer and ensure they’re equipped with applications that fit their requirements without exceeding budget. Consulting firms are skilled in curating optimum SaaS packages which alleviate SMB owners of deployment and management, so problems can be solved quickly while transferring responsibility away from them. 

SaaS technology vendors must evolve to meet the needs of SMBs. This calls for a shift in the way they source revenue, with partner relationships playing an increasingly critical role. By embracing creativity through innovative products and joining forces with channel partners, SaaS providers can tap into new opportunities that will secure their financial prospects while building lasting connections with SMBs. 


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