Sales Result | Sales Blog

    By Liz Stone October 17, 2016

    Key Differences Between SMB and Enterprise Sales Reps

    Updated Version Available


    Enterprises and SMBs are very different beasts and in order to sell to them effectively, your sales reps need to have certain skills. While there are key characteristics that all top-performing reps have in common, there are specific qualities that a sales rep selling to Enterprise versus a Small or Medium-Sized Business must possess in order to be successful with repeatable results.

    This blog explores characteristics needed for Enterprise and SMB reps, as well as some main differentiators between these two types of businesses.

    Before getting started, we need to define these different types of businesses:

    • SMB: Small and Medium-Sized Businesses. SMBs are defined as having less than 100 employees and between $5-$10 million in annual revenue.
    • SME: Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Also known as “mid-market”. SME’s are defined as having between 101-500 employees and between $10 million and $1 billion in annual revenue.  
    • Large Enterprise: Are defined as having over 1000 employees and over $1 billion in annual revenue.  

    For the purpose of this blog, “Enterprise” refers to Small, Medium (SME) and Large Enterprises.

    Presentation Style & Preparedness:

    Enterprise reps need to focus on the long game while their SMB counterparts must be able to act quickly. For example, getting to a presentation or demo will take multiple calls and scheduling in an Enterprise sale, while on the SMB side, a demo often will occur simultaneously with the first call to a prospect due to limited time and resources on their behalf.

    Key Takeaway: A more polished presentation is expected from an Enterprise buyer than an SMB buyer, but SMB sales reps need to be prepared before every call to give a customized presentation if requested.

    Navigating the Sale: 

    Enterprise reps have to navigate complex organizations to identify and understand an established, longer buying process, with key decision makers from multiple departments within the company involved. These sales have more moving parts and require high involvement from both buyer and seller. In an SMB scenario, the buying process is usually shorter and less complicated with fewer decision makers involved, often just one or two. SMB sales tend to be more impulsive than Enterprise sales as there is less protocol involved. 

    Key Takeaway: Enterprise reps need do a lot of planning and working with others in the prospect organization and with their colleagues. A sale becomes like a project with the Enterprise rep as its manager. SMB reps are generally engaging with prospects who have looser sales processes and faster timelines.  

    Using Content: 

    Enterprises tend to care more about references than SMBs. Content, such as case studies similar to them in size and industry, carry a lot of weight while SMB buyers are more concerned with recommendations and trust, which they often gather through their own research. Once this trust is established, SMBs are more likely to take a risk on a new product or solution than Enterprises.

    Key Takeaway: Enterprise reps need to be able to use strong references in their presentations, stories, and content. SMB sales reps need be able to prove why they are worth the risk by providing recommendations and proving value to an often self-educated buyer.

    Hunting vs. Farming Capabilities:

    Enterprise accounts often provide upsell opportunities, and Enterprise reps need to be able to nurture such accounts through maintaining relationships and always keeping an eye out for opportunities, while also seeking out new business. SMB accounts are less likely to have upsell opportunities due to their smaller sizes and budgetary restraints, so SMB reps need to be more aggressive in always hunting down new business.

    Key Takeaway: Enterprise reps need to be equally skilled at hunting and farming sales, while SMB reps must be aggressive hunters with less focus on farming.

    Understanding the Buyer: 

    Enterprises and SMBs have very different sets of pain points and interests which sales reps must be able to identify and address. Enterprises have a more established buying processes and likely are considering more competition than SMBs, or they may already have a solution in place that your reps will be competing with, and their concerns lie with increased revenue and reduced buget.

    SMBs on the other hand can have a variety of different pain points, depending on how developed they are. Young SMBs are concerned about handling growth and acheiving profitability while mature SMBs are focused on long-term stability and structure. SMB sales reps need to be able to identify the stage in which their buyer is, and tailor their solution to their pain. 

    Key Takeaway: Enterprise reps need to have a deep understanding of their competition, pre-existing in the account and outside competitors for the same business. While there may be less tough competition for SMB, these reps need to be able to identify the stage of their prospect and speak specifically to it in order to stand out. 


    In order to reach maximum selling potential, you first need to understand your prospect and their buying process: do they fall into the SMB, SME or Enterprise categories? If they fall under more than one, have different internal sales processes been developed for each (the same process won't work with these different buyers)? Lastly, do your sales reps have the skills to follow the appropriate sales process with approach strategies that adhere to their prospect's respective expectations, buying processes, and pains?

    Whether you need help identifying your prospect and their buying process, developing a winning sales process, or coaching for your sales reps, Sales Result can help; contact us for a complimentary consultation.

    Topics: Sales Management, Sales Process, Sales Playbook / Training, Sales Strategy, Sales Operations / Enablement

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