Small business IT providers often waste a ton of time and resources chasing after the wrong leads. Because an on-site sales appointment, even for a local small business lead, can easily cost your company $250 to $500+ (or your local currency equivalent), ensure you're spending your firm's marketing time and budget in the right places.

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To help make sure that you're only going after promising decision-makers, consider the following 5 small business IT lead qualification tips:
  1. Is the lead geographically desirable? Because most non-technical small business owners and managers are paying a premium for face-time and hand-holding, you'd better make sure that it will be cost-effective for you and your staff, if applicable, to deliver face-time and hand-holding. Most computer consulting firms, VARs, network integrators, IT solution providers, and computer repair businesses target small businesses that are within a 30- to 60-minute drive.
  2. What's the industry or niche? The best potential clients for you are those that are similar to your existing clients. Why? You don't have to invest many non-billable hours getting up to speed on the idiosyncrasies of their line-of-business apps. And on the flip side, these leads know that you won't be using them as guinea pigs or learning while the meter's running. How do they know that? Because your industry-focused marketing campaigns tell them.
  3. Is there a platform match? If your expertise is primarily in the Microsoft Windows world, but a potential client is 95% standardized on the Mac OS, you should refer the lead to a trusted partner who's better qualified.
  4. What's the size? Size matters a heck of a lot. If the small business IT lead is too small, such as just a handful of workstations, it's generally not going to be a profitable account for you. If the lead is too large, such as 100+ workstations, there will almost always be in-house IT staff. And accordingly, the in-house IT staff will be pressured only to outsource selectively rather than in a soup-to-nuts outsourcing arrangement. So think about a Goldilocks-style happy-medium: not too big, not too small, at 10-50 workstations... or what we call Sweet Spot Clients TM
  5. Who supports this company today? If a tiny small business is used to "paying" for IT support from the owner's brother-in-law through the "currency" of pizza and beer, that's awfully tough to compete with. If, on the other hand, the small business used to work with a professional network integrator that recently had some staff turnover, that's a good sign that the lead is used to paying for professional services.

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It can take a significant amount of time and marketing budget to acquire new small business clients... especially those clients that need to see you on a regular basis.

Be sure to focus your resources on the opportunities that are at least in the ballpark. In this short post, we looked at 5 small business IT lead qualification tips that you can use to make sure you're nurturing the right prospective clients.
Please let us know in the Comments section below:
  • how you've been doing with qualifying your small business IT leads, and
  • if there should be a Tip #6 based on your experience in the field

And to follow through on the sales tips introduced in this article, especially if you also work with small business SaaS and IaaS, enroll now in our free 7-day eCourse: Go-to-Market Strategy 101 for B2B SaaS Startups and Scaleups.

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