Jenn Allen believes most tech companies are getting it wrong when selling to “cloud native” small businesses. And getting it right is important, given we’re looking at a pretty rapid transition from older to younger business owners in the coming years as Baby Boomers set to hit retirement age at a 10,000 per day clip (give or take).

Allen is the latest guest on the Local Search Association’s On Target podcast. On the podcast Allen, whose title is go-to-market Lead for Cisco’s SMB segment, and I talked about “cloud natives” (largely millennial SMBs that start their businesses using cloud tools), product bundling and the prospect for the holy grail of sales — a self-service, guided selling platform.

“Cloud natives grew up living on apps that live in the cloud,” Allen said. “These millennials have huge aspirations. I read that 75% say they want to own their own businesses. They are very different from the boomers and my generation. They don’t want to go to work for large corporations.”

If Allen’s right, and we think she is, we’re looking at a radically changing small business landscape, where older business owners using desktop software, or perhaps no software, being supplanted by cloud natives who will essentially run their businesses via their smartphones. This has profound ripple effects that we talk about extensively at the Tech Adoption Index, including a new ecosystem of companies commanding the loyalty of cloud natives and selling them additional services.

Allen and I also talked about how younger business owners buy technology. it’s a far different process.

“When you talk about how they buy, you have to think about how they were raised,” Allen said. “it is all about on demand. Fast. Rapid. If you cannot deliver the product or service quickly, they are not interested.”

Allen said companies marketing and selling to younger SMBs should find them in right place and in the right manner. For example, peer-influence is key to decision making.

“Whether they have people on staff or not, they are going to make decisions in a crowd like setting,” Allen said.

And podcasts are key to reaching SMBs, particularly younger ones, Allen said. This was a somewhat surprising finding from research Cisco conducted last year about how small businesses engage with technology.

The interview covers a lot more ground, you can listen to the full podcast here:

Jenn Allen was also a featured speaker at last year’s Tech Adoption Summit. The Summit is returning to San Francisco’s The Laundry on November 7 this year. Speaker applications are now being accepted for the event. Sponsorship opportunities are also available. 

Thanks to Tech Adoption Index Premium sponsors DexYP and Google and Silver sponsor Boostability for supporting this episode of the On Target podcast. 

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