dataPlor: The Importance of Personal Relationships and Other Key Findings from Emerging Market Small Business Survey

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At dataPlor, we know that the best way to gather data and insights on emerging market small businesses is in person. We sent our general manager in Guadalajara out on a mission to understand how hyperlocal businesses communicate with customers and potential business partners and suppliers.

He spent a week speaking first-hand to small business owners about their customer outreach strategies and how they chose potential business partners. Here’s what we found.

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Preferences for Engaging with Business Partners and Suppliers

How do you prefer to be contacted by potential business partners and salespeople?

Remote sales has become popular for many companies in the US. This model will not work in emerging markets where trust comes first in most business partnerships. The small business owners we spoke to agree meeting someone in person is an important step toward building trust and establishing a lasting business partnership.

How do you find new suppliers or vendors?

In the US, companies are used to solicitations from vendors and often welcome value when communicated via email or advertisement. This kind of cold outreach is notoriously unwelcome in the Latin American business market, where personal connections remain the most important aspect of many business-client relationships.

How do you prefer to work with business software? Via website, application, or both?

Small business owners are hands-on. Many are on their feet during the day, servicing customers. Most of those surveyed preferred the flexibility of managing tools on the web and on an application.

Marketing and Customer Engagement Strategies

How do you think you could make your business more competitive?

The desire to attract new customers is the strongest commonality among businesses owners in our survey.

                                   How do you attract new customers?

Free social profiles such as Facebook are popular among small businesses. However, investment in digital marketing is not a priority. Forty-nine percent of participating businesses rely on non-digital channels such as newspapers or flyers in order to stay top-of-mind with potential customers.

How do you stay in touch with your customers on an on-going basis?

While many businesses do not keep in touch with their customers, those who do rely mainly on social media and WhatsApp. Many owners agree that this is an area where they can improve via training or automation, reporting that employee training could make their businesses more competitive.

Key Takeaways  

  • Small businesses are interested in attracting new customers but are hesitant to invest in new technologies. Vendors should focus on providing education and leveraging social media as a robust tool for digital marketing opportunities.
  • In-person, trust-based relationships are key when developing a go-to-market plan for emerging-market small businesses. An on-site visit from potential vendors or suppliers during the sales process will increase trust and closing rates.

If you’d like to learn more about these findings or find out how dataPlor can provide you with rich information on SMBs in Latin America, please get in touch by clicking here.

Geoffrey Michener is a serial entrepreneur and founder & CEO of dataPlor. He writes Street Fight’s Movers and Shakers column.