A few weeks ago I tried to articulate how we were crafting the agenda of the inaugural B2SMB Summit. I wrote:

So the idea of a forum to share best B2SMB sales & marketing practices, to review fresh SMB research & insights, to meet fellow B2SMB pros and even to find new, relevant partnerships (all of which we find ourselves at bizHive enabling every day) seemed like a no-brainer.

As 250+ B2SMB Pros assembled last week in Chicago, it was clear that the “no-brainer” was made far more thoughtful by the attendees assembled.  Like any good party, the hosts were quickly outshined by the party-goers – so were all of us who had the privilege of preparing a great space for all those assembled, a safe haven to collectively create what we only hoped would be of “transformative” value.

With a week of space to reflect, I have a hundred takeaways, but five stand out:

1 – Our B2SMB Peer community is larger than even I thought possible.  For our inaugural event, we hoped to attract 200+ B2SMB pros to Chicago.  Not only did we attract a lot more than expected, we found a population that was broader (more categories, more verticals) AND deeper (from front-line AEs to C-Suite Execs) than anticipated.  It’s always fun to be a “trend-spotter,” but I think our attendees can count themselves as “trend-makers” as we continue to share the event, the content, and the network we’ve all built with more and more B2SMB peers.

 

2 – Our B2SMB Peer community has more in common than I thought probable.  The pain of reaching, engaging, winning and keeping SMB customers is acute and seemed to cross EVERY enterprise that depends on SMB sales for success .  It became obvious that rising costs-per-acquisition and lowered retention rates were just two of the shared pains.  We saw and heard of challenges that reach into product development, delivery, and even internal communications and support.  Best news of all?  We now have support from a LOT of smart people facing the same challenges who are consistently ready, willing and able to share what works and what doesn’t.  Which leads to…

 

3 – Our B2SMB Peer community is willing to share a lot to get better at the jobs we do.  I was pleasantly surprised to see the depth to which most of our Speakers went in fully detailing the “what” and the “how” of winning & keeping their SMB customers.  I think this level of sharing kept people in the Main Halls listening, taking notes, learning.  Erik Day gave insights into Dell’s SMB playbook that were both generous and riveting; Carrie Jacobson detailed a roadmap that didn’t just highlight Office Depot’s new destination, but the routes she and her team were going to take to get there; and Lem Lloyd took BuzzBoard’s research (historically directed at local media orgs) and re-fit it to an audience that were likely unfamiliar with the insights and the company providing them.  The list of open-book Presenters was 30+ deep, and I for one feel significantly more confident hearing and seeing what was shared.  The confidence-building content beget another insight…

 

4 – Our B2SMB Community is wide open to new and innovative Partnerships.  Sure, we’re all fighting the good fight under the flag of our own brand.  But more Summit attendees recognized that going it alone was indeed a lonely business.  Synergies exist not just in service of co-marketing and co-promotion but in co-development and even co-delivery.  These plays don’t just enhance efficiency and effectiveness, they even make more holistic sense to the SMB, who doesn’t want to address Cyber-security across 5 distinct vendors.  I for one think we are witnessing an emerging age of creative, relevant and valuable B2SMB brand cooperation, and our growing B2SMB community will forge an ever-growing sample-set of Partnerships that work extraordinarily well.  That’s the central theme of our B2SMB Executive Retreat, by the way, which leads to…

 

5 – Our B2SMB Summit attendees are not done.  It’s a privilege to be in the middle of all of this because I get to hear the dozens of Attendees draw precisely the same conclusion from the Summit: we want more.  Not just a 2nd Annual Summit, but more meet-ups, live and virtual; more insights and more research and more validation; more networking and connectivity; and more of that magic captured within the Summit.  We agree.  Over the coming weeks, we’ll take some of the ideas we already had and make them even better with your help.  And we’re blessed to have ideas from you that we never even thought of!  Keep it coming!

 

Be well, stay in touch and above all #sellmoresmall!