COVID-19 causing medium- and small-scale businesses to ramp up their technology investments

Salesforce Research recently released its Small and Medium Business Trend Report, where the responses given by over 2300 small & medium business owners from all over the world were analyzed to find out the degree to which COVID-19 had affected their businesses, how the current digital transformation was helping sustain their businesses, and the strategies owners had in mind for growth and recovery once the pandemic goes away.

SMBs were arguably the biggest losers in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic virtually put an end to all their operating activities. Here are the key takeaways found in the Salesforce 2020 Business Trend Report for technology investments:

  1. SMB owners are prioritizing customer safety practices above all else, with sanitation and safety policies and compliance with public health regulations being their biggest concern.
  • Personalized offerings, innovation, and supply chain issues are major challenges for SMBs. Delivering products and services that hold up to their clients’ expectations is a huge problem for SMBs who are currently under budget and time constraints. 66% of clients were expecting companies to offer products tailored to their unique requirements and expectations. 77% of them stated that businesses should use this crisis as an opportunity for investing in innovation and improvement.
  • Customer relationships are more important now than ever. Small and medium businesses are now prioritizing relationship building, offering more flexibility, providing more ways for their clients to reach out to them, and improving their customer service experience.
  • The acquisition of new clients is proving to be a challenging affair. While it has always been difficult, the pandemic has only served to raise the stakes. Retaining existing clients, acquiring new ones, and coming up with long-term plans were cited as the top 3 challenges faced by SMBs.
  • SMBs were also extremely affected by a troubling lack of access to adequate capital. Deploying the right tech, making the right hiring decisions, and fulfilling customer expectations were among the biggest challenges SMBs were facing right now, the study found.
  • Revenues have fallen to all-time lows. Additionally, 60% of SMB owners also said that local health regulations, which required them to limit or shut down operations were also threatening their businesses. They also cited compliance with public health regulations to be a huge burden for them.
  • SMB owners are increasing their technology investments based on their potential to deliver more value at faster speeds. Over 70% of SMB owners cited price, vendor trustworthiness, and vendor service quality as crucial considerations that factored into their usage of new technology.
  • SMB owners are increasing their CRM investments at a rapid scale. Over 50% of SMB owners stated that their company was now using an efficient CRM system for their needs, which is a jump of 24% from last year’s figures. SMB owners in industries like manufacturing (64%), technology (68%), and consumer products and services (68%) are adopting CRM systems at a rapid pace.
  • Growing SMBs were adopting newer technologies faster compared to their declining/stagnant industry counterparts. Apart from CRM, SMB owners were also making investments in e-commerce tools, task or project collaboration tools, customer service tools, and email marketing tools.

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