Today’s sellers and other sales channels are challenged by trying to sell to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) that are not aware of what tools they need to conduct business in today’s marketplace.

Today, according to LSA Insider (Local Search Association), various companies offer SMBs services that include: appointment booking, payments, loyalty, email automation, back office, and other tools that were previously enterprise-only. LSA Insider notes that, there was OpenTable initially, followed by DemandForce, which received broad attention with offerings of appointment reminders and other customer management services.

Other channels—Agendize, Camilyo, vCita, Shore, PingUp, Square, Swipely, Belly, Booker, GoDaddy, Facebook—have been either developing or introducing a variety of tools and services that “loosely” fall under customer relationship management (CRM). According to LSA Insider, this push of new services is part of a greater market movement from strictly promotional SMB services to “local commerce” or “service commerce.”

Based on a Yodle survey of 6,000 United States adults in 2015, two questions were asked regarding perceptions of what impacts a local business. It is clear that some key CRM services remain unknown and are not perceived as important.

How does the ability to book and/or request an appointment online influence your perception of a local business?

  • Sets business apart: 39 percent
  • Expected: 28 percent
  • Not important: 39 percent

How does the ability to pay online influence your perception of a local business?

  • Sets business apart: 28 percent
  • Expected: 34 percent
  • Not important: 38 percent

Online booking and ordering and mobile payments, messaging, and loyalty capabilities will begin differentiating businesses that offer these services from the companies that do not, leading to related benefits to those that do. LSA Insider notes what it describes as an “extreme” example of this—“Uber’s ongoing destruction of the taxi industry with its simplicity and in-app payments.”

The Yodle survey included more than 6,000 U.S. consumers, was published earlier in 2015, and included some fascinating information that validated the use of these services. Meanwhile, consumer demands and expectations are rapidly increasing and besting the responses from larger brands, retailers, and SMBs. Consumers seek digital booking and payments and look at businesses that use these as being set apart from those that do not. There is also a growing number of consumers who expect these capabilities and consumer market leaders are helping to influence and condition these consumer expectations, LSA Insider points out.

Respondents were asked “What communication do you currently receive from local businesses and what are you open to?” concerning the following:

Service/appointment reminders:

  • Open to receiving: 84 percent
  • Currently receive: 38 percent

Advice/helpful tips:

  • Open to receiving: 80 percent
  • Currently receive: 26 percent

Business/service updates:

  • Open to receiving: 76 percent
  • Currently receive: 19 percent

Survey requests for feedback:

  • Open to receiving: 67 percent
  • Currently receive: 13 percent

Personalized communication:

  • Open to receiving: 65 percent
  • Currently receive: 15 percent

Invitations to events:

  • Open to receiving: 63 percent
  • Currently receive: 12 percent


  • Open to receiving: 60 percent
  • Currently receive: 15 percent

This survey reveals that consumers are open to receiving more communications from SMBs than they are currently receiving, which reinforces the notion that there is both an opportunity and a need for “CRM and marketing automation tools to communicate with customers and prospects” not being used by business owners today,” according to LSA Insider.


Sterling, Greg. LSA Insider; CRM: Selling SMBs Something They Don’t Yet Know They Need; October 24, 2015.