Valuable New Survey Data on Selling To Small Businesses

Recently we conducted an online survey about selling to the small business market. The results of that survey are now available.

The survey established that a whopping 83% of vendors attract small business customers through referrals — more than twice the number that report getting customers through cold calling, direct mail and other traditional techniques. Here is a chart from the report comparing various customer acquisition techniques (not including online):

How Vendors Find Small Business Customers Offline
how vendors find small business customers offline

When it comes to attracting customers online, organic search results are a primary way. A full 73% of vendors attract small business customers through search engine results. This chart compares various online ways of attracting small businesses as customers:

Main Ways Vendors Find Small Business Customers Online
Main Ways Vendors Find Small Business Customers Online

The report is based on data collected from an online survey between October 29 and November 13, 2005. There were 481 respondents. The report consists of 14 pages and 11 charts.

Ron McDaniel, CEO of, a word of mouth marketing agency, was provided with an advance review copy of the report. Here is what Ron had to say, “I think this report is essential for businesses that market to small businesses to read because it really illustrates the opportunities and barriers to getting better results. I can imagine a lot of opportunities for follow up to this…. Just the tip of the iceberg as far as stuff I would love to know. ”

This is intended to be the first of many surveys. Our thanks to all those who participated.

Download our exclusive 14-page report, “Reaching Small Businesses” (PDF).

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

24 Reactions
  1. Anita,

    This is a great survey. It confirms all my beliefs, but now they are no longer just beliefs, I have the data to back them up:-)

    The stat’s on how sellers and customers find each other off- and online are great … but clearly those are two separate groups, and I wonder if you had any numbers on the ratio between off- and online?

    Thanks a lot,

  2. Hi Zoli, You raise a very good question. We will be covering the question you ask in future surveys.


  3. this is very interesting… all the online stores had better learn how to beef up their meta tags, then!

    would sure appreciate more info on doing that in the future 🙂

  4. Wow. The referral number is staggering, and the online search for attracting customers is less of a surprise. Great info.

  5. Where is the link to the store to buy this survey?


  6. [] The research Online survey courtesy of Anita Cambell from Small Business Trends [] very good

  7. Great info! Bravo! But is there an updated version?? Please say yes. Love your columns/content BTW.