Salesforce, a global leader in CRM, presented the main findings of the fourth edition of its SME Trends Report, which reflects the vision of SMEs in the current situation and how they face the main challenges that lie ahead, in particular those related to digital transformation. The study, in which more than 2,300 heads of small businesses from 16 countries in total (including Spain) participated, was carried out in two parts: one during the month of March and another in August that it took. It was possible to analyze the effects of the pandemic and the challenges it poses.
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses in all sectors, sizes and regions, and SMEs, which typically face crisis situations with fewer resources, have been particularly affected. In this way, 70% of Spanish SMEs say they plan to change their business model – 59% anticipate slight changes following the pandemic, and 11% say they will have to operate with a completely new structure. On the other hand, 18% think that it will be able to continue functioning normally, while 1% foresee a forced shutdown. 12% do not know how their business will develop.
Among the main factors that will hamper future growth in the post-COVID era, Spanish SME leaders cite, in that order, lower customer demand (59%), lower profit level (48%) and the requirements of health authorities (38%). Due to the crisis, future considerations for SMEs are to take the necessary measures to mitigate its effects and focus on applying for financial assistance (40%), downsizing (33%) and shutting down of the business for a short period (22%).
Technology, key to the future of SMEs after the pandemic
The use and implementation of new technologies is proving to be a fundamental element for the future of SMEs in our country, and almost half of them (46%) say they already have a CRM system – 18 % have integrated it in the last year With regard to considerations for evaluating the acquisition of new technologies, Spanish SMEs cite price (80%) as very important, followed by supplier reliability (73%) and the ability to expand the product as the business grows (73%). ).
The challenges faced by entrepreneurs and managers of small and medium-sized enterprises are very numerous, but Spanish SMEs, as well as the rest of the world, highlight in particular:
access to capital as one of the top three obstacles to operations getting new clients as the biggest challenge for business growth maintaining financial growth, which is the most common difficulty for future growth
“SMEs are of paramount importance in the Spanish economy, and at Salesforce we consider providing our support in these difficult times our obligation,” said Rui Costa, regional vice president of Salesforce Iberia. “With this study, we have verified their level of strength and resilience, and we hope it will inspire all types of businesses to weather the storm we are going through. I have no doubt that they will be able to face the future with optimism, hope and, of course, with the best technology to put the customer at the center of the business ”.
SMBs Are Prioritizing Customer Safety and Changing Their Interactions The COVID-19 pandemic has affected businesses across industries, sizes and regions, dramatically shifting their priorities. Thus, for 64%, health and hygiene policies are now an area of attention, followed by the mandates of local health authorities (59%), the offer of contactless services (48%) or the guarantee social distance in physical establishments (43%). However, the customer experience remains essential, so SMEs have changed their interactions with consumers, for example by being more careful in communications (55%), by expanding communication channels (47%), by offering a more high flexibility (44%) or prioritization of relationship development (34%).
The optimism of SMEs persists despite the new challenges. There is no doubt that the challenges SMEs face are enormous, in fact 57% say they struggle to keep their business afloat. However, 72% were optimistic about the future in August (up from 80% in March). In fact, more than one in five (22%) say they are very optimistic about the future. It should be noted, however, that inequality is also a problem in this area, as SMEs whose managers have high incomes are more likely to feel optimistic and remain fully open during the pandemic, compared to those with lower incomes. weaker. SMEs with a good digital investment are better equipped to cope with market volatility. 51% of SMEs surveyed say that technology guides their interactions with customers and 46% say it influences their organization’s ability to stay open and operational. In addition, 56% say they have already adopted a CRM system (24% more than in the study of the previous year) and, among them, 63% cite better and faster customer service as one of their advantages. . However, for many, the pandemic is negatively affecting their investment in technology, with 43% saying it has slowed in recent months. SMEs are preparing for the crises of the future: 47% of SMEs anticipate slight changes in the way they operate, while 33% think they will return to normal after the pandemic. Among the measures they have taken to adapt to the new situation, the adoption of technologies to digitize interactions with customers and offer contactless services (38%), the digitization of internal communications (35%) and tools for digitizing customer flows stand out. work (34%) tops the list.