Recently one of our companies had a sales consultant do an audit of its sales team and methodology. Our portfolio company’s market has some interesting traits: i) the market is greenfield and almost all homegrown; ii) ‘no decision’ is the company’s primary competitor; and iii) the market as it stands is currently small, with large enterprises being the target customers. The consultant’s recommendation for us to attack such a market as cash efficiently and resource efficiently as possible was as follows:
-Target a particular vertical and only focus on that vertical until you’ve saturated it. In our particular case, the first vertical to target was hardware and software companies. Once we dominate that vertical, the goal will then be to move into IT Services and Electronics, which are complimentary. As you dominate verticals, the next vertical should be somewhat related so that when you refer to past successes, new customers will be able to relate. For instance it makes no sense for us to go from hardware/software companies to food companies, because food companies may not fully appreciate our past successes in the hardware/software space.
-Focus on landing a buffalo in the vertical. Sign the industry leaders in the vertical, prove the ROI out to them, and then use that buffalo or buffalos as case studies and references to win the rest of the vertical.
-Once you have sales reps who have thoroughly established themselves in your first vertical, move to the next one by repeating the process. Eventually once you have taken down enough complimentary verticals, your success will lead to mainstream adoption from other industries more easily.
If your company is a SaaS business with similar characteristics as ours (greenfield market, no decision is your competitor), then taking a sales approach similar to the above may be the way forward.