pexels-fauxels-3184416 _ industry specialist vs. generalist; business meeting, people shaking handsI’ve long been curious about-industry specialization within the sales process. I don’t mean to sound like those old Norelco shaver commercials, but I like specialization so much, I founded not one but two companies that focus on it!

Industry specialization enables sales and marketing people to be experts on their client’s or prospect’s business, which in turn allows them to provide value-added insights and tailored solutions to that business.

Indeed, specialization is the name of the game these days across most sales organizations. Your clients and prospects expect you to know them, know their preferences, know their business. But as a salesperson who calls on countless businesses in a wide array of industries, how can you possibly know the ins and outs of each one of them?

Industry specialization for technology sales

I recently was speaking with a Vertical IQ prospect who works for a software technology firm. His company sells to eight different sectors, so he was hired to help them become more specialized in those verticals (financial services, manufacturing, tech, telecom, and a few others).

His mission is essentially to beef up his own industry knowledge, as well as his team’s, so the company can sell to those industries in a more value-added way. In essence, he is selling the same product to each of these eight sectors but with slightly different messaging, features, pricing, and sales processes.

One of the reasons my tech prospect wants Vertical IQ is because he frequently makes presentations to their sales teams and executives. He needs unique industry knowledge so he can discuss the ins and outs of their niches: the size and number of players in the industry, common pain points, demographics, cyclicality, the latest news, and so forth.

Talking with this prospect, his story is a classic example of why and how you need to adapt to the industry you are selling to (i.e., industry specialization) — but also why it can be so challenging when you call on a large number of different niches.

A common sales challenge: Industry knowledge that is too broad to be relevant

So, here’s this tech salesperson’s bottom-line issue — and it’s one we hear again and again from companies we talk to: How do you specialize in “financial services” (or any other sector, for that matter) when there are 20 to 30 different subsectors of financial services (banks, hedge funds, insurance, insurance brokers, insurance underwriters, leasing, venture capitalists, and brokerage firms, just to name a few)? Each of these subsectors within financial services has its own very unique needs, wants, and ways of doing business.

Then add to the challenge: What happens if your product/service grows and you begin selling to more than two or three sectors, but you still want to specialize? That creates the additional dilemma of needing to be both an industry generalist AND an industry specialist — you try to become as much of a specialist as you can even though you’re selling to a dozen industries or more.

A company that is growing fast and selling to multiple industries must get good at educating their sales and marketing teams to understand the unique drivers for these subsectors. But how do you compile sales sheets, playbooks, and marketing materials for each one of these numerous subsectors?

Sometimes a company (like the tech prospect I was talking with) might have eight sectors they sell to, but within these sectors, there are probably 100+ total subsectors. Ideally, you would have materials tailored to every one of those. How on earth do you accomplish that?

The Industry Intelligence solution

I’ve posed a lot of challenges created by companies’ desire to specialize their sales efforts — an objective based on their client’s and prospect’s expectation that they receive advice and products/services tailored to their unique needs. But all of these issues lead back to a common solution: the effective use of Industry Intelligence written from a sales and marketing perspective.

Industry Intelligence provides the ammunition — the data — that makes industry specialization, as well as creating industry-specific sales playbooks and marketing messages, easy. And the Vertical IQ product is constantly evolving to provide even more of these insights.

Compiling all the necessary Industry Intelligence into one easy-to-use platform, Vertical IQ saves the industry specialists, who are developing these industry-focused materials, gobs of time. It also saves the salesperson time when they are calling on numerous niches and need to get smart fast.

If your company recognizes that industry specialization is what today’s buyers expect, but you’re struggling to get up to speed on your clients’ or prospects’ industry, Vertical IQ can help! Contact us today to learn more and get a free demo!


Image credit: Photo by fauxels from Pexels

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