Focus On Where You Can Sell Your Products

Developing A Market When You're Not Number One

by  Barry Gottlieb

Your company's perception is that your product(s) are as good or better than the market leaders, but you either have a small portion of the market or your portion of the market is getting smaller. So you read one of the many books that tells you how as a Sales or Marketing Manager, you can make your company number one. Then reality sets in and you realize that your goal is to grow the sales and market position of your company even if you cannot make your company number one.

The challenge most companies face is that having the best-designed product(s) is not always the answer to increased sales and market position. You must focus on where you can sell your products.

Here are some recommendations on how to start doing this:

Analyze Your Company

First, you must analyze your company to see if your company has been properly selling itself into the market you address. For example, look into these three things:

  • The past results of the promises your company has made to customers to deliver a particular combination of price, quality, performance, etc.
  • The present ability your company has to deliver on these promises.
  • How well your company has done in forming relationships with customers. Are there many of them to use as a basis for growth?

Also, it is important to note if your company has been technology driven where in the past the company felt their superior products would sell, and investing in marketing and sales was not deemed important or necessary. Obviously, you must work to change this and become more market driven.

Analyze The Markets

Second, analyze the markets into which you sell your company's product(s). Into what part of the market has your company had the most success in selling? If the market segments happen to break down by the size of the customers (i.e., the semiconductor market), are your customers only in the medium and smaller size market segments? Is the large size customer's segment dominated by one company that has more than 51% of the market and /or by several large companies that have more than 80% of the market?

If the large company(s) control this much of the market, it is usually because:

  • They had the first product(s) introduced during the beginning of the strong market growth for those products.
  • They sell many products into this market and can offer a package deal where your product(s) are only a small part of the total equipment buy. They can then offer a better price, better on-site service, etc.
  • They have introduced new and more advanced technology to meet the market needs.
  • They have better marketing and sales, and have convinced customers their products are the ones to buy.
  • The present market is consolidating around buying only from a few large market leaders.

Determine Open Market Segments

Third, after analyzing the markets, you must present a report of the open market segments to management in a way that they can see it as the best direction for the company to go. Your report must show the parts of the market in which your company has had the most success. It should give a clear definition of the optimum customer type for your company's product(s). Specifically, a customer type that has gotten the most from your company and your company's product(s) and has formed a relationship because of perceived greater benefits from them versus the market leader(s). A potential customer list can then be provided.

If your report shows that the market segments to go after are not into larger customers but into the medium or smaller sized customers, then you will perhaps face resistance from within. They might want you to focus on landing one large customer instead of more medium and smaller customers. Investigate this by approaching one of the large companies in this market. See if they will buy from a company that is not the market leader or that they have been buying from in the past. If you cannot find a high-level "internal sales person" with the power to make the decision for your company's product(s), then the chances of selling into this market segment are small.

Meanwhile, as a result of your report, your company is focusing on expanding sales into the potential customer list as defined in your report. Seminars, equipment displays, samples, etc. should be focused into this market segment where chances of success are the greatest.

Some of the benefits of focusing on this defined market segment are:

  • Increased efficiency of the sales and marketing effort.
  • Customers perception that you are more interested in their business since the market leader(s) are spending 80% of their effort on the larger customers.
  • Customers relate better to your company as they have the same size problems in selling into their markets.
  • Increased success gives "success stories" that can be used to find that "hero" inside a larger customer that will take a chance on a winner.

If you Focus on Where You Can Sell Your Products, your companies chances of increasing sales go up significantly.