"Gaining actionable data from comprehensive market research is the single most important step in a business’ venture into uncharted territories."
ST Report Rising Stars 320

How to identify emerging markets for new sales verticals

In the tech industry, things are changing all the time. What’s fresh and important today might be on the sidelines a couple of years from now. So it’s crucial to keep a steady eye toward future developments and identify emerging markets or the next big thing for your business. Each year, there are new sales verticals that see significant growth and deserve attention. In that regard, sales leaders are generally taught (correctly, I might add) that data is crucial to any strategic decision-making. However, in order to avoid costly mistakes, a business needs to have a clear picture of the market before entering. Take a few minutes to see what exactly you need to do to identify emerging markets for new sales verticals.

Define your key market segments

The aim of your key market segmentation is to gain a deeper sense within the general market in order to identify where the biggest openings lie. By focusing your research on key segments, your business can learn a great deal about these customers and with this information can begin to craft highly targeted marketing campaigns. In turn, these will yield customers who have more specific needs and characteristics your product or service can successfully address.

How do you achieve this? By using the proper technology that will provide you with necessary business intelligence. Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, 2017 counts digital platforms as one of three distinct megatrends that will “enable businesses to survive and thrive in the digital economy over the next five to 10 years”. A digital platform brings a full spectrum of features that can help you uncover untapped opportunities.

Identify emerging markets for new sales verticalsImage credit: Lynda

As such, the focus shifts to collecting every bit of valuable data (both from your existing customers and prospects alike) to truly leverage the power of digital platforms. Demographics is one of the common ways to segment markets, including company type and size, the industry it’s in, sales volume, and so on. Geography goes hand in hand with demographics, pertaining to location, customer concentration, growth rate, etc. However, in the tech world, these contribute to only a small part of finding the commonalities for your product or service’s value. Identifying the most promising scenarios hinges on your ability to detect relevant technology aspect of a business, particularly a SaaS one. For starters, this can provide you with an indication of a given business’s focus. A deeper look can reveal correlated technologies and services, where you can find out what overlapping technologies potential customers are using and how they apply them. These critical insights can broaden your initial focus and uncover new sales verticals to tap into, not to mention other technologies, services, and geographies to explore next. Gaining actionable data from a comprehensive market research is the single most important step in a business’ venture into uncharted territories.

Understand your competitive landscape

Knowing who you compete with for that sweet piece of market-shaped cake is vital to evaluating your chances for success, as well as emerging opportunities. Through a proper understanding of your competitive landscape, you can find out who the key players are and figure out where you stand amongst them. Start by taking a wide scan in order to determine who are your main key competitors and identify their customers. This gives you a chance to map out the competing technology solutions, learn their strengths and weaknesses, and see which ones have an edge in which market segments. These include the number of clients each competitor has, their top clients, geographical and industry breakdown, etc.). From there on, you can begin to evaluate the top competitive threats and determine the availability and accessibility of the market.

Compensate for deficiencies of emerging markets

In these environments, competition is often lacking or potentially dysfunctional – an opportunity in itself. However, that doesn’t open the doors for your business to swoop in and knock customers off their feet. While in some cases your solution makes segmentation easier you offer few tangible, unique benefits that appeal to these markets, but that’s not a rule, rather an exception. The B2B world is populated with companies who have needs diverse as Google’s portfolio, which means some are more likely to commit to a purchase than others. Also, their timing in adopting new products or services can be radically different than what your sales reps are used to.

Compensate for deficiencies of emerging marketsImage credit: Incentive Incubator

Arguably the most important aspect in selling to a new market is tailoring your message and solution to cater to the specific needs of the market. To be successful, you need to define very specific value propositions for your solution. For instance, what problem does the prospect have and how do you intend to solve it? How does your solution differ from the existing one or those of your competitors? Try to reveal particular components of your solution that relieve specific pain points, define clear benefits to clients and validate with your existing pool of customers to identify types of companies and clients you haven’t even thought off before.

Change your thinking

Often, the overwhelming mix of rapid fluctuations and increased competition in emerging markets effectively puts a premium price tag on actionable insights regarding potential customers. As these critical pieces of information become more important in the crowded SMB environment, obtaining them the old fashion way through fact-collecting approaches such as focus groups (remember those?) becomes both time-consuming and cost-prohibitive. Regardless of the means, sales leaders need to raise their understanding of customer needs to a whole new level.

We’re talking about embracing digital culture to the fullest, especially to fuel growth; it’s one area where companies seem to struggle in terms of reducing inefficiencies with tech. According to a report from McKinsey & Company, approximately one-third of B2B companies take more than 12 months to implement a new digital initiative. Further analysis shows less than 15 percent use verified methods that drive innovation and customer satisfaction. The report also shows that there is an emerging class of sophisticated and tech savvy sales leaders. As a result, their companies are collecting and using data in a number of ways to generate value both for themselves and their customers.

Armed with real-time information, this fairly new breed of sales leaders gain insights into new buying behaviors that create opportunities in new sales verticals. Equipped with relevant data and technology, small and medium companies can follow suit and turn customer data into a powerful combination of vital insights their salespeople can use to drive sales in these verticals.