Tag Archives: Horizontal

How Do You Expand the Sales Funnel? Six Solutions

Situation: A company has strong technology and good top customers. However, the CEO is concerned that the company is too dependent on a few large clients. She wants to increase business among mid-tier clients. How do you expand the sales funnel?

Advice from the CEOs:

  •  Get very crisp in identifying who your core customer is and focus on them near term. Look at what you offer that your competition can’t match and create appealing offers for new clients.
  • Simplify and clearly define your market position.
    • Here’s an example: First to market with the best, smallest, fastest solution.
    • This clearly defines who you are. Focus the company on delivering this.
  •  In each high potential market find one company to whom you can offer a significant advantage.
    • Their current market position might be number 2, 3 or 4. Offer them a solution to gain an advantage on #1 and shift the playing field. This is a win-win for both you and them.
  • Horizontal business expansion could be the best near-term strategy. This lets each vertical market solve their own problems of technology direction, logistics, etc. Seek customers who have the resources to manage this in their respective market places.
  • Tailor contract minimums and pricing according to customer order commitments. Be willing to sacrifice price and some margin for committed purchases that match your timelines and resources.
    • Buyers often overstate their anticipated needs because they don’t want to be caught with short supply.
    • You can meet and promise lower prices for higher volumes because they rarely order them. However, combine this commitment with higher prices for the lower volumes that they are more likely to order.
  • Look across markets and focus on promising targets.
    • Use a call center to queue up prospecting telephone calls.
    • Have sales people conduct scripted qualification calls with prospects by telephone.
    • Only send sales people out to talk to qualified prospects. This saves travel expense and increases the productivity of in-person sales calls.

How Do You Expand into New Markets? Three Perspectives

Situation: A CEO is evaluating a horizontal market development opportunity to markets related to their current market. There may be branding implications. The new opportunity focused on a different sector and can add business unrelated to current customers. However, the new opportunity will stretch current resources and potentially impact current business and service delivery. How do you expand into new markets?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • Pros:
    • Because the new opportunity utilizes known capabilities the company should be able to segue into the new market relatively easily.
    • Because the company is already familiar with security and other issues relevant to the new market, compliance should present no challenge.
  • Cons:
    • Consider the impact on company time and resources. Building any new business will challenge current priorities and will require a careful balancing of efforts to assure that both current and new customers’ needs are being met.
    • Build workload and service schedules for both existing customers and the effort that it will take to develop the new opportunity including the time needed to create and build new customer relationships. Take your best estimate of resource utilization for the new effort and double it, then ask whether your current staff and capacity can handle both markets. If the answer is positive, then you can be more comfortable with the decision to expand into new markets.
  • As you evaluate the new market opportunity, look at both anticipated and unanticipated but predictable challenges that customers may face over the next five years.
    • For example, is there misalignment between future challenges likely to be faced and the current expertise and skill sets of managers who will be tasked with addressing these challenges? If so, tailor the sales pitch for new capacities to address these challenges.
    • Are there existing mismatches between products and services currently offered in the new markets, and do proposed solutions help to address these mismatches? If so, there may be significant opportunities in addressing these mismatches across multiple customers within the affected markets.