Building Market Share: Vertical Business Intelligence

July 6th, 2009 by

By Pat Hinds

As a young salesperson I was opportunity focused; I was given a product and a territory and told to go sell. In this type of selling my use of business intelligence (BI) was ad hoc; I would make a sales call into a company and ask a few question using a sales process I learned at Dale Carnegie. If I got a deal started I would take the time to learn more about the company during the sales cycle and share the BI verbally with my manager; however, at no time did I ever document the information. An example of this was a sales experience I had in the early 1990’s with a company called Fracmaster. This company was an innovator of a fracking process used in oil & gas drilling; at that time the exploration market was in a growth mode and as a result, Fracmaster was a great customer. I did well selling computers to this company, but I had no other oil service companies in the fracking business as a customer. I was a young sales rep who did not have the knowledge to target companies within a vertical; and the company I was working for did not have the sales method in place to coach me on vertical selling.

Successful vertical selling starts with capturing business intelligence about a target vertical; listed below is a brief definition of business intelligence from Wikipedia:

Business intelligence (BI) refers to skills, technologies, applications and practices used to help a business acquire a better understanding of its commercial context. Business intelligence may also refer to the collected information itself.

In a 1958 article, IBMresearcher Hans Peter Luhn used the term business intelligence. He defined intelligence as:[1] “the ability to apprehend the interrelationships of presented facts in such a way as to guide action towards a desired goal.”

In 1989 Howard Dresner (later a Gartner Group analyst) proposed BI as an umbrella term to describe “concepts and methods to improve business decision making by using fact-based support systems.”[2] It was not until the late 1990s that this usage was widespread.

Building BI for a Vertical Market

I recommend using the following four steps as the frame work for building BI for a targeted vertical. The purpose of the process is to build a foundation for transitioning from an opportunity based sales organization to a market share sales organization.

Step 1, Vertical Fingerprint: This is a high level understanding of a specific vertical and how it operates. In my previously posted blogs entitled, Western Canada Oil Table & Western Canada Gas Table, I built a table that outlines the core businesses of Oil & Gas companies including light oil, heavy oil, oil sands, conventional gas, tight gas, shale gas and coal bed methane. An example of how you would use this information would be if you decided that you wanted to target energy producers and a company that identifies its core business as one of the topics listed above. If so, it would qualify as a company in the energy producer vertical. This information then sets up the foundation of the framework for the customer fingerprint and the market model process.

Step 2, Customer Fingerprint: Now the you have identified a strategic vertical you need to build a customer fingerprint; typical information included would be financial data, a customer overview, lines of business (products), employees and geographic information.

Step 3, Contact Fingerprint: In vertical selling you start to see a job description trend that can be captured and used in the vertical selling process; typical information includes job title, geographic location and business unit.

Step 4, CRM Integration of Customer Fingerprint: It is key that this information be structured so it can be integrated into a company’s CRM as well as being aligned with the companies strategic selling methodology. If the vertical, customer, and contact fingerprint are done correctly the information can be used to build search criteria that will help companies target specific applications within strategic verticals using targeted sales and marketing initiatives.

Topics: Business Intelligence