Chairlift Pitch – Vertical vs. Horizontal Selling

January 6th, 2009 by

I went skiing over the Christmas vacation and while riding up the chairlift with a ski buddy, I told him all about POIM and how we help companies implement a vertical selling strategy by offering sales consulting, new product launch and sales outsource services.  My ski buddy is an engineer and doesn’t have any formal sales background; he asked me to give him an example of horizontal and vertical selling and why companies would want to introduce a vertical selling strategy.   When he asked the question we were near the top of the mountain and I had less than a minute to explain the difference between horizontal and vertical selling.  Instead of an elevator pitch, I was asked to make a chairlift pitch on the services offered by POIM and why a company would want to work with POIM. 

I told my ski buddy that in a growing economy it is easy for companies to be “deal focused” and only concerned with 30, 60, and 90 day transactions.  This activity leads to horizontal selling — speaking to as many accounts as possible across multiple sectors seeking customers who are in “product select” mode.  During this economic downturn companies need to take an “account” approach that focuses on how their product solves business problems.  This is a longer term approach that targets an industry based on market potential, documenting business issues, speaking the language, and committing the resources required to secure bellwether reference accounts.  The advantage of vertical selling is it will help companies improve their sales pipeline with qualified leads, increase close rates, and promote better communication with management. 

At the end of the chair lift ride our attention turned to the fresh snow on our favourite run; as a result, I did not get the chance to ask my buddy if the POIM approach made sense.  If you read this blog, please comment on my “chairlift” pitch.  I look forward to hearing from you! 

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