Peer to Peer: Premium value placed on business specialization

How important is specialization to business growth?   

MICHELA QUILICI - Marketing strategist and Ghost CEO adviser, Q. Consulting

“The quickest way to business success is to be a big fish in a small pond, not a small fish in a big pond.” This is the Ghost CEO mantra. If you solve a niche problem really well, it’s almost inevitable that you will grow. Once you have a proven model for success, then you can increase the size of your pond and leverage what you’ve mastered for one vertical and open up new markets. If you trace back some of the most successful businesses to their early days, you will find that the majority that are in a mass market today first made their money targeting niche markets with a specific offering.

I learned the power of specializing first-hand when I ran the marketing department for one of the fastest-growing Internet companies named by Profit 100. We specialized in selling job ad space online to the hospitality industry. We aligned our marketing message, sales team and strategic alliances to serve one niche and in seven years we grew the business to multi-seven-figures and sold the company for a multiple of revenue.

When advising professionals how to build a profitable business, I always work on the premise of developing a marketing strategy that will pave the fastest way to increasing bottom-line revenues. One way to do this is to stop being a generalist because it sentences you to a lifetime of competing on price. The more specialized your offering, the more people will be willing to pay a premium for it.

If your business goal is to effectively and efficiently attract, engage and close business, then the simplest way to do that is to specialize.

PAULINE O’MALLEY - Business development strategist, RevTurbo Selling System

The secret to successful selling is connection. Does your product or service connect with the audience that you are communicating with?

I have found over the years that matching “likes” to “likes” is paramount when building a winning business development campaign and closing deals. You probably have heard the expression, “Birds of a feather flock together.” People have a tendency to say “yes” more often to people they trust. People generally trust people who have things in common with them.

I had a client in manufacturing under second-generation leadership. After analyzing their product mix and their areas of expertise and carefully considering their available resources, we encouraged them to cut 172 products from their production line and focus 100% on one area. A bold move? Yes, and for the past seven years they have surpassed their annual revenues by 20% or more each year. It wasn’t a light decision, and there was lots of discourse, but in the end, the team effort to focus on one thing continues to pay off.

It’s a big world out there. Companies have limited resources. Sales representatives have limited time. Match who you are, and the values you express, to the people in specific market sectors.

If you have an interest in mechanics or building things, then you could narrow your focus to people in the manufacturing, industrial or engineering fields. If you like numbers, financial analytics and wearing suits, then you could find success in the banking, financial or insurance sectors.

When you connect with your sales audience, you increase the potential to shorten sales cycles and close more deals. You may also have more fun.

SUSAN CHAMBERS - Managing director, teleCAT Communications

“But I do this, this, this, this and this. I just want more clients. Doesn’t really matter who you talk to; we can do business with them. We do it all.”

Great – knock yourself out. Because this lead generator/prospector/cold caller/telemarketer doesn’t have time to waste. However, if you want strategic, timely results within a measured time, up your game and focus, narrow down and “niche,” as we like to say.

I’ve been prospecting on behalf of business-to-business clients throughout North America for 20-plus years, and there has never been a shortage of prospects and businesses to call.

To move the sales process forward, your prospects need to understand who you are and what you do. So make it easy to be understood and represent one aspect of the many services and products that you offer.  Understand and point out the discrete business issues that your niche target market faces. Tailor your introduction, message and business value proposition to your prospect. Be focused on how you address the issue and give industry (niche) relevant examples.

With niche comes fluency, tips, cues, language and competitive intelligence. All of this is critical to your ability to pick up the phone and comfortably represent yourself, your brand and your organization.

Niche means getting better at your craft, trade and profession. Getting better can mean different things to different businesses. Maybe it means working with less stress, higher fees, greater productivity, more clients and growing revenues.

In my experience the niche principle applies, be you a one-person shop or a multinational.

Make it a “niche new year.”