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March 2009

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The Revenue Orchard                          

Industry Specialization a "Must Have" for Enterprise Sales

In our 2008 Enterprise Industry Specialization Benchmarking Study, 100% of participants agreed that industry specialization is a "must-have for enterprise sales."  In early 2008, approximately half of the companies reported that they were increasing their industry focus, re-aligning more resources to specific verticals, and improving their industry-specific go-to-market strategy. Nowhere did we see evidence of decreasing specialization.

Also among our findings in 2008:

Marketing and sales functions tend to be more specialized than other parts of the business, with marketing usually being the catalyst for specialization efforts. (In the chart below, 5 meant completely aligned to industries, while 0 meant completely cross-industry.)


Industry marketing groups reported spending just over 1/3 of their time  supporting sales in deals. They the rest of their time among a broad mix of activities, from messaging and go-to-market strategy to design and execution of lead-generation campaigns and alliance development.. An IDC Vertical leadership survey released in 2007 noted that industry-specific case studies were considered the most valuable among industry marketing tactics. Based on Shirman Group research, the average industry revenue per industry marketing staff member was approximately $25 million.

While only 1/3 of companies said they have industry-aligned sales reps for all enterprise accounts, all respondents had industry-aligned reps for their top accounts.

B-to-B technology vendors reported that investment in industry focus was paying off in better relationships with senior buyers, improved win rates, and larger deal sizes.  We found that to realize the full potential of industry investments, companies need a long-term view of their industry objectives, and a collaborative, cross-function team to develop new processes and support specialization efforts.

Buy 2008 Industry Specialization Benchmark

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I hope our newsletter provides new insights and sparks ideas.  If so, please forward this letter to colleagues.  Send us your comments and questions - we love hearing from you!   And of course, don't forget to complete the 2009 Industry Specialization Benchmark Survey

Lilia Shirman
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