The VAR Guy Blog

8 Tips to Creating a Successful Vertical Market Practice

Many organizations today are beginning to expect more from their solution providers. Topping the list of IT partner qualifications these days is a thorough understanding of the end-user’s business and industry—and they’re willing to pay extra for it. Here are 8 tips to adding industry-specific solutions to your portfolio.

They  include:

1. Be willing to invest in your business. Making fundamental changes to your business requires investment and, perhaps equally important, a commitment to succeed. Take time to review your financials and talk with your employees to be sure you’re all in it together. If you don’t have a long-range strategic plan for your business, you won’t know what success looks like or how to measure progress as you drive into new markets. Make time to identify the what, why, and how you are going to build for the future before moving forward.

2. Assess your current capabilities to determine which industries are right for your business. The best way to ensure you’re asking the right questions is to engage with an industry expert. Every industry has its own set of complexities, requirements, challenges and rewards. Also, there may be geographic or economic reasons to favor one industry over another.

3. Gain tribal knowledge. Your sales and marketing teams will need to fully understand the “ins and outs” of your targeted industry. From the pain points impacting growth to the “lingo” used on the job, you and your team must be able to converse with clients using their language. This is crucial to becoming a trusted advisor to your customers and, ultimately, winning their repeat business.

4. Brush up on your data center skills. In most cases, you’ll be solving business problems for your vertical market customers with technologies that reside in their data center. Technology evolves constantly, and your customers are relying on you to recommend the latest hardware, software, services and cloud offerings that meet their business objectives. Be sure your team has the technical knowledge and certifications needed to address customer needs.

5. Beef up your services offerings. Services are an essential element of a complete solution. If you don’t already have a strong services bench, you can partner with Avnet or a services provider to secure the resources and expertise you’ll need to implement solutions in targeted industries. And remember that since most investments in new infrastructure are borne from a desire to increase efficiency and lower operating costs, a cloud-based solution or service may be needed. Be sure you have the cloud computing knowledge and resources you’ll need.

6. Rethink marketing. Marketing to vertical market customers requires a special set of resources and tactics. You’ll want to consider traditional lead generation activities, as well as other tactics such as branding your business as one that “gets” the market you’re targeting. You’ll also want to strongly consider whitespace opportunities. You’ll be ahead of the game by finding a marketing firm with the experience to help you hit the mark the first time. Avnet partners benefit from our robust demand generation services, plus our market and technical expertise.

7. Review sales incentives. While selling into a vertical can be profitable, it may require more effort from your sales force. Review your sales incentives to be sure your incentive plans reflect your sales team’s training time, willingness to embrace change and the extra effort required to identify, sell and close deals in new markets and with new customers.

8. Partner to get to market faster, cheaper. It’s been reported that to enter a new market, a typical business will spend about 18% (or more) of its annual revenue. Instead of trying to do it yourself, why not partner with a market leader to guide you through the necessary steps? Avnet’s SolutionsPath Engagement Service can do precisely that, at a much lower cost and at an accelerated pace.

Partnering Up

Through our strategic consulting service, you benefit from a structured approach that helps you design, sell and deliver data center solutions into high-growth IT markets such as healthcare, government and education, energy, retail and the bank and financial services industry. Supporting our vertical market expertise is the breadth of our data center solutions specializations, spanning cloud computing, mobility, storage, security, networking and virtualization.

With experts in high-growth industries, leading data center technologies, business strategy, marketing and a full suite of Data Center Lifecycle Services to support our SolutionsPath Engagement Service, Avnet believes in the value of building a targeted solutions strategy. We are actively investing to ensure our partners get to market faster, and at a lower cost than going it alone.

As the economy continues to mend, think about the course your company is on and how specializing in a vertical market could help boost growth. By investing now you’ll leap ahead of your competitors and enjoy a deeper bond with your customers.



Michael Houghton is VP of vertical market solutions for Avnet Technology Solutions, Americas. Monthly guest blogs such as this one are part of The VAR Guy’s annual sponsorship. Read all of Houghton’s guest blogs here.

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