Since 2009 we have been publishing our Annual 12 Sales Trends reports. It has been very interesting to see the speed at which these trends are taking hold and becoming the new normal in business. Here is the fifth Sales Trend for 2014 – The Move to Micro Sales Segmentation.

In 2014 sales teams are dealing with specific complexities (down markets, knowledgeable buyer, buyers with the pressure to cut costs, buyers that are ill-informed, etc). The approach that Marketing has to segmentation doesn’t completely deal with these particularities, so sales needs to re-think how to segment markets.

Marketing segmentation doesn’t work for sales. Buyers, even the ones with common requirements, have very unique and specific requests, and the broad marketing segmentation can’t deal with them. Traditional segmentation falls short of the individual buyer expectations, desires and needs.

Moreover, clients in different segments want solutions that are similar but are not identical. So sales will have to develop the ability to make changes to standard products and services to deal with individual customer’s expectations.

Sales will miss the opportunity to tackle individual expectations if it doesn’t narrow down its segmentation to a micro market level. And if sales misses that opportunity, it will also lose any chance of developing a competitive advantage.

Companies have to start looking at segments from the point of view of how attractive it is to buyers in each segment and how effectively they can compete. A key here is to stratify the markets correctly.

The function of strategic sales in 2014 is to define the most attractive segments. When a group of clients buys a different version of the product and / or where buyers pay in different formats (e.g. terms, credit cards, etc.) and / or when buyers expect a different sales approach (e.g. key accounts, versus once off purchases) each represents a different segment. Sales managers know this, and assess each group based on its attraction to the company and how competitive the company is in the segment, as well as how attractive the company is to buyers in the segment.

Traditional segmentation usually takes into account how attractive is a segment to a company, and how competitive is the company on that segment. Sales segmentation also includes a third parameter, how attractive is the company to buyers in that segment. Those Sales Managers (and their teams) that can work through this will come out of 2014 stronger.

Remember, everybody lives by selling something.

Author: Sue Barrett

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