By focusing your sales efforts on a select, high-potential market segment, you can steal market share in a mature market place.

As stated in a basic Faranda maxim, “the only way to increase market share in a mature market place is to steal it form your competitors.”

A mature market is one that has stopped growing and has leveled off. In other words, the playing field is not getting any larger. To succeed at this level, the players have to play harder and smarter to increase sales. In these situations sales are only increased by stealing them from your competitors.

By itself, selling harder does no ensure an increase in sales. Selling harder requires more effort and incurs more expense of the company and the sales professional. “More calls does not mean more sales,” is the maxim I use to describe this situation.

Selling smart, combined with selling hard is the only guaranteed road to increased sales and profits Along with smart and hard selling, there are three principles to help guide you toward increasing sales in a mature marketplace.

1. To achieve the greatest increase in sales and profits, efforts must be concentrated on selling harder and smarter to the 20 percent of the market that has the greatest potential for your firm. This means you must identify that specific market segment and isolate it from your existing, and potential customers, and focus all your sales efforts on this specific group. By doing this, you are using the concept of “focused” selling rather than “Scattered” selling. Through this method, you are attempting to get the greatest return for the effort and expense involved.

2. Study this 20 percent, high-potential market segment in detail. You must know everything about it. You must know what they buy; who they buy from; how much they buy; who their customers are; what they do for their customers; who the key players are in the organization; and what are their strengths and weaknesses. You must know them as well as you know yourself. Learn their banking connections, their supplier connections and their market connections. Know their products, their services and their after-sales service systems. Become intimate with who this organization is, how they function and how you can help them reach their goals.

3. Establish “Hit Teams.” A Hit Team is a separate sales team devoted to that specific 20 percent high potential market segment. They are a select team of three to five top performers with different, but complementary skills. Selling to large accounts involves different principles from selling to small accounts.

The results of a 12-year study (based on 35,000 sales calls) revealed that “…landing a big account requires a completely different set of skills and strategies than does landing a small account.”

A small account usually requires you to win over a manger or buyer. Thus, you are focusing basically on two people. Often, one person performs the function of manger and buyer, which means you only have to win over one person. This is not true in a large-account situation

A large account requires you to win over or neutralize an entire group of people – from the line manager and the buyer, to the finance director and sales manager, to the VP of sales and the VP of marketing. A large account requires you to sell to a team rather than an individual – a much more difficult selling situation.

Hit Teams are designed to provide you knowledge and power in addressing the high-potential customer’s buying group. In a three-person hit team, you will have a sales professional, a technical professional and a service professional. The sales professional must be skilled at selling to large, high-potential accounts and should be a master at stealing customers from the competition. The technical professional must be skilled in finance, manufacturing, marketing or any specialty that is critical to the customers buying group. The service professional’s skills should be product or customer service.

Once a three-person Hit Team is established, draw up a “hit list” and send your team out to sell to them. Once this has been accomplished, you might want to supplement the Hit Team with one or two additional team members who have special skills that will be valued by the buying group.

Utilized properly, these three principles are the keys to increasing sales and profits. Master these principles and you will master your sales efforts and achieve great success.