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How NOT to Sell to a Vertical Market

By Bill Farquhars… on August 05, 2019

The term, “Vertical Market” is used to define categories of prospects, such as banks, hospitals, colleges, restaurants, construction, and so on. The thinking is, if you can learn to sell to one, you can merrily crusade to another and find a similar situation, offer a similar solution, and make a second sale. Then another. And another.

That’s how it works on paper, anyway.

But there’s a right way and a wrong way to sell to verticals. Here it is in short:

“It’s not about what they buy. It’s about why they buy it.”

There. Does that make sense? No? Okay, then consider these two scenarios:

Approach #1: You know that banks do posters. You look up the name of the buyer at a local bank using LinkedIn, connect, gain an appointment, have that appointment, offer to quote, quote, and then get the “Your price is too high” result you’ve been getting a lot of lately.


Approach #2: You drive by your bank. In the window is a big sign that reads, “Refinance your car loan with us at 3.99%” and recognize that the bank is trying to get more clients while getting more from existing clients. You walk in, learn the name of the person in charge of that initiative from the branch manager, call, gain an appointment, have that appointment, talk about how you can help them get greater share of customer, hear how the existing effort is going, offer up a new idea, earn a NO BID order, and build a plan to repeat this process with other banks.

Why did approach #2 work? Because the sales rep took the time to look past the specs and get to the “why?” The poster is seen as an indicator the bank is trying to grow. The rep found the requisitioner of the posters and worked out a new solution instead of finding the buyer and throwing prices around.

What they buy are posters. If you quote, you’ll likely lose.

Why they buy posters is to grow revenue. If you solve that, you’ll likely win.

It’s not what a vertical buys, it’s why they buy it. Understand. Win. Repeat.

Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi have sold digital print themselves and create a lot of content around the subject.  Their book, Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing is available on Amazon. Bill Farquharson can be found at and Kelly Mallozzi is reachable through