The concept of verticalization is rapidly spreading. In this article, "Chambers Issues Verticalization Call To Partners", John Chambers, Cisco's noteworthy CEO, has made the call to all partners to go vertical. In this article he acknowledges that the challenges to move in this direction will be great, but the ultimate payoffs can be even greater. In this same article, Cisco's SVP of Worldwide Channels, Paul Mountford, says, "You can make more margin based on your differentiation". He is referring to relationship differentiation only possible with going vertical.
Any time an organization changes from a technical, horizontal-focus to a vertical-focus AND their solutions are complex, enterprise-wide impacting, like Cisco's, the transition is even more difficult. This is because complex, enterprise-wide impacting solutions require an executive level sales approach. As I learned the hard way, early in my career, in this case the executives require that you have a certain level of expertise in their vertical. You must, right off-the-bat, demonstrate that you understand their vertical and their role specific issues. That's a far departure from selling at the lower levels where product knowledge is king.
I will be conducting another webcast on this subject this Thursday, 8/11, from 2-3pm Eastern Time. If you are interested in attending just shoot me an email as an RSVP. In turn you will receive an invitation with web info and dial-in info.