Identifying New Market Opportunities

Opportunity mapping enables you to maximise your marketing and sales effectiveness.


Most market sectors today are comprised of a diverse range of niche players who have varied needs and business drivers.

Companies that target any market as one broad vertical run the risk of developing positioning that misses its mark, making the sales and marketing process more difficult and more expensive than it needs to be. To maximise your marketing and sales effectiveness and minimise selling costs, it is necessary to understand the market from a more detailed perspective.

Opportunity mapping is a great way to do this as it enables micro market analysis, helping you to uncover potential you never knew existed. It provides three key advantages:

  • A better understanding of opportunities to penetrate niche target markets.
  • Insight into the business problems amongst specific types of users.
  • Discovery of where the true competition lies versus perceived competition.

This type of mapping can be applied in a number of different scenarios: when sales teams are growing, when you want to optimise the size of the sales team, when you maximise your existing traction and market share, and when markets have changed radically – as many have in the past few years.

In each of these scenarios, the opportunity map allows thorough analysis of the market so that you can clearly identify opportunities and not be limited by current perception.

A ten step process

  1. Defining the macro geographic area: Begin by defining the macro geographic area in which the business wants to operate. This should be a simple decision based on strategy, which will generally be driven by expansion, reduction or product.
  2. Define the target market: Who is going to be the user of the products you sell or launch? Ensure that you have a clear definition of who they are to make the exercise as accurate as possible.
  3. Using available Data Sources: Use data sources that are freely available about companies’ lines of business, areas of operation, number of employees, IT infrastructure, fleet size and so on to give you an idea of what the potential could be. The ability to calculate or estimate the potential spend or purchases of prospects or customers in the target market you have chosen means drilling down to a granular level to calculate the average spend of each customer in each area.
  4. Do a spend gap analysis: The information gleaned from existing purchases by customers in similar industries and areas, and with a similar number of employees, will give you a more accurate assessment of potential spend.
  5. Try Research customer buying trends: Try to find out where these prospects are buying their existing products or services and, if possible, how much they are spending with your competitors.
  6. Displace competitors: Careful competitor analysis will enable you to determine their strengths and weaknesses. This will help you to formulate a product pricing strategy and to position your business in relation to your competitors in micro markets.
  7. Prioritising areas: Prioritise the geographical areas with the greatest sales potential and the least cost to cover.
  8. Structure your sales team: Once you have prioritised the areas depending on size and potential within each, you can structure the sales team. How are you going to cover all prospects, from telesales through to taking care of existing business, and breaking into the lucrative new market potential within the area? Territory reps, product reps, major account reps – all must be aligned with the identified potential and deployed at micro market level according to expected future opportunities.
  9. Successful training for sales people: The one issue that will determine success, is how well the sales people are trained to handle the opportunities and the relative size of the organisation, and, knowing their competitive position, are they breaking in, sharing or dominating.
  10. Remember that circumstances can constantly change: For this process to work, you cannot do it once and then forget about it. Continuous updating of data, either through research or a CRM system is essential. Your sales people play a huge role in keeping data up to date. Make sure that all new information is fed into your system all the time. Analyse, reassess and recalculate on an ongoing basis. I do not believe you can rely only on sales people to update data. There are many companies that gather, analyse and sell data and it’s worth making use of their services.