Answer the big question and you and your team will answer a thousand little questions. Whether it’s about positioning or something else, if your people keep coming to you with lots of questions, it’s usually because you haven’t answered a big question.

(In past blogs, Why “And” is a Bad Word and Positioning Contatta, Pat Sullivan talked about the importance of “positioning.” The following is an excerpt from the chapter on positioning in Pat’s new ebook,  “10 Keys To Entrepreneurial Success From a Two-Time Entrepreneur Of The Year.)

Answer the big question and you and your team will answer a thousand little questions. Whether it’s about positioning or something else, if your people keep coming to you with lots of questions, it’s usually because you haven’t answered a big question. This is never truer than with positioning. At ACT! there weren’t a lot of questions because everyone was on the same page. We were ACT!, The Best-Selling Contact Manager.  People could now answer many of their own questions simply knowing what we were.

CanyonBy the time we started SalesLogix we knew a lot more about positioning. In “Positioning: The Battle For Your Mind,” by Al Ries and Jack Trout, it talks a lot about the French marketing expression, “cherchez le creneau.” It means, “look for the hole.” So we went looking for a creneau and found a huge, gaping creneau so big you could drive a truck through it.

Then we built a truck.

From Zero to $108 Million

In the mid 1990s the low end of CRM was dominated by ACT!, which was sold at retail. At the high-end were companies like Siebel, Scopus and Vantive. The high-end consisted of enterprise level products that were “sold by suits.”

The creneau was in the mid-market, but we knew the key was in building a product a VAR (value-added reseller) could rapidly sell, customize and profit from. Everything we did was with that in mind. That clear vision told us what to do, and what not to do. We didn’t have to worry about retail or packaging. We didn’t have to worry about hiring the sales teams or support elements necessary for enterprise.

Before the product shipped we had already recruited and trained 50 VARs, so the day it launched all 50 were fully-trained and ready to take the leads.

At SalesLogix we became a marketing, training and selling machine. We woke up everyday with the goal to recruit, train and make productive 50 new VARs a quarter. It’s a goal we never missed. Good execution. Good people. Great product. VARS were lining up to the point that “recruiting” simply became “choosing” which 50 VARs we wanted to take that quarter.

In 18 months we were the #1 Mid Market CRM in the World, and in just five years we grew from nothing to $108 million.

The key was positioning and starting with a very clear vision.

In “Positioning,” Ries and Trout tell us positioning is not something you do to your product, but rather something you do in the mind of your prospect. “That is, you position the product in the mind of the prospect.” The market will only grant a product a single position.  A product can’t be the best “something” AND the best “something else.”  You have one chance to own a position in the mind of the market.  It is critical you figure out what position you can own that no one else does.  I share it with you again here because I believe nothing has been more responsible for my success.

Download your copy of  “10 Keys To Entrepreneurial Success From a Two-Time Entrepreneur Of The Year”