In my last post I talked about how the positioning of ACT! came about. We went from describing it by all the things it did, to what it was–the best-selling contact manager.

Contatta has been the hardest product I have ever been involved with to correctly position and message. SalesLogix, my second startup was actually easy. It was the leading mid-market CRM product. It went from $0 to $108MM in 5 years. We owned the mid-market. A good “position” can be a lot of things: the “best,” “leading,” “first,” “fastest,” “cheapest,” or “safest.” It can also be a premium in a new category, a segment of a category, a geography or a vertical market.

You get the idea. Be something unique to a meaningful group of customers that can readily be identified and marketed to.

There have been times with Contatta when I wasn’t sure we would ever get it right. We tested several different positions, but until just recently, none of them felt “right.” The main problem was that all the co-founders had strong CRM backgrounds. When building something new and different, it was so easy to just “run home to mama”! We started off to do CRM, but we were going to do it different and better.

Missing PieceWith both ACT! and SalesLogix we had tried to build great integrations with both Outlook and Gmail. Virtually every CRM product has integrations with email. These integrations basically sucked–including the ones we built. There were a bunch of things we would have liked to be able to do seamlessly, but couldn’t because neither Outlook nor Gmail were built to be integrated to. One of the main differentiators with our new CRM was we were the first to build our own CRM-centric email client. We also wanted our new CRM to be highly collaborative to facilitate the communication and collaboration that happens in most selling.

Well, we did such a good job of email and collaboration, when we showed it to potential CRM customers, journalists and analysts, they all said, “This is great, but it’s not CRM.” We would then ask, “Well, what do you think it is?” Virtually everyone answered, “I have no idea, but I want it!”

So we knew we had something, but what it was eluded us for a long time. Most things are not totally brand new. They are innovations within an existing category. BMW is “performance.” Mercedes and Bentley are “luxury.” But both are in the Automobile Category. Contatta was Gmail meets ACT! meets Yammer meets Basecamp meets Dropbox. Yikes! The same problem I had with ACT!

It took us over two years to build Contatta and another year to figure out just what it was.

Collaborative Email

We had reimagined email by combining several major software elements with email in a way that had never been done before. Everything we were building was collaborative, but email was at the heart of it all. Then it hit us: Collaborative Email. We loved it immediately, because it fit and was something we could honestly say was the first and only. We have now widely tested the position, and people get it! Email made collaborative. It is credible, because it is obvious how different it is from regular email. It is–well, email made collaborative. Contatta–The World’s Only Collaborative Email.

And what an awesome position it is! We went from a focusing on a market where the industry leader has about 2.5MM users, to one with 900MM global business users of email. Email has hardly changed in 20 years. It is well past time for something new. We believe you’re going to agree that we may just have the next big thing–Collaborative Email. Check it out!