It is hard to believe, but it’s almost time for Dreamforce. In what is considered the largest software show on the planet, this year the organizers expect 150,000 people to attend and over 400 companies to exhibit.

The show will be complete, head-spinning mayhem, but also an excellent opportunity to meet clients and check the pulse of our industry. If you’re attending, please let me know so we can grab a few minutes together and catch up. If you’re not attending, I’ll be taking detail notes and provide a synopsis of what you missed.

I am most looking forward to walking the expo hall and talking to exhibitors to learn what’s new, how
they see the market evolving, and how they are attempting to stand out among the crowd and noise. In
past years, most companies really struggled to differentiate from the next.

Companies in our space almost universally claim to help organizations of all shapes and sizes sell better,
faster, and cheaper, but struggle to back up their claims with concrete proof. When I start to drill in, I
often learn that they have unique strengths that appeal to certain types of organizations in certain
situations. However, they are often reluctant to highlight these strengths for fear of missing

In a crowded, noisy market such as sales performance improvement, your best odds of survival and
success is to discover your niche and dominate.

For example, I see dozens of “CRM for SMB’s” in the market, all trying to fish for minnows in the ocean.
It is hard work and a lot of money to land a few seat licenses. Conversely, a company like Veeva is a CRM
focused exclusively on companies in the life sciences industry. They are focused on their niche and
extremely successful as a result. There are too many choices and too much competition to claim to be all
things to all people.

To discover your niche, ask yourself and your team these key questions. More importantly, ask your
customers too. If you don’t do comprehensive win-loss reviews, now is the time to start. The answers
will help you identify areas on which to focus; these will ultimately bring you closer to your niche:

  1. What leads customers to realize a need for what you sell? Go beyond the superficial to learn
    what was really happening in their organization when they finally decided to source providers
    and make an investment. Was the investment connected to other strategic initiatives, or was it
    truly a point solution to a point problem?
  2. How did the customer source providers? This is very important to know because it can really
    help you focus your demand generation investment and reduce wasted money and effort. Who
    in the customer organization did the sourcing, who did they consider, and how did they find
    them? If your customers are swimming in a pond, then there is no need to fish in the ocean.
  3. Who was involved in the decision making process? Who in the customer organization decided
    that the initiative to investigate a potential solution to a problem was now a priority? Who else
    was involved in that decision, and were there any detractors? Who had the most influence?
  4. Why do customers ultimately choose you over your competitors? Customers usually go through
    great lengths to identify potential providers and choose the best. They are an incredible source of
    market and competitive insight, but you need to ask them. There may be something about your
    solution that you don’t realize that works well in certain situations.
  5. What trends and commonalities emerge? You are winning business, you will see common
    reasons. What are the unique strengths that your customers perceive and why are they so
    important?  What sets you apart from the crowd of similar offerings? Distinguish and highlight
    these differentiators.

Once you identify trends and commonalities, you can then leverage this information to build on your
strengths and sharpen your focus in select niche markets. Then, you can focus your marketing and
demand generation investments more precisely.

As I mentioned earlier, if you will be at Dreamforce, please drop me an email
( or a text (267.265.7150) and we can try to connect live at the event. If
you need help finding or positioning yourself in a niche, then let’s schedule a time to discuss.

Dario Priolo

Dario is the CEO and Founder of J.K. Research. He brings over 20 years of marketing leadership experience in the human capital and sales enablement industries.

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