Updated: Dec 17, 2021
The Salesforce ecosystem is growing at a rapid pace and shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. In 2019, global research firm IDC forecasted that the Salesforce ecosystem will create $1.2 Trillion in new business revenue between 2019 and 2024. During Dreamforce this year, that number was updated to $1.6 Trillion.
For Salesforce consulting partners like you, the good news is that continued ecosystem growth represents a huge opportunity to expand your business. There are plenty of customers who need your expertise to implement, integrate, and optimize the use of Salesforce in their businesses.
The bad news is that there’s a lot of competition for those customers. There are over 1800 Salesforce consulting partners currently listed on the App Exchange, with more being added all the time.
That’s quite a crowd, but, with smart positioning, you can attract your ideal customers and find space to grow in the Salesforce ecosystem. In this edition of the bloomly blog, we’ll explore what exactly positioning is and how getting it right is essential for your ecosystem success.
What is positioning?
Positioning is one of those terms that gets thrown around a lot in marketing circles. Everyone says it’s important, but few people ever bother to explain what it is and how you should do it. We’re about to change that.
First, let’s cover what positioning is not. Positioning is not storytelling or messaging or communicating your “why.” All of those things are important, but they come after you’ve put down some roots with strong positioning.
Positioning expert April Dunford defines positioning this way:
“Positioning defines how your product is a leader at delivering something that a well-defined set of customers cares a lot about.”
From the perspective of a Salesforce consulting partner, we would put it like this:
“Positioning defines how you are a leader at helping a well-defined set of customers successfully implement, integrate, and use Salesforce to achieve tangible digital transformation goals.”
Positioning helps you understand your true competition, identify the unique value you provide, define your ideal customer, and find your niche in the ecosystem. Your positioning shapes your marketing and sales operations, including how and what you communicate to both Salesforce and potential customers. It includes both the process you go through to define your position and the marketing and sales approach you implement.
How do I figure out my positioning?
Now that we’ve covered what positioning is, let’s talk about how to define a strong position as a Salesforce consulting partner. There are six key steps to good positioning in the Salesforce ecosystem, each of which builds on the one before it.
Identify your competition.
The best way to identify your competition is to ask yourself what potential customers would do if you didn’t exist. You may not have narrowly defined your ideal customer yet, but you should have a broad idea of your potential customer base and the problems they’re trying to solve.
In some cases, the answer is nothing because they would stick to business as usual and never implement Salesforce at all. Other businesses might turn to a different software solution or to a competing Salesforce partner. You should identify which solutions and which Salesforce consultants offer realistic competitive alternatives to your services.
Highlight your unique capabilities.
The next step is to differentiate yourself from your competition. What makes your business unique? What capabilities or features do you offer that your competition doesn’t? This could be a service you offer or expertise in a particular industry or innovative ways to use a certain Salesforce or partner ISV product. Don’t forget to think through what differentiates you from the “do nothing” and alternative software competitive options.
Define the value you offer.
Now it’s time to think about value. What value do your unique capabilities provide? Does your Salesforce consulting business enable your customers to do things they’ve never done before? Maybe your service saves time and money or increases sales or provides uniquely valuable insights. Think of this as defining the benefits your customers get by choosing to work with you over all their other options.
Figure out who really needs you.
Your unique capabilities and value may appeal to a wide range of customers, but there’s a smaller subset who will really be excited by what you offer. Those are the customers this step is designed to help you find. Think about who really needs your services. Consider factors like industry, company size, and specialty.
For example, let’s say you have deep expertise and offer innovative solutions for how to use the Health cloud. Your services could benefit any medical provider, but figuring out your positioning may lead you to understand that what you offer is a real game-changer for the independent emergency medicine clinics popping up all over American suburbs.
Identifying and understanding your ideal customer is one of the most important parts of positioning, so spend as much time as you need to get this step right.
Find your niche in the ecosystem.
Based on the work you’ve done so far, you’re ready to find your place in the Salesforce ecosystem. All the previous steps in the positioning process lead to this point.
Your niche is the place you put down roots in the ecosystem. It’s the space in which you know you can win because you understand the existing solutions, have unique capabilities that provide distinct value, and can pinpoint your target customers.