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How to Compete on Content


By Christopher Willis

Rob DeRobertis Situation

The Company is a venture-funded software provider offering enterprise customers' sales staff access to data through a secure and intuitive interface. Starting its life as a "point (single application) solution" provider, the Company captured over 50% of its target market within the first three years of operation. And because of our vertical focus, the Company was able to charge a premium, first as a sole provider, and then continuing as the leader in the space. As positive as these early returns appeared, the target financial services market encompasses 7000 sales people in total. Continued growth in this area was limited if we did not aggressively enhance our solution set.

Industry Focus
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Originally we decided to serve one vertical, and to serve it well, providing best-of-breed technology designed and built by financial industry experts. This was our key differentiator. The Company led with an "industry focus" message, picking up new customers and experiencing growth and sales success.

After 5 years building the market, competitors from the wider, horizontal technology supply base made moves to enter the financial services market with a low cost package. Sales opportunities became competitive where they had not been in the past. The Company's message of "industry focus" was being heard, but the competitors' message of technology and low cost was also being heard. The subsequent pressure on the Company drove pricing discussions, and made deals more difficult to win. We realized that we needed an introspective look at the messaging and the way the Company differentiated itself in the market.