XWiki SAS isn't a big company. We're a team of about 30 committed and motivated individuals working together to bring our Open-Source enterprise wiki solution to market.
About 6 months ago, we moved one of marketing guys to sales. We hoped he would be able to help us move early leads faster along the sales cycle and increase our overall sales volume. Unfortunately, things did not go as well as expected. He did have calls with many potential customers, but often came back with a complaint: they're already running Sharepoint.
Some context here: in the collaboration tools arena, Sharepoint is the current scarecrow. Pretty much every other solution provider either competes or integrates with it. Huddle has a whole section of their website explaining why their solution is better . Atlassian has built a Sharepoint connector for Confluence . Alfresco implemented the Sharepoint protocol as part of their product. Pretty much every provider positions itself in relation to Sharepoint.Take our example: XWiki software has many, many differentiating factors that separate it from Sharepoint. Its pricing is different, its distribution model is different, the way we build apps on top of the plateform is different, the features are different. We have several customers who are using both Sharepoint and XWiki to meet different needs. Yet our guy wasn't convinced (he ended up leaving the company).
Here's what happened. Giants have money. They have impressive, online demos, armies of pre-sales people and entrenched positions in lots of accounts. They can seemingly address all of the use cases any company could ever meet - and then more. They're going to try and make you feel inadequate every step of the way. Going against giants takes a special kind of mindset.
First, you have to believe in your product. You have to be fully convinced of the value it can bring to users that bigger, larger, feature-richer solution cannot bring. To compete with giants, you have to be willing to go places they won't go. You have to be patient and tenacious. You have to exploit their mistakes. You have to be aware of your differences and how they make you stronger. You have to look for the use cases potential users express that you know are going to be better suited by your solution than by the larger one.
In a way, it's a bit like playing Rafael Nadal at Roland-Garros. You know it's going to be a tough, long-winded fight that you're likely to lose. You'll have to run a lot and he's going to counter most of your shots. You'll have to manage amazing returns and stay at the top of your game for hours straight. Last but not least, you have to love the fight in and for itself. To give it your best so that when you get off the court, whether you won or not, you know you gave it all you had.
To go fight with giants, you have to start by believing in yourself. If Robin Soderling could do it, why can't you?
Posted 10 months ago