What do top technology companies have in common? Think about Apple, Cisco, Salesforce.com, IBM, VMware, Riverbed, Workday. What separates market leaders and category creators from the rest of the pack?
They tell powerful stories.
Stories matter. We see it over and over again: Companies that capitalize on an inflection point and grab a leadership position always have a thought-provoking point of view that resonates with buyers. Customers buy into the story before they buy the solution.
And a story is more than a slogan or a catchy tagline. It's offering a different perspective, not just pushing a product. It's a crisp, clear way of communicating how a company or a product will solve a big, hairy problem for customers. It comes from putting the customer's needs and requirements first, not the technology or the company's agenda.
Look at Cisco. The company wasn't founded to sell routers and switches. It started when a husband and wife wanted to email each other from different offices at Stanford and they couldn't. So they created the multiprotocol router and solved the problem. They didn't launch a product—they solved a problem and created a powerful story and different point of view. And they instilled a customer-first, problem-solving culture at Cisco. You know the rest of that story.
Need other examples? Look at game-changing CEOs Marc Benioff, Larry Ellison, Steve Jobs, and Jeff Bezos. They disrupted markets and catapulted their companies into legendary status with conversations that reframed buyers' problems and offered neat solutions. They articulated their company's value in simple, concise positioning stories and narratives that offered a new perspective to buyers.
So if a great story is the key to success, why doesn't every technology company have one? The reason is simple.
All too often, the responsibility for positioning is taken on by tech CEOs or product managers who are in love with their technology. And technology moves to the forefront of the story. Wrong. Buyers don't care what's cool about your technology or your intellectual property (IP). They care what it does for them.