Dan Debow, senior vice president of emerging technologies at Salesforce.com, says having a vision for your company is the key to growing a successful business. Yesterday, Dan gave a talk at the MaRS Mornings breakfast speaker series about his journey as an entrepreneur and how to use your company vision to sell your product.

Vision, he says, is a simple, inspiring story about the future. He shared the example of how Salesforce sold its vision to customers. The company, which provides customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, didn’t sell itself as a software company. Its positioning was simple: “The future is a future with no software. Here’s how we can help you not have to deal with it.”

Dan Debow speaks at MaRS Mornings
At MaRS Mornings, Dan Debow talks about how Salesforce’s founder sold the company vision to customers.

Dan Debow’s lessons on how to sell your product right

Dan shared several lessons with the audience on how to kill it with vision to sell your product. Here are just a few of the lessons.

  1. Read. Whether you’re a entrepreneurial guru or new on the startup block, launching a business is an intense learning process—why not get some insight from people who have done it before? Some of the books on his essential reading list for startup founders include:
  2. Focus. Many entrepreneurs veer their company off course, tackling too many different customer segments and solutions. As your company grows and gains momentum, turn down people who may move your efforts away from your core product.
  3. Position & iterate. Positioning is not what you do to a product. It is what you do to the mind of the prospect. As the co-founder of Rypple, a performance review social media site that was acquired by Salesforce.com in 2012, Dan strayed away from calling it a performance review company. Instead, Rypple positioned itself as way to offer feedback to employees. Remember that you must iterate your positioning as your company grows. Ask your customers, “How would you describe this product to other people?” Listen to what they say to find positioning that might resonate better.
  4. Controversy is OK. Controversy gets people talking and leads to action. Bringing disruption to a market means you will be controversial with new audiences. Don’t shy away from it.
  5. Be helpful. While controversy can be advantageous, you shouldn’t insult other people’s product. Don’t go around saying that the old ways people did things was wrong; instead, create a “bridge to the future.” Be a helpful expert. “What you did before made sense but here is where the world is going, and here is how my product can help.”

If you missed Dan’s talk, follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #MaRSMornings.

Join us at the next MaRS Mornings

At the next MaRS Mornings on April 8, we will hear from Paul Teshima, co-founder and CEO of Nudge. Prior to Nudge, Paul was part of the executive team at Eloqua. Learn key lessons that kept Eloqua alive and growing for over 13 years, through two economic crises, a $100-million patent lawsuit, and led to its eventual acquisition by Oracle for $957 million in 2012. The event is free but registration is required. Register today!

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Jelena Djurkic

Jelena Djurkic was the Senior Associate, Content Marketing at MaRS. Follow her on Twitter @jdjurkic. See more…