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09 Jun 2015

Podio dilemma: why the best digital tool available is such a hard sell

Before I get started, it’s probably best to declare where I stand in regard to Podio. SeeSharp Productions is not a reseller, but we are a certified Podio Partner. That means we don’t get any commission on subscriptions, but we do charge for consulting and implementation when we’re engaged to help a company get Podio up and running.

Once you read what I have to say, you’ll probably be no closer to signing up to use Podio – so it will be pretty clear that I’m not making any money as a salesman!

Now to my emotional position: from the bottom of my heart, I truly believe Citrix Podio is the most game-changing digital tool since Microsoft Excel, in its ability to streamline business and organisation processes in a single digital platform.

I can be quite emphatic about that because it’s not a conclusion we’ve reached lightly. It’s taken a good 24 months of investigations and trials with all of the major project management, CRM and database management products on the market, but we have concluded that Podio is simply the best. And since then we have implemented the system to 17, and counting, companies of various sizes and they happen to be all happy customers.

How so? Podio is a highly-customisable but incredibly simple inter-relatable spreadsheet system, with the capability for users to create any customised workspace or workflow that suits them (and adjust it whenever the need arises), coupled with a Facebook-like social media mechanism for people to collaborate instantly.

The result? Podio replaces all of your offline documents as well as eliminating emails.

So you no longer have to figure out which is the current version of a document, or if everyone is referencing the same one, and there’s no issue with missed or forgotten email attachments or someone not being copied in to a chain or missing part of a conversation.

The beauty of Podio is that it doesn’t require any programming skills. It’s a simple drag-and-drop app builder (basically a glorified spreadsheet system) which allows users to build workflows tailored to them.

If there’s a need for more customised features, Podio’s extremely open API has allowed companies to build various extensions to fill the gaps.

In summary, the idea of Podio is to tick all the boxes of any organisation workflow.

But it’s that very ticking of all the boxes that makes it so hard to sell!

My go-to pitch when I walk into a sales meeting is “Podio allows you to streamline absolutely everything (with enthusiasm) in your business into one single (with enthusiasm) digital platform”.

Even though the statement is true, it doesn’t have as much impact as we would like because unfortunately people are so overwhelmed with marketing messages that “such-and-such is the miracle answer to questions you haven’t even thought of yet” they have become sceptical to the point where a message like this taken lightly – if not with a grain of salt.

A major stumbling block is marketplace perception – or rather lack of it. While Podio is a brilliant product and has had some financial success, it’s yet to claim the sort of profile, popularly or industry dominance that Salesforce, Basecamp, Trello, Zoho, InfusionSoft, Insightly and others have.

Based on product excellence, Podio should be above them all – but we know that’s not the way it works.

The fact that Podio is so flexible means some see it as a digital jack of all trades. That’s what makes the sales process so vulnerable. Say a client is after a CRM, or a Project Management tool, you can’t say that Podio is built specifically for either of those applications.

“It’s built for everything” is a rather weak sales pitch that sounds cheesy, even though it is rock solid true.

This is just another great example of the Branding principle “it’s not about the product”.

That’s why over time we have lost a lot of gigs to SalesForce for CRM, InfusionSoft for Online Marketing, MailChimp for Email Automation, Cliniko for the medical industry, and Xero for accounting.

But ask our tech team (or any Podio Partner around the globe) and you will be assured that we can implement Podio to replicate any of the tools mentioned above.

Because Podio has no true identity as a product, it’s extremely difficult to sell.

If you go onto the official Podio website, the product is being promoted as a Project Management solution. That doesn’t do it justice, nor should the company settle for being seen as just another Project Management tool.

The world needs a truly streamlined system, to replace the multiple windows, apps and documents which usually form something of a maze that makes running an organisation less efficient.

We have one right in front of us but the world doesn’t know about it because of weak branding.

I’m glad Podio was bought by Citrix in 2012 but we’re yet to see the sort of strategies Citrix has employed to make GoToMeeting “the product” in the Webinar category applied to making Podio a dominant brand to a certain category.

Perhaps it’s never going to be the case because this “category” is currently so broadly but vaguely defined, unless Critrix can magnify it in a way to replicate what Google means to Search or Wikipedia means to Knowledge.

Perhaps the fact that Citrix doesn’t know how best to pitch Podio either is a big part of the problem, because on their website, under Products (and they have about 40 now) Podio is described as being “for social collaboration”.

That hardly pitches it at a professional audience at all.

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