The Positioning Play is the second play of the Case Open Routine. The purpose of the positioning play is to stake a claim, establish the role of the sales person, and help the sales person to occupy a desired location.
There are two main principles associated with staking a claim. First, if you don’t claim a position, you will never own it. Second, if your claim goes uncontested, you win. In the marketplace of products and ideas sales people drive the stakes that claim territories and mark positions. If a sales person does not verbalize his product claim, potential customers or competitors do not acknowledge it, no customer list is developed, no territories are established, and no revenue stream is created. If a sales person does not claim a position he will never own it.
This principle can be illustrated by using an example of market position. Think about dandruff shampoo. What is the first brand that comes to mind? Usually the leading answer in this exercise is Head and Shoulders.
No one simply granted this market position to Head and Shoulders. Rather, Procter and Gamble, the makers of Head and Shoulders, staked their claim as the dandruff shampoo by investing millions of advertising dollars to claim the efficacy of their product in the fight against embarrassing skin flakes. As a result of the investment, Procter and Gamble no longer has to dominate the air waves with their message, they only invest enough to maintain the position they claimed.
The second principle is related to the first; if your claim goes uncontested, you win. In the case of explorers, settlers and miners, once the stake had been driven and the claim had been made, contests for the claim had to be answered. If an explorer claimed a territory in the name of his sovereign only to find that a previous claim existed, a contest for ownership ensued. When settlers and miners faced the problem of a contested claim, each side argued their case in civil court, where an impartial judge resolved the dispute. But if the claims went uncontested, the rights of ownership were acknowledged and granted.
Similar rules govern claims and rights in sales. When Procter and Gamble planted their stake in the ground with a dandruff shampoo, competing products were not able to effectively combat the claim. As a result, Procter and Gamble secured the leading market position in dandruff shampoos with Head and Shoulders.