Participation Pays Off

blog

blog

I met the guy who started this blog at a conference a few years back.   He was there to casually make contacts with CIOs and those in the tech industry.    He sponsored a dinner by getting a few friends together and asking them to bring a few friends.   I was a friend-of-a-friend.   At the time, and throughout dinner, I wasn’t sure who was sponsoring it but I enjoyed the discussion and the food.  At some point he started a discussion about the Blog and then, a month or so later, after we had a relationship established, he started a discussion about his business.  Not only am I now a contributor to his Blog, but like that famous commercial says, I’m also a customer of his company !

 

So why don’t more people get involved, participate, and build real relationships?    I don’t know!    The alternatives really stink.

 

Alternative #1 Cold Calls:  My telephone rings all day.   Nearly every one of those calls is someone cold-calling me to make sure I’m aware of their services, to offer that they are available to contribute to my most important initiatives (that they are dying to learn of), or to suggest that I’d be doing my employer a disservice if I didn’t return their call today.    Get real, folks.

Alternative #2 SPAM E-Mail:  My inbox similarly overflows.   No, I don’t have “10 minutes” to chat with you.  Talk about “wham-bam”!    When I delete all the cold-call e-mails, I’m down to just a few meaningful e-mails each day.  Busy executives must focus their time and energy.   Stop wasting ours.

But alas, there is a mutually supportive alternative:

There are plenty of opportunities for those in the generally-described vendor community to get involved in the tech community, support it, and build real relationships.   The money spent on the constant barrage of phone calls and the ridiculous e-mails can be redirected toward meaningful industry participation.  That’s getting out and doing things, contributing, meeting people and building relationships.  From sponsoring an event to buying a table at a fund-raiser, speaking at an event to share your insights, creating a peer networking opportunity (that doesn’t require someone to sit through a sales pitch), connecting acquaintances and friends over a casual dinner (that doesn’t involve a sales pitch), all of these and more are available to you.   Take the opportunity to do it.

The blog guy (who is now a good friend) doesn’t only hold a dinner at a conference, he is involved throughout the community.   We do many such things together because we both see the value in involvement and contribution to the industry.   Who do I call and promote internally within my company, when we have a need? Yep.  Him.  Why?  Not because he’s a back-slapping buddy, but because he’s built a solid relationship, contributes to the community, and actually has a good track record in his professional space.

Similar relationships are there for the making – just get involved!

 

 

by Mr. CIO On-Point
Mr. CIO OnPoint currently serves as a CIO in the technology industry.   OnPoint comes from a long IT background, starting in end-user support and advancing through infrastructure, application, and consulting roles to CIO and cross-functional executive leadership.  OnPoint has served in companies of all sizes in a range of industries.  OnPoint is active in IT industry organizations, contributing thought leadership in the IT profession, advising emerging companies, and offering his expertise to support emerging IT leaders and youth pursuing careers in IT.  After being frustrated for years with ineffective sales approaches, OnPoint contributes case studies here to help salespeople be more effective at approaching CIO’s in a way that allows them to make their value proposition clear and start  meaningful mutually-beneficial relationships.    He also provides examples of what not to do.   Unfortunately these examples happen way too often.

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What are You Doing Today?

sellingtothecio-sales-goals

sellingtothecio-sales-goals

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Unsolicited Emails To CIO’s

email

Hi there everyone.

Unsolicited Emails(1)

I had two visits with CIO’s today and asked them both about receiving unsolicited emails.  You can imagine the response…  Don’t do it!!!!!

CIO’s of larger IT shops get 10-20 unsolicited emails and phone calls everyday.  I have one CIO that actually forwards me the emails and voicemails every night.  Some of them are pretty funny but most them are canned comments that CIO’sand IT Leaders send to trash immediately.

Get creative… think outside the box..  send a hand written note in a fed ex envelope.  Send something they can touch or feel.  You will have better luck.

Please share you strategies for success with all of us..

Good Selling!

David

follow me on twitter @sellingtothecio

 

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The Invasion

The Invasion (take this to your leader!)

Today, we will give the sales team a much-needed break from being the usual target (relax, enjoy!) and talk about managing the full team in an enterprise contract bidding and RFP process.  Let’s set the scene: I have had a heavy focus recently on creating scale and flexibility for our company.  To that end, we have bid out our core infrastructure, including cloud and managed services for that platform.  Our objective is to partner (important word) with a company that can help expand our business capacity with a better platform.

The front line sales rep (let’s call him Joe) is someone with whom I have a long relationship, but his company recently was acquired by another.  The good news is that it gives Joe an expanded arsenal of products and capabilities.  The bad news is that it brings a new company president who just eliminated Joe’s company from the bid with one phone call.  Read that again… Salesman Joe brought in the opportunity by building trust and a relationship with me… and the company President just lost it in under 15 minutes.

The President (let’s call him Dan) of company swooped into the evaluation & demo process (we were down to 4 finalist companies and they were making final presentations) and made several major blunders that lost his company the deal:

  1. Dan called me and emailed me demanding a lunch or dinner meeting that week that worked with his “very busy” schedule (not mine). Instead, I warily scheduled a call for a time that fit my schedule better.  I liked their bid and really wanted to see deeper into the newly changed company.
  2. When we finally had that call, Dan had clearly not prepped with Joe.  Dan launched right into the elevator speech. He then steamrolled along with a vision of how I would outsource my entire team to him within 18 months.  He wrapped the monologue by explaining how I should be honored to be on their platform.
  3. Dan clearly explained to me how any vision different from his own was career suicide for me or anyone in my position (thankfully, he was here to help me keep my job).  Dan also offered, unsolicited, to provide references within our shared network that would verify his vision.  He offered to have his assistant schedule the deal closing and signing dinner for the next week.  Dan explained that he was “very busy,” bid me good day and hung up.
  4. Still stunned from the call, I got immediate emails from Dan introducing me to the references I never asked for.
  5. Dan never asked me a real question during the call; he never checked to see what my goal or vision was (even though the RFP clearly stated it and we had been talking with Joe for 2 months about the project).  I was grateful that I did not have to spend a full lunch or dinner listening to this pompous windbag.

I felt invaded; it was clearly about him and not about my company or need.  Our peaceful RFP process had just been set ablaze by the leader of one of the parties.  I eliminated the company from the RFP almost immediately.  It was actually sad to explain to my friend Joe that he did not lose on price or product (they were very strong in both actually); he lost because I never want to talk to his company president again.

Assuming you saw the inherent problems with the contact with Dan, the lesson is the importance of having everyone in your company on the same page and to have everyone focused on the customer.  Know your prospect and have all key people be prepared for all interactions.  Meanwhile, don’t let your company leadership invade during a peaceful negotiation!

I can’t entirely blame Joe for this one, his acquiring leadership failed him spectacularly and I suspect Joe will move on to a better company soon.   Take this to your leader and tell him or her that they are an important part of the sales process and that they should follow your lead!

 

By Mr. CMIO

Mr. CMIO is a 20 year veteran in IT who has done almost every role in applications, infrastructure, and management.   Most of his adult working life has been in the financial services industry where he does constant battle to keep regulators and auditors from making things harder and worse.  After dealing with regulators and auditors, sales people don’t scare him and he’d really like them to actually help him.

Mr. CMIO has twice created the CIO role for public companies and is known as a mentor and coach who has developed other senior IT executives.  He is active in industry and community organizations developing the next generation of leaders.   In the last 5 years, he has taken on the additional roles of running business process improvement, new business launches, and chief marketing officer (CMO).  He is part of the new breed of cross-functional IT executive.  Don’t try to trick him or go around him, it only makes you look bad and he tells his friends about you.  Work with him and he will work with you.

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Think About This When Leaving a Message

dont bother

Remember, You are not the only message I hearEvery week I get the same wonderful offer from vendors, an opportunity to learn. This week, as like every other week I had a dozen or so vendors leave me these generous messages. Some on voicemail, some on email and 90% of you leave a message in both places, with a second message letting me know that you left me a message in the first place.

Every one of these offers go like this:
“We would like come out and and hear about what initiatives you have going on? Learn about what you are working on, what are your top priorities? and figure out how we can help you.”

Ohhhh… This knowledge is for the vendor! And it includes the free opportunity for me to take my time to inform you, so you can then tell me how you can solve all of my problems. If I spent all my time doing this, that is all that I would ever do. These requests are all ignored. The only sessions that I’ll ever consider come as direct referrals from someone I know and respect.

Regards,

Mr.CIOTalks

As a CIO for 15+ years in both public and not for profit firms, some with a global focus and others with a national reach, I am an IT executive with strong business acumen who likes to engage actively in solving business problems.  I believe that we should tap our understanding of technology, and the data which underpins the business processes, and use that knowledge to create an exceptional customer experience which helps the company continue to improve its products and services.  Human capital management is a critical component of strong leadership and I am a proven leader who recruits and develops strong teams which work collaboratively across the entire value chain of the business.

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Do What You Must to get to the CIO

sales meeting
sales meeting
At the office yesterday, a letter had been placed on my desk, nicely removed from it’s envelope by my assistant.
Everything on the envelope was handwritten, including the return address. It was all in a smooth flowing cursive; reminding me of my primary school teachers and looking like a personal letter that only my mother would still send.
Ok, now I am intrigued. why is this letter on my desk? It must be something important enough that it passed the screening test of my assistant and it she placed it there directly in my flight path to intentionally earn a moment of my time and attention. My assistant serves as a tremendous filtering gate, removing a vast number of sales attacks from every reaching me. (I’ll share some stories in the future about how aggressive, rude, and downright nasty so many of those business development people are to her.)

So, I next scanned the letter, a typed one and it was immediately identifiable as a sales letter; done as a basic mail merge with my name and company inserted at predictable spots, and hand signed by Karen L. Since this letter was clearly intended for a sales purpose, my state of intrigue transitioned to becoming immediately baffled. Why was this letter even on my desk and not already in the recycle bin? I then read the first line and there it was…a simple reason why it was on my desk – it was the opening sentence. It stated “I wanted to thank you for accepting my friendship on LinkedIn and very much appreciate your response to my email.”
That sentence showed just enough evidence that my assistant concluded that Karen and I had an established relationship, although she did  pause to reflect on the validity, she decided to pass the letter on for my viewing; after all Karen clearly expressed the interactions that solidified our pre-existing relationship.

There was just one flaw in the stream of success that Karen had achieved so far in her business development journey to get to this particular CIO. It was in that opening statement that she wrote in her letter with her company letterhead adorning the top left corner – it turns out there was not a shred of truth to any of it. I was not connected to Karen on LinkedIn (for a “friendship” – what on earth?) nor had I ever exchanged email correspondence with her.
Well done Karen! You and your employer, trying to create business opportunities out of thin air got to the desk of the CIO! Bravo!
Karen what you and employer don’t realize is that you have done irreparable damage to yourself, your company, it’s other employees, and it’s investors. Your brand arrived at my desk and captured that so desired moment of my attention based on a foundation of trickery and lying. Your very first move to begin a relationship destroyed the opportunity to ever establish credibility. For me to do business with you, you ultimately need me to trust you, your company and the product offering. Credibility must be built to such a degree that am willing to take a business and professional risk on your organization to invest in your offering for use inside my enterprise, where I am accountable for performance and quality.

Karen, your letter and method have made it easy for me to make a business decision, so thank you. You have been permanently written off and I will never consider business with you or your employer. You have demonstrated everything I need to know to make a decision from your elegantly addressed form letter. You have no integrity, you have no ethics. You can also let your CEO that I’ll be sure to share my experiences with you and your company at CIO gatherings, as we enjoy trading insights about vendors.

Mr.CIO Talks
Mr. CIO Talks has spent the last 20+ years working with information technology. He has been a start-up entrepreneur; worked in a consulting and sales capacity, led IT organizations, along with other responsibilities in addition to CIO. He has held IT leadership responsibility across several industries and in global geographies. He has served in an executive officer role in both times of market growth and contraction. He has served on the boards of several organizations, from board chair to committee chair, to board member; from the publicly traded firm to the not-for-profit, to government appointed. He currently spends his time as a CIO,  board member,  volunteer, and an advisor.
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Finding Some Common Ground

David_Silverstein

We have all been there… Stuck on sales call that is going downhill fast.. Your services are not a fit and you are squirming in your seat to find some common ground.. It happens.

Usually I do my research and find out something about the person, I pride myself on being able to carry out a conversation with anyone. This time I was in trouble.. No info, No research, No personality across the table. NO PROBLEM! Out of the corner of my eye I see a college stuffed animal that represented a college near where I grew up.. Finally a connection and the sales call is salvaged.

In this day in age we should never be unprepared in these situations. There are so many avenues to find out information ie. Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn etc. Let’s use these tools and even if our products and services are not a fit at least we can talk about how our 14 year old daughters drive us insane..

Good Selling.
David on Finding Some Common Ground

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Talking about Telling The Truth

Selling to The CIO

Selling to The CIOMy inbox was recently graced with a well written cold pitch for a technology product that actually looked interesting to me so I gave it a full read.  This following line and its subtle peer pressure will sound all too familiar.

“Our current clients include Company A, Company B, Company C, Company D, and Company E in your industry.”

Despite my sometimes socially limiting career in IT and what the writer apparently hoped, I know my CIO counterparts at 3 of the companies.  I forwarded the email to each of them to ask the simple question: “Is this product and vendor worth my time to follow up?”  A positive answer would have likely led to a phone call or email to the company.  The unfortunate response:  not one of my peers had ever heard of the product or vendor.  They never got the call from me and my email just poisoned the water for them with my three peers.

A while back, I was in a meeting with a vendor who presented the required slide with a dazzling eye chart of client logos.  One small one nestled in the corner caught my eye.  It was a small company I had cofounded and where I remain an active board member.   I would have known (and been surprised) if they were a client of this vendor.  They were not and now they never will be.

Would you sign a contract with somebody who started lying at the first meeting?  No trust, no sale.   Don’t assume that I don’t have a network and won’t check your client list myself.  Your networking can work either for or against you and you will reap what you sow. It is OK to be small or a startup or to conservatively state your client list.  Every company was once a startup and once had a small book of business.  Own your reality, state ‘facts’ like client lists that are real, and show me your value.  It’s not that hard to make sure the network works for you and not against you.

Mr. CMIO is Talking about Telling the Truth

Mr. CMIO is a 20 year veteran in IT who has done almost every role in applications, infrastructure, and management.   Most of his adult working life has been in the financial services industry where he does constant battle to keep regulators and auditors from making things harder and worse.  After dealing with regulators and auditors, sales people don’t scare him and he’d really like them to actually help him.

Mr. CMIO has twice created the CIO role for public companies and is known as a mentor and coach who has developed other senior IT executives.  He is active in industry and community organizations developing the next generation of leaders.   In the last 5 years, he has taken on the additional roles of running business process improvement, new business launches, and chief marketing officer (CMO).  He is part of the new breed of cross-functional IT executive.  Don’t try to trick him or go around him, it only makes you look bad and he tells his friends about you.  Work with him and he will work with you.

 

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The Purchasing Folks

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group of business peopleLesson Learned

We as sales people need to understand that we are not only selling to the CIO or IT today, but in many companies and organizations we are selling to purchasing.  The world has changed and purchasing good or bad pulls the purse strings.  Has this happened to you?

Long sales cycle, lots of meeting and demo’s and finally your champion or even the CIO says, you are the vendor of choice, you have won the technical battle.  All good and very important win, but now comes the cost negotiation.  So you enter into discussions on cost in good faith with your IT contacts.  No reason to think these negotiations will not get you to a final contract and agreed upon price, right?  Well may not.  “OK now you have to go meet with Bob in purchasing”.  No problem this where the contract get signed.  Except Bob needs his pound of flesh because that’s what purchasing does and oh by the way he needs to know why IT needs the flux capacitor and the fetzer valve.  You think; did we just start the sales cycle all over again?

So what happens; your sale gets slowed down, you probably end up giving additional discounts that may require additional approvals within your organization and you end up having to explain your solution or service and value to their company all over again.  And in most cases this process will have a time suck on your champion in IT as well.

So how do you avoid this situation?
Lesson Learned…… Ask what role purchasing will play in the sales cycle up front.  If you need to have them attend meetings during the sales cycle and have them fully involved in the price negotiations with your contacts from IT.  This also ensures that IT and purchasing are on the page.

We are in changing world, funds seem to be tight everywhere and purchasing plays a greater role in the selling process today, at least that is my experience lately.

My 2 cents……

by Another Sales Guy

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Respect the CIO….

respect

Are you kidding me?

How would you seek to do business with the CEO? Would you have a different approach for the CEO of one million dollar per year firm, how about for a start-up, versus a 100 million dollar one, versus 500 million plus? How about one billion and up?

In any of these cases, would you consider calling the CEO’s office and leaving a message on voicemail that you will be “in the area” and want to stop by to introduce yourself?

Perhaps instead you would have an inside sales rep or call on behalf of “person X, our vice president” or “director” and state that they “are going to be in your area next Tuesday and would like to stop by for a few minutes to discuss our offering.”

Of course not. It is a ridiculous approach. So why on earth do you do this with CIOs?

This is a technique that is reminiscent of the copier salesperson in the 1980s. I suspect this was probably once taught as an official approach by one copier pioneer and migrated to other organizations.

Do you really see this as a model that will work for the CIO? What if you stratified organizations in the same way that I noted above, would you use the same tactic for every one? This approach demonstrates a real ignorance, a lack of any sophistication into understanding the operations of your prospect organization.

There are so many things that are fundamentally wrong with this approach and for know, I’ll express that it shows that you do not understand how others use their time. This is a very immature approach and it does not even factor in the concept of decision structures and entry points, which I’ll tackle in future blogs.

Every single day, in the pursuit of sales, there is an assault on me by 25-30 organizations. These messages, if thought to be polite, targeted approaches to the top of the IT food chain are instead futile.

This particular message was left at my office this week. (with names and numbers changed to protect the guilty).

Not only is this the wrong approach, in hearing the message it was obvious that is was scripted and the person reading the script had poor delivery, simply by the fact that his word flow did not match any natural speaking pace, with pauses and starts lining up more with the carriage return than they did with the intended message and sentence structure.

Here is the message translated to text:

“Hello, this is Chip S. form ABC Consulting. We are an IT staffing and consulting company and I was going to be in your area next Tuesday and Thursday and wanted to know if I can stop by and introduce myself and see what possible needs you may have in the coming month. Please give me a call when you have the opportunity. 555-1212 extension 270, 555-1212 extension 270. Thanks in advance for your time.”

Chip did not receive a call back.

-Mr. CIO Talks
Mr. CIO Talks has spent the last 20+ years working with information technology. He has been a start-up entrepreneur; worked in a consulting and sales capacity, led IT organizations, along with other responsibilities in addition to CIO. He has held IT leadership responsibility across several industries and in global geographies. He has served in an executive officer role in both times of market growth and contraction. He has served on the boards of several organizations, from board chair to committee chair, to board member; from the publicly traded firm to the not-for-profit, to government appointed. He currently spends his time as a CIO,  board member,  volunteer, and an advisor.

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