This Trick Will Backfire. Watch Out!

email to the CIO

 

Don’t Pull the ‘Email to the CIO’ Trick. It Will Backfire.

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I wanted to share a story that I personally witnessed this week.  I was sitting in a buddy’s office (let’s call him MR. VP for this story) who also happens to be an IT leader at a big company in the Philadelphia area.  They have a substantial IT budget and a variety of technology partners.
I was sitting off to the side in his office when I noticed him reading an email that seemed to get him pretty disturbed.  He immediately picked up the phone and dialed (for this part let’s call him Paul from ABC software company).  Mr. VP immediately started to read him the riot act. “Who do you think you are… going around me to my CIO and telling him I didn’t do my job?  We have purchased millions of dollars of your software in the past.  Pick up the phone and call me directly if you have an issue with the decision.  You are done doing business here.  Goodbye!!”

Evidently, Paul had a proposal on the table and Mr. VP and team had chosen another partner.   Paul, in desperation, sent an email to the CIO letting him know that Mr. VP and his team chose another partner and his team made a mistake costing the company money in the long run.  He also claimed that the playing field wasn’t even because he didn’t get the access he needed along the way.
Listen, all sales veterans have probably been in this situation before.  I know I have.  You believe you have the better solution and the customer didn’t give you the access and time needed to qualify the proper way and propose the right solution.   I personally can’t stand to lose but sometimes there are newer and better technologies out there that will outshine yours.  It’s hard not to take it personally but you must understand that this sales gig is a marathon.  We are going to win some and lose some along the way.  It’s how you handle the situation that prevails in the end.

I have learned this throughout my career.  Rather than sending that email to the CIO who happens to highly respect Mr. VP, call Mr. VP and set up a time to be debriefed about the missed opportunity.  9 times out of 10, MR. CIO and his/her peers will respect your request to go over why they went another direction. Most of them have a heart and will be happy to discuss it with you.  You will get that desired facetime, build credibility and the access you need the next time around.

I must admit, I had a smile on my face when Mr. VP was laying into Paul. It was one less vendor I had to deal with and I knew it would make a great blog………

Good selling.

David

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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 Dual Role CIO; Be Careful What You Say.

hat

Selling to the CIO

I lead both marketing and IT for my company, which is a long story not fit for these pages.  Most sales people in both arenas don’t realize that strange combo can exist.  Depending on which “hat” people think they are calling, I get very different approaches.  Sometimes two reps from the same vendor call separately for each “persona.”

When sales people think they are calling the head of marketing, I usually hear:

* Babble designed to treat me as though I am technophobic and technically  impaired

* How I can cut the IT department mercilessly out of my life

* How bad our web site and mobile strategy is because of those tech guys

* How I want to jump on the cloud, mobile, social media, and analytics trains before I am out of business

When sales people think they are calling the head of IT, I usually hear:

* Marketing jargon designed to treat me as though I am creatively and business impaired

* How I can make the marketing department like me and not cut me out of the company

* How bad our web site and mobile strategy is because of those marketing guys

* How I want to jump on the cloud, mobile, social media, and analytics trains before I am out of business

The common talking points seem to boil down to:

* Prospects are impaired and should be treated as such

* Playing business functions against each other is a winning strategy

* Insulting the prospect’s product/work will inspire an embarrassed rush to sign a contract

* Prospects (being impaired) are too backward to have considered (or even rejected!) all of the current trends

* IT & marketing can’t possibly talk to each other, much less have a common executive managing them

When people find out I hold both jobs, there is an audible squeal of tongues and minds screeching to a halt.   The modern CIO and CMO are increasingly connected and more frequently the same person.  It is time for your sales approach to jump on that train.

When selling to either the CIO or CMO (or really anyone else):

* Treat us like we are smart and capable but that we have a need you might be able to fill.  Speak to us like adults.

* Treat us like we work in a common team that wants to succeed.

* Deliver proof how you are great at providing that mobile/web/other service, not how bad we are.

* Understand that our job is not to adopt fads and trends, but to run a business.  Ask what we know, then educate us if needed.

* Traditional roles are breaking down.  Assume that we share information and may even share roles that will surprise you.

Don’t babble or insult or divide.  You will enjoy smart conversations and more business when working with adults instead of the infighting kids you sometimes make us out to be.  

Happy Selling.

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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Connecting, Or Not, With Other CIO’s

CIO

 

CIO

The CIO in name only?

A new approach is emerging from organizations offering IT services that is making the role of sales harder for sales professionals and prospects alike.
I recently received 2 separate LinkedIn invitations from CIO level individuals. When an invite is from a peer, I will typically look at it and would connect if we had some shared connections and there was nothing else that seemed odd.
I enjoy having the opportunity to network and learn from my fellow IT leaders. I always find something to learn from everyone and from every circumstance.
One great example occurred for me this week. My organization is replacing a legacy solution and we are considering a few alternatives to the incumbent. I reached out to a colleague in San Francisco who’s company was just named in a press release as having selected one of these alternative vendors that we are considering. My west coast contact arranged to connect my team with the protagonists at her firm that led the selection and contracting process. They were able to provide us their perspective and answer our questions. This alternative reference is a huge value, and can be juxtaposed to the vendor’s officially supplied references. The caveat is that official vendor references typically have some form of an incentive plan in place with the vendor. These plans earn points or credits of some form for the benefit of the reference site in exchange for the time and resources it take to serve as one.
The concern I have is that these LinkedIn invitations I received are from CIOs of IT services organizations. I took the risk of connecting and no sooner after that did their true MO emerge. These individual were not CIOs looking to connect with their peers for the value of having the CIO-CIO connection. Their specific objective was targeted business development. Each of these CIOs appear to be CIO in name only. They each followed up with a sales pitch for their company and expressed the desire to speak with me on the CIO-CIO level. This is an exploitation and I feel it is underhanded. This seems to be a new trend and it makes the entire environment muddy for all of us.
Your thoughts?
Mr. CIOTalks
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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Stop Calling With This Lame Approach

job sucks

superheroesTitle: How much must this job suck? 

“I saw a lot of traffic and interest in our website from your company.  I’m not sure if this is you or someone else at your company, but I wanted to make myself available to answer any questions you have.  I can be reached at 1-800-xxx-xxxx and my name again is Jim.”   

Poor Jim is doing his job.  Like many sales reps, the job sucks.  Smile and Dial.   I wouldn’t want to do it.  So for those of you doing it, my hat is off to your persistence and sheer will to press on.

But to the companies who set this up.  ARE YOU SERIOUS?  Tell me, seriously, is your sales approach to watch the IP addresses and domain names of visitors to your website, and then follow-up with THE CIO of the registered company, fishing to figure out if there’s an opportunity?

What this tells me is that your company is not smart enough to capture names of visitors, to get people to give up some sort of identifying information along the way, and to assess patterns of usage and numbers of unique visitors to use that information to better hone your sales approach and identify actual targets within the company who are likely to be looking at your website.   Hint:  I’m not!

I will never call you back.  So stop calling with this lame approach.

 

Mr. CIO OnPoint
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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Use Your Time Wisely When You Get The Meeting

clock

clock

The Clock Starts Now!

The Situation:  Diligent Salesperson finally gets time with the CIO they’ve been pursuing for months on end.  After trying everything, including emails, phone calls, and  invitations to events, they hit on something that captured CIO’s attention and are now sitting at the same table with them.   What should Diligent do?

Option A – Clock is ticking, and it goes like this:  time’s a wasting and I must get my pitch out there to maximize the revenue potential from this very short time together!    Diligent spends five minutes on pleasantries and then puts forth the always-awkward and over-used line of “let’s talk about your roadmap to identify synergies.”   Conversation dies to a cordial exchange of points and ideas.   If lucky, something interesting comes up, but it’s not guaranteed.

Option B – Clock is ticking, and it goes like this:  this is my first meeting of what I want to be many, so I must establish the basis of a relationship so I will get another meeting!    Diligent spends whatever time it takes to get to know CIO and allow CIO to get to know them.   They identify common interests.    At some point it turns to work and the matters at hand.    The CIO and Diligent casually exchange concepts and ideas around needs and offerings.   The CIO suggests a follow-up meeting to discuss more details with CIO’s team.

Which clock are you listening to?    One clock ticks for the meeting, the other ticks for a lifetime.    You pick it.

 

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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