The Key Is Innovation…..

innovation

Hi Everyone,
I just came back from a 3 day CIO Leadership conference. It was great venue to talk to IT Leadership and find out what is top of mind these days. Well, it was pretty clear. “Innovation” was the word of the day. CIO’s are getting pressure from the business to figure how their departments can come up with new and creative ways to impact the business. This was great information to find out but what do us sales types do with this information?

Well, after polling several of them the consensus was to help them ” Innovate”!!! It’s a great chance for our organizations to step up to the plate and help these folks get creative. They need and want our help… Let’s change the sales strategy a bit and figure out how our products and services can change the game for these folks..

It’s gonna take a lot more than ROI these day’s to land the big one… we gotta get deep in our thoughts…
Please share your thoughts and ideas.

Good Selling…
David

(re-posted and updated from original post in 2013)

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A Must Read For IT Leadership And Sales Reps Alike

Salesperson_Pic_120911-300x237

It’s a bit long but worth the read…

Make no mistake about it: Sales is a Profession.
There, I said it and boy does it feel great!

Throughout the early modern period, only three professions were recognized by society: medicine, law and religion. The criteria for these “learned professions” involved a formal education, extensive training and fees paid for services rendered. I suppose Mary Magdalene, who could rightfully claim two of these requirements, was disappointed to learn her vocation didn’t make the list. Over time, the list was amended to include occupations such as accounting, engineering and nursing, but not sales. Never sales. That’s all about to change….

In 2012, the Harvard Business School (HBS) hosted the inaugural conference on thought leadership in the sales profession. The innovative event combined the involvement of both academicians and sales practitioners for a specific purpose: to give meaningful weight to sales (and sales management) practitioner interests, and actively connect academics to these interests. Genius! Despite what you may think of George W. Bush, Harvard Business School doesn’t produce idiots, nor does it pursue idiotic endeavors.

Mind you, HBS didn’t manufacture the interest of this subject matter, it’s merely responding to the ground swell. Indeed, independent and student lead events on campus that focus on sales and sales management are gaining in popularity. The most notable of this group is the MIT Sloan School of Management Sales Conference, Selling In The New Normal. This conference, a first of its kind, is completely student organized and includes top executives and CEO’s from across the country to conduct keynotes and workshops on cutting-edge sales topics. With respect to the HBS event, the 2014 conference will be held at Columbia University on June 10th and they anticipate a record attendance. For the record, Harvard, MIT and Columbia represent three of the top ten business schools in the country, with Harvard reigning as king of the hill. Without question, this subject matter is gaining mindshare in the right place: progress….

Why is this important to you, Mr(s). CIO?

Higher Education (aka Academia) isn’t doing you any favors by sending graduates to the front lines with such little exposure to sales. A quick scan of the top rated business schools in the USA, including my alma mater, reveals an indifference towards undergraduate sales education. If you’re an aspiring Sales professional, you have to enroll in your respective university as a Marketing major and hope to get one course that addresses Sales. Unfortunately, that one 3-credit course is typically taught by someone who never “carried a bag” and is located in the basement of the building. At the graduate level? Forget about it….

Could our lack of a “formal” education be the reason we’re viewed as hucksters of snake oil and/or used car salesmen? Surely, without the appropriate classroom led instruction in our background, why would we be viewed any different?

This oversight in Academia forces Sales Professionals to earn his / her “diploma” on the Streets, the most unforgiving of environments for an education. During my apprenticeship, I served as both instructor and pupil, sometimes simultaneously and most times unsuccessfully. Unfortunately for my prospective customers during this period, I didn’t know a thing about value-based selling, solving business problems with my product / service, etc… and it showed. This inexperience, I suspect, is the reason CIO’s roll their eyes when Reps enter their office. Sadly, it’s a stench so woven into our fabric I fear we won’t ever be able to rid ourselves of the smell, even after many years of success.

Like my peers at the time I graduated, I had the opportunity to take the cushy desk job making $35k-40k / year, but I took the hard road and bet on myself. Throughout my first few years, I lost more than I won, by a wide margin, and made $19,000 (+/-) for my efforts. Since I didn’t have a base salary, I had to work hard and learn fast, and paid the price if I repeated mistakes. I obtained invaluable insights, experience and wisdom during those early years, and I wouldn’t trade them for any price.

Like Mary Magdalene, Sales folks can rightfully claim most of the established criteria society uses to define “Professionals.” Unlike Mary, we don’t conduct business in the dark of night in an alley or the backseat of a car. Rather, we’re granted a seat at your conference table for a meeting you requested (or accepted). We’re there to listen, and maybe help. If the stars align, we’ll be afforded an opportunity to continue the journey of earning your trust, then your business.

For this reason, like Doctors, Lawyers and Indian Chiefs, as my dad used to say, Sales Representatives should be given due respect as professionals because we earned it. If you, Mr(s). CIO had a meeting with your doctor, would you cancel it at the last minute and/or pull out your iPhone as she was reviewing the results of your latest CT scan? I suspect not. Would you dismiss yourself from the room as your accountant was doing your taxes? Hardly. If I’m on your home turf, sitting at your table, put away your smartphone and clear your calendar. If I’m conducting a presentation, don’t sneak out to “take a call”, even if its for a few minutes. It’s highly offensive, to be sure.

After all, I just traveled 1,500 miles, endured a crying baby on the plane who kept kicking the back of my seat and I’m staying in a hotel room that smells like my Uncle’s corner bar after a night of smoking, drinking and friendly gambling. The fact is, I’m likely in your presence to help solve a problem you and/or one of your colleagues created. I realize I need to earn your trust, but gosh darnit, don’t disrespect me and my time because, like you Mr(s). CIO, I am a Professional!

I may be wrong, but what the heck, I don’t have a formal education in Sales so what do I know?

Good Selling…

-David

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Talking About Company Politics

feathers
Don’t Sweat Politics
Even the most non bureaucratic companies have politics.  Big companies, small companies, it just doesn’t seem to matter does it?  Let’s face it every company has politics and we all have to deal with it one way or another.  They key is to not take it personally.  Yes we all want to do well at work, improve ourselves, grow the company, and more.  Some times you will ruffle a few feathers along the way.  That’s just inevitable and the price of progress.  Remember not everyone may like what you do, but they are entitled to their own opinion.  Just make sure your intentions are aligned with company and/or individual goals and you will never fail even if your idea, approach, concept or product doesn’t work out.  Keep learning, growing and moving forward!
Mr.CTO
Mr. CTO has spent the last 20+ years working with Information Technology and Quality.  He has worked in Fortune 50 companies, mid to small companies and a few startups.  He has led IT organizations, worked as a consultant, and held process/quality guru roles amongst many other responsibilities.  His roles have taken him to 10 countries across multiple industries.   He is a mentor who loves technology and coaching others who can utilize his background and experience.  He especially enjoys being the “translator” of technology to those who don’t grasp complex technology topics.  He has consistently utilized business terminology to gain buy-in and understanding amongst business leaders, executives and colleagues.

 

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Be Like The CIA

cia
Untitled design(42)What’s in a name?
I’m often reflecting on the strategies employed by the sales professional to make contact with the CIO – the bad, the ugly and the downright foolish. I’ve sampled the messages over this prior month for a theme that is an interesting one, the magician’s thin air name grab.
I’ve had received countless numbers of each of the following types of attempts to sell and they lack validity, no pedigree of credibility. They are time wasting, superficial ploys that are ineffectual and deeply naive. Their foolishness reflects a lack of experience and/or a lack of understanding of their target, the CIO, and the context of their offering in the CIO’s universe.
Here is the “Top 5” list:
#5
You are listed as the CIO of “insert the full legal entity name of my employer” ….and not the actual name that everyone refers to in the real world. For example instead of saying “ABC Corp” they state “ABC Corporation of America.”
#4
“Your name was given to me.”
#3
“I came across your name.”
#2
“Your name was referred to me as someone I should speak to.”
And #1
“I saw your name.”
The offenders are rarely prepared to respond when questioned about their opening there statement – such as “who referred you?” These moves make for a sure fire strike out.
I had a history in the field of technology consulting, and if you don’t realize it, the role of the CIO requires a lot of selling. It can mean selling ‘No” to a group stakeholders; that perhaps a project scope change creates a risk somewhere else in the organization. That risk may not be directly relevant to them, but it is to others.  It can mean selling to garner support for an effort that requires an investment of resources at a difficult time; and thus requires me to help others understand the trade offs and the outcomes. The point is – is that each of these efforts requires what I call, “relationship connectivity” and that requires a strategy that fits into context.
My recommendation is to think wisely and approach the goal with the same cognitive processing and mapping that the CIA would use to accomplish a mission goal. If the CIA were seeking information on a target – how might the agency strategize and implement the building of relationships? Likely, they begin with an inventory of known information and start by working indirectly, a and iteratively closer and closer, until ready to directly, and effectively engage with the target.
What is your next move?
Mr. CIO
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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Welcome to Selling To The CIO

David_Silverstein

David_Silverstein

Welcome to Selling To the CIO!

First, I must warn you that I am not a writer, or will I ever claim to be.   I am just a ordinary technology sales guy who has been fortunate enough to establish and maintain some amazing relationships with my customers over the years, many of whom are Technology leaders and CIO’s.

I started this blog to share lessons learned on what works and what doesn’t work when dealing with IT leadership.  I will share with you what twenty years in this business has taught me.
I will also share testimonials and examples of what CIO’s appreciate, and what really bothers them when it comes to dealing with people like us.
Please do not be shy in sharing your thoughts and ideas with me.  This is meant to help all of us in our pursuit of greatness.
Happy Selling!!!
David
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