Respect the CIO….

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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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What Part of “No” Don’t You Understand

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The same telecom audit vendor has been calling almost hourly and emailing nearly as frequently for weeks with promises to save me 250% of my monthly phone and data bills.  Calls persist despite email requests to cease and desist, attempted un-subscriptions from the mailing list, and my admin getting flat-out rude about it.  It’s a different rep almost every time but the pitch is nearly the same.

I decided to finally answer the phone myself in a last-ditch effort to eliminate this stonewalling cockroach of a company.  The rep kicked into his pitch and I stopped him cold with a demand to cease this unprofessional and unethical assault on our phone and email systems.  I also threatened to block their phone number and email domain if it continues (ah, the perks of being CIO!).  He proceeded to tell me that the only way I can get off their contact list is by having an in person meeting with their CEO and my CFO.

I nearly broke the phone hanging up.  And yes, I blocked their phone number and email domain.  It turns out that my CIO peers knew exactly who I was talking about when I told them my story and I never had to mention the company name.

So, what part of “no” don’t they understand?  Rotating reps, multiple calls and emails a day, and refusal to respect my request only anger me and will never result in business.  This is every bad sales stereotype coming to life and makes legitimate sales people look bad.  If we all despise your tactics, no wonder you have to work so hard to gain business.  Even my kids know when to stop asking.

Let’s try the basics again in 2016:  relationship, respect, trust.  “No” means “no”.  And eat your vegetables.

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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Use Courtesy. It Matters.

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helloCourtesy.   It Ain’t Old School.   It’s the Only School.

It’s often lamented that courtesy is becoming a relic of bygone days.  Courtesy used to show up many places, from always responding to invitations with an RSVP (well before the due date) to deferring to your date’s preferences, holding doors open and, the ever famous, reaching over to unlock your date’s door after they let you in your side (“old timers”, you know exactly what I’m talking about).   The courtesy you display says a lot about you.   And, people judge others by the courtesy they display, just like many gals would think twice about the guy who didn’t open their door and guys would think twice when their date failed to reach over to unlock their driver’s door.   Simple gestures that show respect and courtesy for others go a long way.  Whether courtesy is fading in society or not, it still matters in business relationships and sometimes it matters A LOT.   Courtesy can also save a bad situation and help you get another at-bat.    But, forget courtesy and all bets are off.  Lucky Rep, who scored a lunch meeting with me, became Unlucky Rep in just twenty minutes through not displaying common courtesy.    Please don’t do this yourself!

I showed up at the appointed time, on time, and waited at the hostess desk. When she asked, I let the hostess know I was meeting a party of two, as I knew Lucky was bringing a colleague along. Five minutes go by. Ten minutes go by. No sign of Lucky. I e-mail Lucky: “Are we meeting today? I’m at the hostess desk.” No response. At the fifteen-minute mark, I dig up an e-mail from Lucky and spot a mobile number in the signature block. I call it. No answer.

By this time I figured Lucky had something pop up and so I rushed to fetch some quick take-out to eat at the office before my next meeting. I e-mailed Lucky while waiting for my take-out, explaining that I had waited 15 minutes, had emailed and called, and finally moved on to honor the rest of my commitments for the day.

Lucky evidently checked e-mail just after I had left. The responses came in fast and furious:
(1) Lucky and colleague are sitting at a table, as they had been since ten minutes before our appointed lunch time.
(2) Lucky told me to call their cell phone – a different number than was listed in the signature block.
(3) Lucky was unsure why the hostess didn’t bring me to their table.
(4) Lucky forgot the signature block cell phone on their desk at the office.
(5) Lucky said it was a shame and that we must reschedule.

Since we’re in prime football season, let’s go to instant replay and break it down:
(1) Lucky sat at the table for over 25 minutes and never once checked as to where I was, and didn’t check e-mail either.
(2) Lucky didn’t carry the published cell phone.
(3) Lucky trusted the hostess, an absolute total stranger (and an obviously disorganized one at that) to bring the prospect (me) to the table.
(4) It’s someone else’s fault (the hostess) that we didn’t connect.
(5) I’m supposed to allocate another meeting slot.

What’s missing? Courtesy. In just a few minutes Lucky showed me:

(1) Lucky wasn’t focused on me. If you’re not focused on me on a first meeting, how much will you focus on me as a customer?
(2) Lucky really doesn’t care if you can get in touch when you need to. That would be mighty frustrating if we were in the middle of a business deal.
(3) Lucky displayed poor judgment and lapsed attention at the initial meeting. It’ll be a frustrating relationship if that’s Lucky’s normal M.O.
(4) Lucky passes the buck. So…. anything that might go wrong in our business relationship would be someone else’s fault.
(5) Lucky doesn’t respect my time. Lucky didn’t apologize, ever, and assumed that I’d allocate time for another meeting.

I won’t be a customer. There won’t be a business deal. I won’t take a chance on Lucky’s M.O. There won’t be a business relationship. And, there won’t be another meeting.

The sorry fact is, this isn’t the first time this has happened to me. This is at least the third time in the last year when a meeting was delayed or lost due to a sales representative not taking the time to be present and accessible at the meeting spot. We’re not at epidemic levels yet, but it’s certainly increasing!

All sales people work hard to get appointments. When you get one, you don’t have to go overboard showing your gratitude but don’t take it for granted. Imagine how good your guest feels when you are there, waiting for them, with an outstretched hand to shake. Imagine how solid you feel when you know you’ve met your guest and can control the interaction, set the tone, and build rapport from the minute they walk in (and not leave it up to an absentminded hostess to do it for you!). It seems very simple, doesn’t it?

Be present and accessible. Please, Thank You, I Apologize, and Excuse Me can go a long way, just like opening doors and reaching over unlock the door for your date (smile) went a long way back when you dated.

Courtesy matters. It’s not going out of style. But sometimes it’s just absent. Don’t be absent minded. Please… and Thank You.

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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Hang In There-They Will Eventually Call

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It’s been one of those weeks..  Everyone you talk to or get in front of doesn’t seem to really care about what you are selling.   We all hit that wall once in awhile.  Being a sales rep in IT is not an easy gig.  It certainly wasn’t like the late 90’s when the fax machine was spitting out PO’s like baseballs at a batting cage..  We need to create value these days and differentiate ourselves from the 100 other companies that sell a similar product.

The key to this rat race is persistence, and hopefully a product or service that folks need.  Guess what?  If you do the right things and act in a respectful manner they will call.  They need us!  Always remember that they need us!  It may not be today or tomorrow or next week but if your able to keep their attention they will eventually call.  Technology and services is what they crave and in the end we can help them be the heroes.

Hang in There-They will eventually call!!

Good Selling.

David

 

 

 

 

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