I recently attended a conference consisting of vendors who are selling to IT. A key part of the conference consisted of CIOs speaking to the audience about the issues that are most critical to them.
The most interesting thing I heard was that CIOs are driven by business need, not by technology:
- “I am driven by business need.”
- “I measure my results on business value.”
- “Business issues first, technologies second (or later).”
This was surprising to me because many technology vendors don’t talk very effectively about solving business problems AND they rarely assume that their CIO prospects are thinking about business issues. Technology vendors typically want to speak about their technology and assume CIOs want the same.
A few other themes that jumped out are captured in the following quotes:
- “Our objective is to reduce costs (usually measured as a percentage of revenue).”
- “Before we invest, we need a clear understanding of ROI and TCO.”
- “We drive to standards as a way to reduce costs and complexity.”
- “Don’t try to sell me a product, help me solve my business problems.”
- “Tell me how you fit within the Partner ecosystem that serves us.”
- “We will bring in new technologies, but its impact has to be very carefully measured, so we can determine the success or failure of that new technology.”
What can a technology vendor take away from these perspectives?
- The value proposition for the CIO needs to focus on the needs of the Business Decision Maker (BDM) while, at a later stage, incorporating the needs of the Technology Decision Maker.
- You need to understand the business issues the CIO and their BDMs are dealing with and speak to them in that context, not a technology context.
- The CIO, if sold to correctly, becomes the key decision influencer in bridging the business requirements and your solution.
- You need to speak to the CIO in the language of the BDM because that is the language they are hearing when gathering business requirements.
- You need to help the CIO show your technology solution helps them fulfill business requirements.
- You need to understand the strategic imperatives of the CIO, and tie your value propositions into their strategic imperatives.
- Understand who they are doing business with and Partner with those other vendors and services suppliers to show how you fit into the customer’s ecosystem.
CIOs are clearly being measured on business value provided to the organization. Ensure your messages address how they are measured.