Top 8 tips for Selling to the CIO

Selling to the CIO
Selling to the CIO masterclass set to take place on 29 – 30 June 2016 at Henley Business School in Johannesburg. (Photography by Darryl Linington).

Let’s face it, selling to the modern-day CIO is not an easy task. These industry executives essentially live busy lives. They are busy 24/7, and are bombarded with technical sales calls day in and day out; however, there are ways and means to successfully sell to them.

At the next Selling to the CIO masterclass, set to take place on 29 – 30 June 2016 at Henley Business School in Johannesburg, attendees will learn key strategies to successfully win over the CIO. In addition, leading CIOs will offer essential tips on how to communicate strategic and operational value and how to earn trusted advisor status.

Ahead of the upcoming Selling to the CIO seminar in Johannesburg, here is our list of 8 tips for selling to the CIO:

1. Understand the challenges that the CIO must face
The modern-day CIO is an extremely busy individual. Not only are they swamped with technical sales calls, but they  also strive to meet a criteria of objectives that will impact senior management in a positive manner. Much like most senior positions, this will allow them the opportunity to advance their career.

By selecting the right vendors, CIO’s become more secure in their position. Management wants to know that the CIO has what it takes to move the business forward. But what can you do to get into their good books? Your ability to make a CIO successful is critical to them being willing to engage in a business relationship with you as well as purchase your technology products and services.

At the end of the day, it is all about understanding that the modern-day CIO wants to move up in the world of business.

2. It’s face-to-face or nothing at all
Booking time with a CIO can be a difficult task; however, once you have them hooked it is best to be prepared when you pitch. While a phone call can do the trick, it is always best to meet face-to-face. When selling to the CIO, always be prepared to provide as much information as possible when meeting with them. Remember, their time is short. So delivering the facts is more essential and efficient than trying to deliver haphazard promises. Always remember, in this game… Time is money.

3. Know the business and technology landscape before you call
As mentioned many times before, the CIO has little time, which essentially means that they cannot take out time to research the features and benefits of your technology offering. Essentially, you will need to supply this information to him/her either on the phone or in person. It is critical to get the facts, features, and benefits correct otherwise you may just miss the opportunity that you have fought so hard to get.

4. Dedication brings the results you need
Shifting from one end of the spectrum to the other can cause a lot of disruption when it comes to the modern-day CIO. The CIO of today wants to dedicate his time to one or two fruitful ventures at a time. However, by catching their attention on one point and then shifting the focus to something irrelevant may just lose their attention and interest.

At the end of the day it is all about what ventures will pay off, and what won’t. Stay focused, dedicated and always be prepared. Additionally, stick to one industry that you know through and through, rather than trying to spread it out across various industries that you know very little about.

5. Don’t try wing it
As stated before, knowing your stuff is essential when selling to the CIO. While knowing your technology is the base point for attracting the CIO, you will also need to know what your competitors have to offer as well as why your technology differs from their technology. Business is competitive, which means that today’s CIO is always looking for the best opportunities to take advantage of.

At the end of the day product knowledge is key… especially when it comes to your technology as well as the technology of your competitor. Furthermore, having a sales force that is well spoken, knowledgeable, and inspired to do the leg work is crucial to breaking through the barriers of the modern-day CIO.

6. Knowledge and preparation goes further
Having a sales force that is knowledgeable is key to selling to the CIO; however, presentations as well as demos, go a long way too. One thing that is worse than not knowing what you are talking about is not knowing what you are talking about during a live demonstration or demo.

Essentially, knowing your technology as well as having the ability to do an on-the-spot presentation will definitely capture the attention of any CIO who is looking for a fruitful venture.

7. Referrals are key
Let’s face it, in this industry, at times, it is not what you know… but who you know. This means that it is highly vital to gain a valuable referral from one CIO to another. There is nothing more valuable. When sealing a deal ask the CIO of the company to refer you to three other CIOs. This will open up a world of opportunity.

8. Putting it all together
In conclusion, we understand that today’s modern-day CIO is an extremely busy person. They do not have the time to do the traditional sales song and dance. We know that they need the facts, features, and benefits all in one. We also know that they only pursue fruitful ventures that will not only impress management, but also help them get to the senior positions they so often deserve.

While selling to the CIO can be a daunting task, it is not impossible. Always be knowledgeable, factual, and never try to wing a presentation. By knowing your stuff, and by having the ability to pitch your product at a  moments notice you will realise that you are already half way there.

The other half is keeping the relationship between you and the CIO. Once you successfully sell to the CIO, you may think that the deal is signed and the commission is the bank; however, you still need to keep them as well as the client happy. Keeping both the client CIO and client happy is crucial when it comes to gaining a great reference. Remember that in technology selling, the vast majority of sales to CIOs are driven by reference accounts and referrals.

Without positive references and referrals, you will essentially be back in the position you started in, which is trying to figure out how to sell to the CIO once again.

To gain an in-depth perspective as well as vital skills on how to sell to the CIO, register for this Master-Class, which will teach IT sales reps how to connect with CIOs, establish trust, and build profitable relationships.

Some key topics that will be discussed at the next Selling to the CIO workshop include:

– Your Strategy to Win over the CIO
– Navigating to the CIO: Top Down and Bottom Up Approaches
– The Human Nature of the CIO: A Personal and Psychological Profile.
– Presenting Your Solution: Using Logical Arguments, Emotional Appeal, and your Character.
– Organizing the Presentation to the CIO: How to Gain Credibility and Overcome Objections.
– CIOs Describe Habits of the Best (and Worst) IT Sales Reps
– What CIOs Say Earns Reps Trusted Advisor Status
– Penetrating the Organization at Various Levels of Responsibility
– Communicating Strategic and Operational Value

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