Tips on how to sell to a CIO by a CIO

Today, I was attending a sales training workshop and we had invited a CIO to share his experience on buying and dealing with so many vendors who pitch their products and services. He shared his thoughts on the do’s and don’ts about selling to a CIO.

Do’s:

  1. Do your homework and understand the CIO better. There are people who want to be buy into a vision and then there are people who buy into a product/service. Tailor your approach and presentation accordingly. If you try to mix them up, it is almost impossible to get a sale.
  2. Know when to step back from a sale and do so in a dignified way. This saves the CIO saying no to you.
  3. Always deliver what you said you will deliver. Based on commitment, the CIO commits to his organization and if you fail to deliver on your commitment, the CIO looses face with his board members. No one likes loosing face and never due to someone else failure to keep a commitment.  You may not be able to do business with that CIO for a long time to come. If this means to have an honest discussion with him/her regarding potential issues, so be it.
  4. Build trust. It takes a lot of time and action to build trust. Spend the time and put in the effort required to establish trust and stand by your customer whenever required.
Don’ts:

  1. If a CIO tells you that he will not be able to implement your solution in the short term, do not tempt him by offering him a bargain if he buys now. In most instances, this results in a disgruntled customer (because in most cases, they would not be using the product) and if there is a shift in the strategy, they might get stuck with an investment that they might never use.
  2. DO not talk negatively about your competitor. This will only get the CIO to pitch you and your competitor against each other, in the process, getting to know a lot more than he would otherwise know, get you both to do a lot more work and in the end result in a deal that is not very profitable to the vendor who gets it. Overall result, you loose any which way the deal might go.
  3. Do not go to the CIO and show your helplessness to them, for whatever reasons. Take ownership and solve any issues that might come up during the engagement.  
  4. Do not oversell to your CIO. This will result in a bad situation for both you and the CIO and will leave a bad taste in your relation with him.
  5. Do not overwhelm your CIO by getting multiple people to meet the CIO or his representative.
  6. Do not overwhelm your CIO by asking for too much information in the form of filled-up documents/templates/questionnaires, etc just because your organization needs this information. No one has the time or the energy to fill a 10 page document/template.
All of this is nothing but commonsense, but I think sometimes, most of us lose sight of these simple things. 

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