Stop Selling To The CIO – They Are Not The Future

Going in circles


Selling to the CIO is over because they are not the change agents – they are the entrenched bureaucracy.

Selling to the CIO is no more.  Time’s up.

For a tech generation, the VP of IT, then the CIO has been the gold standard landing zone for technology products.

No more.

One of our portfolio companies has been delivering a disruptive (in a good way) technology for several years. They make calls only on the C-suite. They meet equally with CIOs and senior operations executives. They often come in via board members known to trusted advisors.

Every engagement begun with the IT side of the house ended badly. Actually, in most cases it never ended at all. Evaluation goes on and on.

The engagements begun with senior ops execs have had a wonderful, almost 100 percent success rate. Evaluations were focused, clear, on time, with proper resources allocated. Contracts were clean and done quickly.

References followed. Operations executives brought them into other parts of their firms when they showed success.

Is this a trend?

Our team was in meetings this week with one of the world’s largest cloud providers. You know them. Their sales rep and manager were telling us about their experience.

They NEVER call on IT. They avoid the CIO, universally.

If they are sent to IT, they find ways to get around it. They work with the operations executives to create value-based engagement plans to prove their cloud offering can deliver business benefits.

We discussed our collective experiences with today’s IT.

Our combined experience was that IT had less than zero interest in delivering disruptive change for the organization. A meeting between the operations president who found a new technology and went to IT ended with IT telling him or her 20 reasons why it would not work in their environment.

They hate change. Or they fear change. Or they are just too wrapped up in their current technologies to adopt change.

IT has become a dead space where people go to work, perform the basics they have been performing for decades, and get home in time for soccer practice. Change does not come from IT; change dies there.

IT believes digital transformation is using current vendors, who have not transformed themselves, to deliver 10 percent faster products. And they think this is transformative!

Their operations colleagues know this and are looking for alternatives outside of IT control.

This has significant implications.

Reports show over 43 percent of all IT buying now comes from “shadow IT,” or IT that is not controlled by the CIO.

Why wouldn’t it?

The brain-dead IT departments live day-to-day just hoping their jobs will last another quarter.

SaaS and software firms still selling to IT after crafting their “value props” are building their arguments on sand. There is now an institutionalized delay or deny process inherent in the CIO’s area of responsibility.

Using those DiscoverOrg lists, overwhelmingly focused on the IT department just leads clumsy tech vendors in the wrong direction.

The trend is clear:  IT departments are a dead zone for technology vendors.

See the trend. Embrace it. Ride it.

Stop selling to IT as your landing zone. Focus all your efforts on operations.

The day of selling to the CIO is over.

Reprinted from Software Executive Magazine On Line Edition