Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Vendor pitches at CIO events

Last week I participated in a CIO event which had approximately 100 odd CIOs/IT Heads together discussing and debating the "Customer". It was indeed refreshing to see the majority of the participants engaged in a discussion on how they can impact customer behaviour.

Like any such event, even this one had its set of sponsors, typically IT vendors big and small who expect their pound of flesh. Not that CIOs grudge them their 15 minutes of time, but they also expect something useful to emerge from the presentations. A few expectations that I could gather talking to the CIOs were:

1. Tell us about new stuff that is coming from your research labs which may impact my IT shop and can create value for the Company
2. Share success stories and failures which help us in our journey
3. Engage in a discussion or debate of real life problems faced by an enterprise before making a sales pitch
4. One-on-one sessions are more effective in selling to prospective interested customers than technical presentations

It was quite obvious that while the CIOs have evolved to the next level, the vendors still target them like they are IT Managers. This puts off a large percentage of the population and most sit through such sessions more out of politeness to the organizers than interest.

If this were not to change, I believe that CIOs will reduce their participation in events and such a step would be a loss to the industry as a whole !

What do you think the vendors' focus should be when facing a conglomeration of CIOs ?

3 comments:

  1. I agree with you completely. While their are vendors or rather their representatives who don't insult the intelligence of a CIO audience, the majority (read the marketing & sales folk at these organizations)seem to approach such events with their sales targets in mind. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the organizer to ensure that both the audience and the sponsor connect at a level that is intellectually stimulating. What’s the point of the event otherwise – you don’t take time out to chug a drink or go on a jamboree, do you?

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  2. People should read this.

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  3. Very interesting. Right questions but probably being asked to a wrong guy. Their job is primarily to sell what is out of the lab. Amidst target pressures, they do not get time to peep into the labs. They usually have a select (below 10) accounts that they manage vis a vis Product Management that typically has larger set of customers in their rolodex to meet every year so they have a larger perspective of (2) & (3). Blindspot? CIOs should call for connecting to Product Management. Their job is not to sell so they will answer your questions more like being an advisor to you. Their motivation is to find newer problems to solve. They connect to customers on a weekly basis listening to their problems and solving them so IMHO they can satiate the intellectual connect.

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