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Know the Customer and Get Intelligent

(It’s not that hard!)

I have come to the point that now I only answer internal calls. Yes, these are calls from internal to the company and I can’t take another external call. Why? Because it usually is from somebody trying to sell me something I don’t want to buy. So, I let the external call go to voicemail, praying and hoping it’s not a call from a critical customer or critical contact that I really should answer. Yes, salesperson, I have customers too but how do I answer their calls when I’m afraid I have to talk with yet another salesperson about something I’m not likely to buy? That’s crazy and I’m a bit resentful that I can’t talk to my customers or somebody that depends on me. Leave me a voicemail and I usually just delete it in about 5 seconds. On rare occasions I do listen but only when somebody leaves an ‘intelligent voicemail’ and its starts with intelligence. What’s intelligence? Knowing your customer – the age old adage. By the way, the same applies to an email. Leave me voicemail that belongs on the “Do not call list” or spam me with something that just clogs up my email box is not the way to get to my heart.

If somebody does their homework and leaves me an intelligent voicemail or email, I’m more likely to return that call or email. By the way, I don’t really care about your product or service. What I care about is whether or not you know me and my company and how your product or service REALLY relates to me or my business? But how can you do that if you don’t know me or my business?

So, when you send that voicemail or email you better start with – knowing your customer and start with intelligence. Let me give you a few hints and it’s all pretty simple:

Know the company – There is so much available information out there in the public domain (the web) on so many companies but it’s rare to see a salesperson willing to invest the time to do some simple research. I recently read a 3 page report from a securities analyst about our company. I was shocked at how much the analyst new about our business, our goals, and our future direction. In just 3 pages, he captured the essence of the company and, guess what, the analyst NEVER spoke to anybody from our company and came off extremely intelligent. That information is also available to you on the web and you too can be a smarty pants! By the way, security analysts are smart by nature and well compensated people that are paid for their ability to quickly express the essence of a company to potential investors. They did the research for you – steal from them!

Know what an IT organization looks like – If you are selling to IT, know what an IT organization looks like. Should you get the organization chart – sure. Always helpful and valuable but extremely hard to get. But, trust me, the organization charts may differ by company and there may be more or less in each role but IT organization are very similar across industries. It’s not that complex. Let me boil it down to three things. People can work in multiple areas but they are either: PLANNING, BUILDING, OR RUNNING IT related stuff for the business. Each area has a budget so know what the role of that person is when you leave your next voicemail or email. I use the pejorative term ‘people’ meaning IT people in the company organization you are trying to reach:

Plan – people that are creating roadmaps and plans for the future of IT. Setting direction for IT with a focus on the business. These are enterprise architects, senior IT leaders, and senior business analysts often from the business. Powerful people if you can get to them because they usually know what’s important to the business and what IT has to do to fulfill their plans. These PLAN people often have limited budgets and are strategic thinkers but they are already planning for next year and probably not helpful for spending this year. Catch them in Q3 or Q4 when they do have influence on budget. 5-10% of the IT budget for a company is typically in PLAN.

Build – people that have projects that are providing value to the business. They get their direction from the PLAN people. The BUILD people usually have budget to spend and they need help getting their projects done for the business. These are program managers, technical architects, and business analysts. Sell to the technical architects and business analysts and then move up the program managers. Once the build is done, the BUILD people give their project to the RUN people. Remember, BUILD is only 10% of the life cycle of a project and 90% of the remaining life cycle cost goes to RUN. If you are lucky, 20-30% of the IT budget is in BUILD.

Run – people that are running operations day to day for both infrastructure and applications support. So much of RUN today is outsourced and it’s hard to get sales traction here because it is so commoditized. IT organizations are moving aggressively to the cloud and abandoning their data centers. We are letting go our day to day internal RUN people and using managed services (outsourcers) from large or boutique providers for infrastructure and applications support. This is a commodity based business that is cost sensitive so cost savings with quality is ultimately what matters. The RUN people are not doing the work but they are often leading and managing the cloud providers or the outsourcers. If you are lucking 60-80% of your budget is in RUN but for many, particularly older companies with lots of legacy systems, this number can easily be 85-95% of the IT budget. By the way, many are still not in the cloud so if you are selling on getting customers in the cloud you may be in luck.

Know what’s important to the CIO – Again, IT groups sometimes think they are special and unique but usually they are not. The priorities for the CIO vary by business and by industry but some of the “Top 10 IT Priorities” continue to be the same year over year (e.g., Business Intelligence) but others on the list are newcomers (e.g., Digital Transformation.) If you are speaking to a CIO you should know and understand the Top 10 for IT regardless of business or Industry. If this is what matters to the CIO, sell based on the Top 10. Here is a list I just grabbed that was published from Gartner Inc. and, yes, it was available on the web!

You can be a smarty pants too! So before you leave your next voicemail or email, go do some homework and please KNOW me and my business and start with INTELLIGENCE when you leave that voicemail or email if you want to do business with me. Invest your time if you want mine.

Submitted by: Mr. Guest CIO

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