My inbox was recently graced with a well written cold pitch for a technology product that actually looked interesting to me so I gave it a full read. This following line and its subtle peer pressure will sound all too familiar.
“Our current clients include Company A, Company B, Company C, Company D, and Company E in your industry.”
Despite my sometimes socially limiting career in IT and what the writer apparently hoped, I know my CIO counterparts at 3 of the companies. I forwarded the email to each of them to ask the simple question: “Is this product and vendor worth my time to follow up?” A positive answer would have likely led to a phone call or email to the company. The unfortunate response: not one of my peers had ever heard of the product or vendor. They never got the call from me and my email just poisoned the water for them with my three peers.
A while back, I was in a meeting with a vendor who presented the required slide with a dazzling eye chart of client logos. One small one nestled in the corner caught my eye. It was a small company I had cofounded and where I remain an active board member. I would have known (and been surprised) if they were a client of this vendor. They were not and now they never will be.
Would you sign a contract with somebody who started lying at the first meeting? No trust, no sale. Don’t assume that I don’t have a network and won’t check your client list myself. Your networking can work either for or against you and you will reap what you sow. It is OK to be small or a startup or to conservatively state your client list. Every company was once a startup and once had a small book of business. Own your reality, state ‘facts’ like client lists that are real, and show me your value. It’s not that hard to make sure the network works for you and not against you.
by Mr. CMIO
Mr. CMIO is a 20 year veteran in IT who has done almost every role in applications, infrastructure, and management. Most of his adult working life has been in the financial services industry where he does constant battle to keep regulators and auditors from making things harder and worse. After dealing with regulators and auditors, sales people don’t scare him and he’d really like them to actually help him.
Mr. CMIO has twice created the CIO role for public companies and is known as a mentor and coach who has developed other senior IT executives. He is active in industry and community organizations developing the next generation of leaders. In the last 5 years, he has taken on the additional roles of running business process improvement, new business launches, and chief marketing officer (CMO). He is part of the new breed of cross-functional IT executive. Don’t try to trick him or go around him, it only makes you look bad and he tells his friends about you. Work with him and he will work with you.