The Dual Role CIO; Be Careful What You Say.


I lead both marketing and IT for my company, which is a long story not fit for these pages. Most sales people in both arenas don’t realize that strange combo can exist. Depending on which “hat” people think they are calling, I get very different approaches. Sometimes two reps from the same vendor call separately for each “persona.”

When sales people think they are calling the head of marketing, I usually hear:

* Babble designed to treat me as though I am technophobic and technically impaired

* How I can cut the IT department mercilessly out of my life

* How bad our web site and mobile strategy is because of those tech guys

* How I want to jump on the cloud, mobile, social media, and analytics trains before I am out of business

When sales people think they are calling the head of IT, I usually hear:

* Marketing jargon designed to treat me as though I am creatively and business impaired

* How I can make the marketing department like me and not cut me out of the company

* How bad our web site and mobile strategy is because of those marketing guys

* How I want to jump on the cloud, mobile, social media, and analytics trains before I am out of business

The common talking points seem to boil down to:

* Prospects are impaired and should be treated as such

* Playing business functions against each other is a winning strategy

* Insulting the prospect’s product/work will inspire an embarrassed rush to sign a contract

* Prospects (being impaired) are too backward to have considered (or even rejected!) all of the current trends

* IT & marketing can’t possibly talk to each other, much less have a common executive managing them

When people find out I hold both jobs, there is an audible squeal of tongues and minds screeching to a halt. The modern CIO and CMO are increasingly connected and more frequently the same person. It is time for your sales approach to jump on that train.

When selling to either the CIO or CMO (or really anyone else):

* Treat us like we are smart and capable but that we have a need you might be able to fill. Speak to us like adults.

* Treat us like we work in a common team that wants to succeed.

* Deliver proof how you are great at providing that mobile/web/other service, not how bad we are.

* Understand that our job is not to adopt fads and trends, but to run a business. Ask what we know, then educate us if needed.

* Traditional roles are breaking down. Assume that we share information and may even share roles that will surprise you.

Don’t babble or insult or divide. You will enjoy smart conversations and more business when working with adults instead of the infighting kids you sometimes make us out to be.

Happy Selling.


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.

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