This post is sponsored by Selling Simplified.
The hierarchy of a company’s IT department begins with the CTO. Within that IT department, there are multiple, specialised departments, each with an executive, their delegated responsibilities, and team. Within each of those specialised departments, there is a further delegation of responsibilities among employees.
Throughout the whole department, there is a constant flow of information and ideas – within specific teams and between them, up towards higher-level management. Like an electrical system, there are multiple circuits and routes for electricity to move. There are multiple switches to turn on the lights.
When you’re on a mission to make a tech sale, it can be easy to get hyper-focused on the CTO. They are, after all, the primary decision maker for their company’s tech. But when trying to turn on a light, you don’t typically go straight to the bulb – you go to the relevant switch.
By focusing attention on the pertinent IT executive and members of their more specialised department, you are targeting the people who look into solutions and products like yours. You are sending information through the wires towards the decision makers.
IT departments are far more complex than single lights with single switches. They are simultaneously split into a multitude of specialities, but still thoroughly interconnected. Decisions made within the server and storage team radiate out and impact the rest of IT. There are multiple switches and circuits to the CTO.
My brother, a senior IT director, is a living example of this. His team consists of more than 70 people and seven specialised departments. While my brother is the main decision maker for server solutions at this company, he relies on members of his team to do the research and make recommendations to him, so he can share the information with the other IT directors and CTO. He reports that, as an executive team, they come together to formally make the final choices.
So, it is clear that you must surround the whole group – allow your information and solution to move through as many wires as possible. The more paths that it can travel across, the more likely it is to reach the desired end point – the illuminated light bulb – the decision made by the CTO – the sale.
Don’t allow yourself to only see the bulb and ignore the system that supports and lights it. It is essential to spread knowledge about your solution to the entire IT team in order for it to be the one that rises to the top and ultimately turns on the light.
Workflow: IT project shortlisting, evaluation and selection.
Wayne Wong is a senior IT director (server and storage systems) at a global life science/pharmaceutical MNC.
The company’s APAC IT team (based on SG) has 70-plus personnel. Reporting to the CTO, there are seven IT divisions (each in charge of specific solutions). Wong leads the server and storage division.
- The IT purchase is done as a team. Wong advises that his IT purchase is done as a team where multiple stakeholders are involved in IT project shortlisting, evaluation and selection. His IT team schedules biweekly team meetings to discuss all the implementation plans and recommendations where all IT teammates can share their views. While Wong is the main decision maker for a server solution, his other teammates (including from other IT disciplines) individually have the ability to “buy-in” or veto the suggested shortlisted providers. While the CTO is the main cheque signatory, all seven IT directors are the main evaluators before formal approval.
- Main responsibilities. Primary responsibility: Research, evaluate, shortlist on the server and storage requirement; secondary responsibility: Evaluator for solutions (outside of server and storage).
- Preferred approach to be “sold”: Wong advises that he will reach out to the shortlisted providers when he is ready. During the conversation, he outlines the importance that the caller understands his pain points and adopts a “consultative” approach in solving his challenges. Such an approach allows him to share his “frustration” on the limitation of his current solutions – where the caller can uncover sales opportunities. Depending on the conversation, he may share pain points (both server and storage and other IT disciplines) as well as the more concise time frame implementation for each.