It’s not products, it’s not technologies, it’s not prices. It’s uninterrupted
comfort level. That is what finally helps in selling. This was the CEO of a
leading IT company, not complaining, but stressing on what he called the
emerging trade secret. Provide your customers a minimum level of service and
maintain that level. Keep in touch with the CIO and his team. And that’s it.
Repeat as well as new business will keep flowing in.
There are several reasons for this according to a CIO, who was earlier
in-charge of marketing of an MIS package. The first and foremost is the reducing
differentiators between competing products from various vendors. Most PCs or
servers or printers or even MIS packages offer more or less the same
functionalities. And they can run on most of the platforms, and can handle
similar applications. It really does not matter much which product a user buys.
Prices, similarly, are also very competitive.
Therefore, most of the time it is other things like delivery on promises,
flexibility in business relationships, and accessibility is what matters more.
Hence factors like availability and accessibility at trouble time, quality of
support, flexibility in payments conditions, are often more important for
winning deals rather than product quality or price. Plus, if there is a personal
relationship between the CIO and the vendor CEO, nothing like it.
Does it mean that CIOs will place million and billion dollar orders just on
personal relationships? No. They will get a thorough and scientific evaluation
done. But the fact is that CIOs and IT managers today are really pressed for
time. They have lots of pressure from the various departmental heads for faster
roll-out, quicker implementation, and zero down-time. They cannot spend lots of
time evaluating products or vendors. In fact, they do not want to take the risk
of trying out new relationships or products, unless there are very strong and
compelling reasons. So, if there were no major goof-ups by the existing vendor,
and if there are no great differences in the product, if the sales manager or
the sales director is known to the CIO and his or her team, the order will go to
the person or the company.
I did a quick check to see if vendors are really using their "good
customer experience and personal relationships" line in all the
communication they use. I mean their ad campaigns. If that is what really helps
in selling, will it not make more sense to flash them in the ads to potential
buyers, rather than keep harping about products and technologies. I checked our
own July 1st issue-the DQ Top20 volume 1. Out of a total of 175 pages of
advertisements in that issue, there were less than 5 that could be termed as CIO
Obviously, getting a happy CIO to say good things about a company and its
product or service, for an ad campaign, is next to impossible. Not only will
motives be assigned to the CIO but he will also spoil relationships with other
Also, in this highly competitive world, no marketing manager will want to
share with the world his database of highly satisfied CIOs. That’s committing
suicide-believe sales and marketing managers.
A few months back I had written about how a lot of IT buying decisions are
still taken on the basis of reasons other than
RoI. In fact, someone had mentioned that if every sale were to happen on the
basis of RoI, nothing would be selling. While IT is all about leading edge and
rapidly changing technologies, the interesting irony is that the buyers and
users of IT are
still human beings, whose views on personal relationships, risks, and
experiences do not change.
The author is Editor of Dataquest IBRAHIM