The CIO panel, moderated by Rich Vancil of IDC's Executive Advisory Group, included executives from Chevron, Levi Strauss and Byer California (a mid-market company that manufacturers womens' clothing). Here are a couple of "gold nuggets" that I took away from this event including the actual quotes from the panelists: [my comments in brackets]
- "In a recent RFP process, I had discussions with five companies' sales teams. Only one out of the five companies was able to understand our needs and reiterate our challenges and communicate a solution without making it a one-way sales pitch." [How can we as marketers improve our sales enablement strategy to better equip our sales teams for these engagements?]
- "I prefer to print out white papers and read them at home, while my staff prefer web casts and other online material." [That's right, the CIO uses printed material to absorb information while more junior staff have adopted newer consumption methods. Always segment your customers. A role-based marketing strategy may highlight significant differences in how individuals consume information; including the continued need for an integrated, multi-media go-to-market approach.]
- "As a mid-market company, spend more time telling me about how you've deployed your solutions at companies similar to mine. Yes, you may have a Fortune 50 company as a client, but those companies will buy one of everything and put them on a shelf! I'll be investing my entire budget into one solution." [Segmentation and understanding of your customer, an often neglected area, continues to be a key success factor for marketing and sales engagements with customers.]
- "As a CIO, I may not use webcasts since every minute that I'm in the office someone is coming into my office; however, I may pass on the opportunity to my staff who I greatly depend upon to influence my decisions." [Once again speaking to the importance of a role-based marketing strategy. As B-to-B marketers, we need to not only understand the importance of selling to different members of an extended buying team, but embed this knowledge into our go-to-market and sales enablement strategies.]
As if we ever need reminding, the importance of maintaining our connection to our customers should never be underestimated. In fact, I find that the best marketers serve as a "beacon of light" for customer and market information for the entire organization. Don't let your marketing cuts inhibit your drive to serve this role in your company. Now more than ever your customers' needs are changing, if not due to rapid adoption of the Internet then most certainly due to the economic downturn.