Notes from Tampa Bay Technology Forum’s March 7, 2012 Business Development Network Meeting

Summary Provided by Speaker: Ford Kyes, Founding Partner of ActionCOACH Pinellas (former CEO of St. Anthony’s Hospital and EVP of the BayCare Health System) 

Andy Swenson, CIO of Vology Data Systems and Ford Kyes, Owner of ActionCOACH Pinellas presented to the Business Development Network of TBTF on March 7, 2012. The goal of the program was to provide insight on how the C-suite prefers to be communicated to by sales and business development professionals. Attending the session was promoted as helping sales professionals to better understand the dos and don’ts of calling on executives.

This program was designed to allow the audience to: gain insights into the mindset of C-Suite level executives as they are approached by sales professionals, to learn approaches which can be successful in catching the interest of executives to agree to respond to email or phone messages and ultimately to get agreement to take a face-to face meeting. Criteria used by executive decision makers for ultimately make a buying decision was also presented. They also discussed IT related issues relevant to all companies, such as project origination and justification, infrastructure, vendor selection and security. The goal was to give participants valuable knowledge that they could use in their own organizations as they design and execute their marketing and sales systems.


Understanding the CXO Mindset: What do they really care about?

Productivity & Profitability at the top of the list.
– Keep “customers” happy (ALL key “customer” groups both internal & external)
– Wants to “look good” in eyes of peers & internal key customers
Employee Engagement is a key concern and they need to be on board.
Implications to Performance Indicators — concerned about direct results to business chassis.
Accurately Forecasting Expenditures, Customer Service Results, and Change Management. Surprises are a BIG concern.

Strategies for Becoming Valuable and Overcoming Resistance

Einstein’s definition of insanity… many CXOs are doing the same thing over and over, getting the same results. It’s all about “What you don’t know, You don’t know” – many CXO’s have a very strong opinion of their very strong opinion based on what they know – this has to be overcome! Questions are the answers.

Match and Mirror… understand differences in how CXO’s communicate based on their fundamental differences (or similarities) in communications and personality styles.
– want options (so THEY can decide) but too many options seems overwhelming.
– want problem solvers vs. problem identifiers. Learn to speak & understand business language.
– want “hard” savings or “hard” profits vs. soft dollars. Hard is cash, soft is we’ll “save your employees time”.

Relate effects of technology to their basic business model. Short term during transition and long term.
– Understand and relate your product / service to their strategy (The core to a great business strategy is the intersection of what they’re passionate about, what they can be the “best” at, and their economic engine – what will make money).
– Think of Jim Collins’s SMaC Concept (Specific, Methodical and Consistent) to relate to CXO thinking.
– Cardinal rule no surprises – look to under promise and over deliver.
– Gartner’s Hype Curve CXO’s worry that a particular proposed technology’s value may not yet be well understood or proven.

The Top 5 criteria, research shows, used by All consumers (including CXO’s) to base purchasing decisions are the following :

#5 Price (It’s not #1), #4 Selection (people want options – but not too many), #3 Service (based on how they define it), #2 Quality (What they get out, not what you put in), #1 Confidence (consistency & reputation is key).

Proper strategy requires CXO’s to make trade-offs.

Choosing what not to do is almost as hard as choosing what to do. Business leaders always have too much to do and insisting on everything can cause a loss in credibility. Beware of the reality distortion field first coined from Steve Jobs and defined as the ability to distort an audience’s sense of proportion and scales of difficulties and make them believe that the task at hand was possible. The value proposition must be clear, compelling and proven.

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