I recently ran two events in the same week on digital transformation and it was a unique juxtaposition.
One event was attended by more than 150 enterprise sales managers who are striving to learn how to sell digital transformation strategies to the c-suite. The other was attended by an elite group of more than 20 CIOs who were sharing stories about the challenges they face when rolling out digital transformation projects.
It struck me that in both cases that there were 3C’s that were key to their success. Both parties were all trying to achieve the same goal for different sets of customers. In both cases, external customers and in one case also an internal one.
3C’s for CIOs: Capability, capacity and culture
For the group of CIOs, I asked the question for their respective enterprises as they looked forward on these 3C’s. What were their gaps? Did they have right digital ‘capability’ to drive the enterprise forward?
I was referring to areas such as:
- Design thinking
- Lean startup
- Customer journey mapping
I then asked the CIOs if they had the ‘capacity’ to manage true transformation in all of these areas. Every transformation creates stress and strain, I’ve never seen any organisation have excess capacity – particularly of the right capability.
Bearing in mind some past scar tissue, I also asked if their enterprises had the right depth in of staff and skills to tackle the peaks of the effort required to make that breakthrough and truly transform their processes. Most were struggling with the bandwidth that was required.
Finally I asked the CIOs if they have the right ‘culture’ that will enable and sustain the digital transformation. The CIOs all gravitated immediately to the gaps in their organisation’s culture.
It is clear that they understand that both in the business and in IT, that there are significant gaps which will impede the success of digital transformation.
Culture is all about the right ‘mindset’, and how do we create this with our own teams and indeed with business partners. And this is not about ‘good or bad’ culture but more about culture that will embrace and support this digital transformation.
3C’s for enterprise sales managers: Capability, culture and content
In the second session, I ran a fireside chat with the CEO of a respected enterprise provider. This organisation is moving into a broader solution set and as a result, looking to engage with the c-suite.
The CEO’s team of 150+ sales and sales support members were keen to make the leap into providing tools for digital transformation.
My role was to help them prepare to make this pitch to the CIO and his peers. It is clear that these meetings are a critical element of their overall account management and sales approach, and we talked about the best ways to tackle this. I even suggested that if the CIO looked too distracted should he suggest the meeting is rescheduled?
It was insightful that this organisation, like many of its competitors, understand that digital transformation is where their customers are facing. Hence they want to be able to sell solutions to meet this demand.
We also talked about the day in the life of the CIO, and how to prepare for a pitch. It is clear that suppliers are providing ‘capability’, but to succeed they too need to have the right ‘culture’.
By ‘culture’, what was meant was confidence – that their solutions would stack up against new competitors and they the planned approaches in this new territory would have a high probability of success.
And there was a new ‘C’ and that was ‘content’. This was a weapon to be used to help position their capability, I explained that being able to share a best practice use case from another industry is powerful.
For instance, being able to add that a client ABC has 100 per cent hybrid cloud or big data implementation and you would be happy to ‘connect’ them is the really a big deal.
How the sales manager can help make the CIO, understand and learn new things can potentially also make him or her look good.
Selling to the c-suite
No CIO ever wants to be ‘sold to’, but we all want to have good partners to work with and rely on.
It is intriguing when you start to look at the idea of would a CIO want to have a partner sell to his c-suite and the answer is ‘maybe’. This all depends on the level of trust that exists and the partnership that is in place.
Every CIO during a transformation needs to add capability and capacity. The leader also wants this to be a good cultural fit, and needs to be able to sense if a partner has the right stuff.
My personal hypothesis is that the way to sell this to the CIO is around content.
Using stories that illustrate your products is key and when others are doing this, then it’s even more powerful.
Yes, content is king – but is a means to an end.
David Gee is the former CIO of CUA where he recently completed a core banking transformation. He has more than 18 years' experience as a CIO, and was also previously director at KPMG Consulting. Connect with David on LinkedIn.