Over the last several years, I have asked CIOs multiple times about how they would like their performance to be measured. One answer has come back repeatedly: They want to be measured the same way as their Chief Executive Officer is measured. Hopefully, this isn’t news to anyone reading this piece.
This should really matter to technology sellers. As I mention in my review of “The Qualified Sales Leader,” John McMahon says, “account executives need to slow down to go fast. They need to understand the magnitude of their customers’ pain and environment.”
Today’s technology sellers show how they solve their customer’s real pains. And sorry, this isn’t about your product or its features. It’s about business problems that create a sense of urgency to buy.
One Simple Question
A few weeks ago, I was with a savvy technology seller. I asked them about the customer’s problem. They came back with a series of problem statements that the customer had with their current technical approach. All of the statements proved valid in a meeting with the customer, but they were technical problem statements.
The problem for technology sellers is that CIOs, who is typically their buyer, have morphed over the last few years. The focus of CIOs, as they moved from reporting to the CFO to the CEO, is no longer about back-office business productivity and efficiency. CIOs today are focused upon front office effectiveness and business model transformation. This by necessity changes how they get measured.
As important, CIOs have been clear with me that they do not take out inefficient processes simply because they cost their firm too much money. There must be a business outcome for making any change. Savvy sellers realize this and make sure that what they propose attaches to the metrics CIOs measure their performance against.
What Metrics Do CIOs and IT Govern Themselves By?
So how do CIOs measure themselves? To a certain degree, the answer varies by industry.
When I was talking with the customer of the above-mentioned technology seller, their sense of urgency had to do with the move to value-based care and how quality of care determined reimbursement rates. This meant for this organization everyone needed to align key healthcare performance metrics.
Let’s now look at the answer by industry.
Financial Services Institutions (FSIs) handle many issues that matter greatly, from driving innovation, gaining market insight, and improving compliance. From my interactions with FSIs, the ability to build customer intimacy is critical to keeping customers and building new customer relationships.
CIO Dennis Klemenz says for these reasons, “projects get prioritized by customer impact first. Employee impact today is second. Experienced PMs set milestone dates and track timeline, budget, and quality. Most ROIs I’ve dealt with are just as arbitrary as deadlines are. If you meet a client’s needs, money flows.”
CIO Pedro Martinez Puig agrees and says, “for your CEO, IT should be measured by customer NPS; for your CFO, IT spend vs plan and CAPEX ROI; for the COO: Service Availability; for your CMO: customer acquisition cost; for your CSO: Carbon footprint; for all, Revenue Growth Rate.”
Former Banking CIO Wayne Sadin says, “focus on results as seen by the business. How much has IT done to raise the top line and decrease SBU + SG&A operating expenses.” Without question, business impact is what matters most.
As I implied earlier, healthcare is going through massive change in every area from improving patient care to how services are delivered and paid for.
For this reason, it came as no surprise that CIO David Chou said that “a big personal pet peeve is when a CIO starts measuring metrics like ticket resolution, time to close tickets, or just using tickets in general. I am still trying to change that culture. The only metric that matters is user, and customer (patient) satisfaction, all of the other metrics are useless if you do not measure the result.”
Technology companies are increasingly challenged especially those that deliver physical products to their customers. For them, business metrics are important.
Former Iron Mountain CIO Ken LeBlanc says,“define success criteria and qualitative and quantitative metrics before starting a project; define how to measure results; hold IT and business sponsors accountable to those expectations.”
CIO Carrie Shumaker said that because of the long term nature of goals like retention and graduation, how IT should measure itself depends on the IT team. “For frontline teams, it should be customer satisfaction. For projects, it should be performance against business KPIs. In higher education, [the goals] may take years to manifest so we also should measure more immediate quality.”
CIO Milos Topic agrees with Shumaker and says “while we can’t measure everything, client experience comes to mind along with project delivery. Additionally, CIOs need to co-lead the innovation ecosystem across the university and produce new products or services that grow revenue or reduce expenses over time.”
CIO Bo Wandschneider adds that “satisfaction surveys play well in terms of laying a trust foundation. High scores signal fiduciary responsibility.”
Former CIO Joanna Young suggests that “IT should be measured overall by institutional goals (in other words, sales, profitability, new product delivery, customer delight, and enrollment). IT, also, needs to align technology goals related to quality, delivery, effectiveness, customer service, transparency, efficiency…And choose a few measures that are meaningful and understandable vs. boiling the ocean with a plethora of dashboards and reports.”
So if you didn’t get it before this post, CIOs are business people first and technology people second.
This means salespeople need to focus their discussions upon business problems that urgently need to be solved. CIOs across the above industries have the same types of metrics applied to them. These are around customer and business outcomes. Technology sellers that work at these can determine whether a sense of business urgency can be attached to an opportunity or not.
Simply put, smart technology sellers understand their customers’ problems and show how their products solve these problems—they are solution focused.