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The Secrets of Selling IT to CEOs

Throw away your PPT and have a conversation.

You have a great IT product or service.  It's the next killer app or a unique cloud computing play.  You KNOW your message will dazzle the pants off any CEO who hears it. But how do you get your message to resonate in the CXO suite?

Take off your IT hat and put on a CEO hat! To sell to the CEO suite, think like a CEO, not an IT salesperson. Package your message so it belongs in the board room. CEOs like interactive conversations with peers, not  boring PPT pitches.

Ten Tips for Selling IT to CXOs

1.  Do your research. What's top of mind for the CEO, what's on his radar screen? Know his care-abouts as if they were your own. Read his blog, analyze his public presentations, his media interviews. Get inside his head.

2. Sell solutions not features and functions. The broader solution sell  is what will capture her interest, not specific features. A litany of technical specs is a turn-off, but stories that demonstrate a broader solution to business problems might get her ear.

3.  Sell stories that demonstrate how her company can gain competitive advantage by using your service or product. Positioning against the competition is always top of mind for CEOs. How can you facilitate against the advancing competitors?

CEO4.  Sell a larger mission not a project. Think long-term, not an immediate sale. CEOs project into the future; IT managers deal with day-to-day immediacies. Take off your blinders and see the big CEO picture.

5. Sell stories that align to the CEO's own vision. Where does he see his company 3 to 5 years from now...how can your IT product/service be an integral part of that vision? How do you align to his priorities?

6. CEOs are in pain. They hurt on many fronts. Address his challenges and problems and find a way to show how your solution can ease his pain.

7.  Sell the value of your product to HER customers. Will your service/product affect her customer satisfaction scores? Create a loyal base or impact new clients?

8. Sell power. Show how your IT solution/product has a model of execution that allows the CEO (not just the CIO) to intervene and make incremental changes if she needs to. The C-suite likes control.

9.  Demonstrate how your service or product can help his team execute on his strategy.

10.Talk about how your product/service can impact the value of her company and impact growth.

Ultimately, have an interactive conversation and kill the PPT.  Selling technology to the CEO suite is about demonstrating how your IT products can create profitable growth opportunities that advance the CEO's company.  If you can do this, the CEO door will always be open to you.

More Stories By Loraine Antrim

Loraine Antrim is co-founder of Core Ideas Communication, a communications consulting agency focused on presentation development and media training for C-suite executives. Core Ideas enables executives to package and communicate relevant and compelling messages in their presentations and interviews. Loraine's expertise is killing butterflies. You know, butterflies: the feeling in your stomach before you have to present or speak in public. Loraine works with executives to create a powerful story, memorable messages and an authentic delivery style. Confidence kicks in, and butterflies scatter. Nice work killing butterflies! You can contact Loraine at: manager at coreideas.com