Selling tips from a CIO on how to sell to him (or any other CIO)


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Today, I was going through my blog posts and came across a post ( that I had written a long time back.

Sometime last year, I attended a sales training workshop where we had invited a very senior CIO (Manish Choksi, Chief of strategy and CIO, Asian Paints, the market leader in paints in India) to share his experience on buying and dealing with so many vendors, who pitch their products and services to him and his team all the time.

He shared his thoughts on what he expects from the sales teams that interacts with him and his team.

Some of the information that I had captured in my post are as below:


1. Do your homework and understand the CIO better. There are people who want to buy into a vision and then there are people who buy a product/service. Tailor your approach and presentation accordingly. If you try to mix them up, it is almost impossible to get a sale.
2. Build trust. It takes a lot of time and action to build trust. Spend the time and put in the effort required to establish trust and stand by your customer whenever required.
3. Always deliver what you said you will deliver, when you said you will deliver. Understand that based on your commitment, the CIO commits to his organization. So, if you fail to deliver on your commitment, the CIO loses face within his organization. No one likes loosing face and never due to someone else’ fault. You may not be able to do business with that CIO for a long time to come. If this means to have an honest discussion with him/her regarding potential issues, so be it. Be honest and discuss those issues upfront.
4. Know when to step back from a sale and do so in a dignified way. This saves the CIO saying no to you.


1. If a CIO tells you that he will not be able to implement your solution in the short term, do not tempt him by offering him a bargain if he buys now. In most instances, this results in a disgruntled customer (because in most cases, they would not be using the product) and if there is a shift in the strategy, they might get stuck with an investment that they might never use.
2. DO not talk negatively about your competitor. This will only get the CIO to pitch you and your competitor against each other, in the process, getting to know a lot more than he would otherwise know, get you both to do a lot more work and in the end result in a deal that is not very profitable to the vendor who gets it. Overall result, you lose any which way the deal might go.
3. Do not go to the CIO and show your helplessness to them, for whatever reasons. Take ownership and solve any issues that might come up during the engagement.
4. Do not oversell. This will result in a bad situation for both you and the CIO and will leave a bad taste in your relation with him.
5. Do not overwhelm him by getting multiple people to meet him or his representative.
6. Do not overwhelm him by asking for too much information in the form of filled-up documents/templates/questionnaires, etc. No one has the time or the energy to fill a 10 page document/template.

All of this is nothing but commonsense, but I think, sometimes, most of us lose sight of these simple things.

What do you think about these? Are there any other do’s or don’ts you have learnt from your experience?

Do share your ideas or experiences in the comments section.. As a community, we can all learn from each other.

Mukesh Gupta
I currently work for SAP as Customer advocate. In this capacity, I am responsible to ensure that the voice of the customer is being heard and play the bridge between customers and SAP. Prior to joining SAP, I have worked with different organizations serving in different functions like customer service, logistics, production planning & sales, marketing and business development functions. I was also the founder-CEO of a start-up called "Innovative Enterprises". The venture was in the retail & distribution business. I blog at


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