Value Creation and Differentiation–Sales, Marketing Achilles’ Heel


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Stan DeVaughn of Turner DeVaugh sent me a survey his firm conducted late last year in conjunction with Jigsaw for the CIO council entitled, “Vendor-CIO First Contact: Smarter Approaches for Vendors Seeking to Connect with CIOs”, which you can download by clicking on the link.

This is an enlightening, yet disturbing survey into the business development behavior of sales and marketing representatives from IT vendors and B2B software companies. It surveys more than 300 CIO’s about their experience with first contact from new vendors and suggests ways that corporations can better defend themselves from unwanted cold calls and SPAM.

The survey interviews 30 sales professionals to understand the problem from both sides and offers enlightened vendors suggestions on how to better engage their target market and is worthwhile reading for every sales and marketing executive.

The chart in figure 3., excerpted from the report is worth pondering a few moments; what annoys cios most resized 600

  • Sales reps revert to the cold call and telemarketing to generate leads, (despite low conversion rates) in order to satisfy sales managers, who need to be seen to be driving lead generation – this does not serve either organization.
  • Lack of preparation and lack of homework prior to a call is just plain unprofessional–period.
  • Unsolicited emails are SPAM and are as unwanted and annoying as cold calling to CIO’s; IT executives are actively encouraged to use permission-based SPAM filters.
  • Emails and voicemails with no clear value proposition–from the clients perspective, rank in the top 5 DON’T DO list.

We’re in Q3 2010, yet many IT vendors doggedly persist in 1980’s cold calling and poorly targeted email techniques, despite the miniscule success rates in vain the hope of connecting with IT buyers. 

“When we want or need a product like yours, we will find you” – is the CIO mantra that sales and marketers need to heed and understand; IT executives are not waiting for your call or your SPAMMY email.

The right approach to engage IT executives is made clear for vendors in figure 9:

cio differentiation criteria resized 600

  1. Vendors wanting to make first-time contact with CIO’s should do their homework prior to making an approach; leading with an opinion on value-creation, specific to the company and relevant to the industry.
  2. They should seek to connect through referrals from trusted acquaintances and social network introductions with a clear and relevant value proposition,
  3. They should also be prepared to include rather than circumvent the executive administrator (gatekeeper) in the process of calling IT executives,
  4. They should be prepared to use current technology to reach buyers on a permission basis and track click-through rates to measure buyer interest,
  5. Vendors should be prepared to use vendor portals and to communicate with a clear and relevant value proposition, coupled relevant proof points.

Conclusion and Call to Action

If the activities of your sales and marketing team rank high on the CIO annoyance scale in chart 3 or if they struggle to communicate value and differentiate offerings as in figure 9., then more of the same Outbound Marketing techniques are not going to help.

We believe the top priorities for IT vendors to help CIO’s and IT executives to find you on the Internet, understand your offerings and interact with your sales and marketing team are as follows;

1. Value Identification and Messaging Alignment

  • Develop messaging that identifies the buyer persona and value creation and enables the vendor sales and marketing organizations to align around how products are used by IT to create value and use it across all touch points in the organization,
  • Help the sales team understand industry issues and convey products usage in the context of achieving buyer goals and solving IT problems and integrate relevant proof points in Buyer Relevant Messaging templates

2. Adopt an Inbound Marketing? model

Use the output of the Messaging Workshop to drive Website messaging and Inbound Marketing process to help you

  • Get found on the Internet by IT executives looking for products with similar capabilities,
  • Convert those visitors into leads through using compelling offers and landing pages and
  • Analyze performance and make changes in a closed-loop system to accurately measure marketing cost per lead and cost per customer and integrate sales and marketing process for better sales performance.

We recommend the Hubspot Inbound Marketing System which has produced on average a 450% increase in leads in the first 5 months of usage for the 3000+ users of the system.

Connect with us to discuss whether the Value Identification and Messaging Alignment process and Inbound Marketing model is right for your business.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Mark Gibson
Mark Gibson has been at the forefront of developing sales and marketing tools that create clarity in messaging value for 30 years. As a consultant he is now engaged in helping sales, marketing and enablement teams to get clear about value creation. Clarity attracts inbound leads, clarity converts visitors into leads and leads into customers, clarity builds mindshare, clarity engages customers, clarity differentiates value, clarity helps onboard new hires clarity helps raise funds, clarity + execution win markets.


  1. I always use Jigsaw for lead generation and cold calling.
    It helps me find just the right people to call.
    Finding just the right people to call is the first step to success.


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