If You’re Going To Call on CIOs, Undertstand Them

Ramon Baez HPIf You’re Going to Call on CIOs,

You’ve got to Understand Them…

What is Ramon Baez, CIO of HP, saying about Successful CIOs? Why do You Care?


In my book, From Vendor to Adviser, I have an entire chapter devoted to accessing power – getting to the decision makers as well as highly influential people; people who will move the organization to action. This morning’s CIO Journal (WSJ) had an excellent article discussing CIOs and what makes them successful. If you plan on meeting with CIOs, and working to become an advisor at the executive level, it’s essential that you understand what they are up to. Ramon Baez, CIO of HP, offers some great wisdom on this subject.

Leadership – Re-engineering HP’s IT

If you’re watching the IT news, you know HP has struggled.  There have been some really bad reports on this company over the past few years. One report even talked about trash piling up in the office and spoiling as HP cut corners to save money. People were leaving in droves, and the facilities were shutting down right around 5 PM to conserve energy, regardless of the individual workers’ schedules and deadlines.

Over the past two years Whitman, Baez, and other HP leaders have been working hard to recreate this company. One dramatic effort I’ve been watching is the emerging security play. HP’s tried this before, but not under this leadership team. As far back as I can remember, HP’s been trying to get into the security game. But it looks like they are really serious this time. In fact they’ve hired many of my friends from companies like Blue Coat, Kaspersky, Symantec, and others.  This would be a great thing for HP if they can make it work this time.

They are also moving into the cloud…Baez, in a move to make this company more responsive and ready to serve today’s market, has migrated about 400 applications to a private cloud. Baez tells the Journal, “What previously took five weeks to deploy, now takes about an hour.” Talk about operational efficiency.  By the way, this is a great sound bite – can you deliver this kind of ROI to your customers? Here’s a CIO quote with some substance from a credible source. The Journal report goes on to tell us that HP plans to “invest more than $1 billion over the next two years to develop cloud computing software and tools.”

This is the kind of thing CIOs should be doing for their companies. Can you help them get there?

Advice to CIOs and Sales People Looking to Advise

Baez’s article is really about CIOs and what they need to be doing to stay on top. His message is a good one, but it also serves as direction for the sales person who wants to peer at that C-Level. In his article he provides several important tips which I will summarize here…

1. Bring in people who think differently. He’s referring here to new hires who are bringing in new ideas as he works to overhaul HP…ideas that will help HP make the dramatic changes necessary to stay alive and thrive. Every company needs this. Every company needs something to propel it forward. That’s the role of the trusted advisor.  It’s what the Challenger Sale is all about (Matthew Dixon.) The question I pose in my From Vendor to Adviser book is, “Can you advise?” In other words, are you doing the things that make you smarter and wiser, and well equipped to be an advisor to today’s business leaders. Most sales people are not.

2. Talk Like a CEO. This is an interesting one. Again, Baez is writing to CIOs, not sales people. He’s telling them, if they want to be successful, they need to sound like CEOs, not technical people. That means they understand the business side, the profitability, the strategy, and the vision. But that’s what trusted advisors sound like. This is why companies like Deloitte and KPMG have offices on the nice floors of the enterprise accounts you call on. IT and the technical sales people are meeting down the hall from the data center – with no decision makers in the room.  How can you upgrade yourself to this level? By reading, studying, and observing. By becoming that trusted advisor.

3. Look Like a CEO. When I started in this business, I was in IT. I worked for McNeil Consumer Products – and I remember a few of the guys in the group always dressed like professionals. It caught my eye. From there I worked for Bank of America. Again, we all dressed for work. In 1995, when a group of us joined together to build an integration company, we dressed like bankers – we dressed for business. Some of technical guys complained. They didn’t understand.  Somewhere along the line, casual dress become the “in thing”. I have nothing agains business casual. But there’s a big difference between the CEO / CIO wardrobe Baez is describing, and that of the average technology sales person. Faded, logo-polo shirts will never impress the CIO.  It definitely gives the message,  “I work with IT.”

4. Get training. This is my favorite one. On my free training webinar yesterday I made a point of this. The reseller industry is terrible when it comes to training. Companies like Cisco and HP are spending more than your company makes in revenue in a year on sales training initiatives. I know because I’ve been hired more than once by these companies to train their sales people on meeting with executives to discuss technology.

But look at the resellers. Most of your training comes from the manufacturer – and it’s all product. It’s not the kind of training manufactures give their sales people. So while they are investing millions internally to ramp up sales, they are giving you “non-sales training” – product training.

But don’t blame them. It’s not there responsibility to make you into a great sales person. They expect you to be great. From there they can equip you with the technical details and assume you’ll sell it.

Not only does Baez recommend training, he also encourages these executives to attend conferences, and hire a coach. He has a coach!  Why? Because coaching works.

If you want to ramp up your game – take note. You need training, conferences, books, and coaching.  Even if you pay for it. If it’s good training, you’ll double your money in no time. If not, find a better program and continue to invest. You’ll get your money back when you hit the right program.

© 2014, David Stelzl





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