High CIO Turnover Creates Big Opportunities for Sales Reps

May 29, 2015 · 3 min read

By Henry Schuck

Chief information officers stand at the epicenter of business technology. Tasked with managing the tools meant to add efficiencies and enable new business models, CIOs are constantly adapting their technology to the needs of the company. As such, the ever-changing nature of the CIO position lends itself to a short lifecycle — shorter than you may think.

A recent DiscoverOrg survey found that about one in four CIOs leave their jobs every year. If you’re in sales, you should love how quickly the buying power changes in the C-suite. One change in leadership often triggers a series of internal moves, presenting multiple new selling opportunities. Roles shift, people get replaced, others get promoted and everyone starts their new job with a list of immediate priorities. Combined, this equals huge potential for the sales teams that can stay on top of changes.

The analysis of 20,000 companies found that 20 percent of CIOs turned over in 2014, with telecom experiencing the worst change rate at 29 percent. On the other end of the spectrum, companies in banking and legal services experienced a turnover rate of about 15 percent.

The chart below shows how frequently CIOs turn over by industry:

If there’s one piece of advice I can offer after seeing this data, it’s this: build solid relationships with CIOs. If you do, they’ll take you with them when they move. As a sales representative, building good relationships with CIOs is an invaluable asset as they move from company to company. Help CIOs be successful both quickly (when they first take over) and long term (for as long as they are there), and they will buy from you again when they move to the next company.

There are a couple of ways you can build and maintain strong relationships with your CIO contacts.

1) If you see a customer post an unprompted good review about your company online, send them some swag and a handwritten note thanking them for being a great advocate.

2) When someone gets hired in a new position, send a bottle of champagne and a congratulatory note, not as a quid pro quo, but as a “Congrats! You deserve it.” Don’t do it because you want something out of it — do it because you genuinely want to build on a good relationship.

On the flip-side, if you have a CIO who is blocking you at a company — don’t worry, they’ll be gone soon. Play the long game and be ready to help the next person succeed. Keeping abreast of these executive moves ensures that you are (hopefully) the first to reach out.

Another word to the wise — when these professionals switch jobs, act fast! CIOs quickly open their corporate wallets when they land new jobs. A recent study indicated that 25 percent of IT-industry CIOs spent over $1 million in their first year; 71 percent of those spent that much in the first three months of their tenure. With this in mind, be alert to executive moves and new initiatives at your target companies. Don’t let these selling opportunities go unnoticed.

In our rapidly changing IT landscape, it is crucial that sales teams diligently track changes in executive leadership and other major trigger events. With every shift in buying power comes a golden selling opportunity. Don’t let your next prospect pass you by.

About the Author

Henry Schuck is the CEO of DiscoverOrg.

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