Title is no factor - work your Beachhead contacts
Enterprise IT solutions are sold to companies not to individuals. You'll need to win over many decision makers in the buying process. If you don't, your competition will find the key influencers early in the process and then stack the deck against you. Never get hung up on titles, when you are generating leads - focus on critical purchase influence.
Once you’ve generated a sales lead, consider your strategy to work with your new beachhead contact to navigate the prospect company's buying process. Find the right beachhead—and they will educate key decision makers on the virtues of your product and encourage them to take a close look at your business case. You want to make your beachhead contact into your champion.
Key purchase influence at the early stage will come from information gatherers and researchers with a wide range of titles and responsibilities – their role is to help you get your messages and critical content to key decision makers that help you build your business case. Engage with every contact [regardless of title] online and via e-mail to move them through the buying process.
Your beachhead is not the only person involved in making this technology purchase. IT decisions will germinate from mid-level tech personal to the CIO. And, key business decision makers may have already built a business case with their technical counterparts long before the CEO ever considers the purchase. Every company today will involve multiple people in an IT purchase and hundreds of titles are now critical to the process [you can thank the Internet from this changing landscape]. For example, the COO isn't technical - so he needs to consult his tech management to move on any purchase. A developer doesn't always have buying authority - so needs to get approval from his manager or VP-level staff. The buying chain is very complex and you'll need to make multiple contacts within that process to move your prospects quickly to action.
Early in your new relationship, ask your Beachhead contact where he fits into his company’s buying process and who else he can introduce you to - to help you make the sale. In the past, you may have thought that your product is only purchased by CIOs, but that may now be wrong thinking - when you discover that the sale is already lost if the decision reaches the CIO without any advocacy for your solution from the lower level technical managers.
Don't assume that you know how every company launches their research phase. Expect to be surprised [hint: it rarely is initiated by the CIO [or even VP level] and if you focus on the most senior level technology titles, you will be late to every decision process]. Mid-level technology professionals and senior business executives often make the best beachheads. Key technology staffers often drive the 'short list' and their recommendations are trusted by busy senior technical managers. And, business stakeholders may help you develop an ROI analysis that closes the sale before you competition is even considered. Both technical and business influencers can help you make your business case. So, use both effectively as beachheads into your prospect company's buying process. And, never get hung up on their titles...