A CXO Love Story: Part 2 – Let’s Play Nice


I selected one of the regions that had been underperforming for years as my test market for a new approach I decided to test. Call it the CXO nuclear option! I decided to focus in on the top three major players in the market and focus on getting in at the C-Level (Senior Level Executives) where I knew all the key decisions were made.

Being new to the market, my first plan of attack was to contact the company who was dominating the market offering similar and complimentary products to what we were had in our product and systems bag. I’ll call this company Pilot. I arranged a meeting with the president of the company who founded the company some 20 years earlier and was well known and respected.

When I arrived to at meeting we were joined by his son; the heir apparent to Pilot’s techno-dynasty. His son was taking over more of the sales and marketing role while his father continued to focus on the engineering and operations aspect of the business.

The meeting didn’t last long and dare I say it didn’t go as well as I expected. The father was open to finding ways of working together since he sensed (and had heard) that our company was committed to penetrating the local market and going after the big players was priority numero uno.

The son on the other hand was overtly hostile to the idea of working together. He was your archetypical know-it-all whose hostility towards my request for ‘playing nice’ became evident as we discussed how to work together on getting into the top client in the region.

“Why do we need you or want to help you when we have the client locked up?” he blurted out. His father looked over at him with a disapproving look; that seemed to put him back in his chair.

The so-called client the son was referring to was the crown jewel of the region that I’ll refer to as TechComp. Pilot was selling over 80% of all TechComp’s technology needs. The other 20% was doled out to small local companies for ‘appearances’ (i.e., TechComp didn’t want to be accused of favoring one vendor so they ‘spread the love’)

I pled my case to Pilot that although there was some product overlap, I also saw some synergies between our products and we could help each other. But my pleas were falling on deaf ears. I got the typical appeasement statements: “Let’s continue to talk and see if we can find a way to work together” or “Let me think about it and see if we can work with you on specific projects when they go to bid.” You get the idea.

The son continued to give me the quizzical stare as if to say, ‘Why do we even need to be here talking to you and why would we help you gain access to a client we’ve spent so many years cultivating.”

Their resistance was understandable,…but futile. I was determined to crack that account and win some of the business. I thanked them for their time and walked out of their office building knowing full well that the partnering option in this case was not an option at all. It was time to rethink the penetration strategy!

A CXO Love Story continues next week with Part 3: I Need a Squirrel

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