Change3 Enterprises LLC

Translating Technology Capabilities into Business Outcomes

How to Speak to CXOs & Line of Business Decision-Makers

Written by Kneko Burney on October 10, 2018.

  0 comment

Dear technology marketer, you may have found that more executives outside of the IT department are now the new face of your customers. Digitization continues to combine both business and technology, putting more business executives at the forefront of IT buying and influencing.

 

And for you, dear IT professional, you may have found that marketers are catering to your Line of Business decision-makers or CXOs within your organization. These decision-makers feel they have found the perfect product to help meet their business outcomes, however these products may or may not meet with your current IT infrastructure.

 

What does this mean for you both?

 

Line of Business decision makers are now the new face of customers.

 

The challenge technology marketers and IT professionals face is the ability to explain product capabilities to these new Line of Business buyers. The days of CXOs just deciding on a product or service and then having their IT departments 'just make it happen' is nearly non-existent. LOB professionals are more interested in business outcomes - it doesn't matter the product or service - as long as it accomplishes their end goals. This can be anything from increasing productivity to improving the company's bottom line, all helping to further the goals of the organization.

 

For example, a tech marketer can sell the Microsoft Office suite, while an IT professional may need to explain Microsoft Office as a suite of applications, servers, and services.

 

Business decision-makers just want to know what they can do with the suite itself:

 

  • How will Word help them craft budget reports with stylish designs?
  • How will Excel allow them to formulate financial audits?
  • What can OneNote help them with and why?

 

These how, why, and what questions often form a communication barrier between tech companies and their users – decision-makers may feel as though tech marketers don't really understand what the ultimate goals and outcomes are for their business. And they may also feel that their IT department speaks another language, often speaking above their heads on technical matters. Meanwhile, IT professionals can feel frustration in explaining how this new product can or cannot fit within their organization's current infrastructure.

 

So how do these two groups manage to speak to the new face of business technology buyers?

 

Changing Face of Technology

 

As mentioned, the primary LOB buyer is no longer situated within the IT department or heads a team with only a few IT staff as members. In the video below, Mark Brinda, of Bain & Company, explains how this change has shaped the way technology companies are selling to new buyers:

 

 

 

How to Become a Technology Translator

 

Technology marketers struggle in their communications with LOB decision makers, especially those leaders who are not as technically savvy as their IT department staff. They know what their goals are, but aren't aware of the best ways to reach that goal. For you, tech marketer, you need to be able to translate your services into solutions that will solve their challenges and produce the business outcomes they expect. Here's how you can perform the role of technology translator:

 

  • Step 1 - Ensure You're Targeting the Right Decision-Maker at the Right Time: As a tech marketer, you need to ensure that your company is targeting the right LOB decision-maker instead of just throwing out a net and hoping you've caught the person or persons who make tech purchases. In many cases, businesses might have actual teams of LOB decision makers, so it's important to speak the language of those team members. These team members might include a technical decision maker, a business decision maker, an influencer, and others. As a technology translator, your job is to speak across these team members in a way that demonstrates your product's ability to solve their business challenge and accomplish their business outcomes.
  • Step 2 - Understand Business Outcomes: The best way to market to LOB decision-makers is to explore what their current and future business challenges are and what they want their outcomes to be. This helps to build trust between you and a business leader, that you are aware of their challenges, what they want to accomplish and what your products can deliver.
  • Step 3 - Set Realistic Goals: Businesses run on goals. When targeting non-technical executives, it’s important to mention how your product will help them achieve these goals. As a technology partner, give your customers flexible or customizable options for how long they use your service, including technical help support. You should also cover how much time it will take before they will see ROI from choosing your company.

 

Technology Translator - Tech Marketers: Target the right decision maker, understand their business outcomes, and set realistic goals

 

For you, IT professional, you need to be aware of not only the influence tech marketers have on your business leaders, but the ultimate goal and outcome your leaders want to achieve. Often IT professionals are met with the dreaded 'eye roll' - the reaction given when they or their staff begin a lengthy discussion on how a product utilizes processor cores or how cooling affects a server hard drive; to a LOB decision maker, none of this matters and doesn't tie in with the business outcomes they want to achieve.

 

Making business leaders understand how company architecture and infrastructure work in conjunction with the very goals they want to achieve is one of the biggest challenge you and your staff face. And that means translating the highly technical language into something LOB leaders can understand and relate to.

 

Here are some ways for you to become a tech translator:

 

  • Step 1 - Don’t assume: Too many times, IT professionals assume their users know nothing about technology. This is a wrong approach. Assuming about their level of tech knowledge can make it seem as though you and your staff aren't interested in hearing their ideas or worse, that you and your team aren't aware of current technology. The better approach is to learn the tech levels of your decision makers and explain how the technology works with each other. Your CXO may not know much about technology, but is willing to learn how the architecture works. On the other hand, your CFO may only want to know how the architecture is helping the company's bottom line. In both cases, explaining the outcomes that come from the infrastructure is key - that's what the CFO wants to hear, while you can go into deeper explanations with the CXO if asked. 
  • Step 2 - Explain in Easy and Simple Ways: Let’s face it - technology is cool and tech people enjoy talking about it at the integral levels of production or application. Decision makers also find technology cool, like our CXO above, but not on the same level. They may not understand why having a 64-bit system is better than a 32-bit system. Explaining the benefits of a product over another is crucial – what will this product do in business? Will it help speed up important applications? This works in explaining how and why a product or service does or does not fit within your current infrastructure. For example, you could explain why a certain program won't work for your current infrastructure because it would alienate users running certain operating systems, which could dampen productivity and collaboration.
  • Step 3 – Plan on Re-education: As technology grows and changes, better products replace outdated ones, and in some cases, users need to re-learn how to master these new features and new editions. As an IT professional, you must be prepared to re-teach your decision makers - and users - how these new features or programs work, how they differ from previous versions and why they’re better at aligning with their business outcomes.
  • Step 4 - Understand Business Outcomes: As with the technology marketer, IT professionals must also be aware of their organization's business outcomes. LOBs and CXOs often have a reason to suggest or want to purchase a product or service. As a tech translator, it's your job to not only understand these business outcomes, but understand how your current infrastructure and architecture is helping to achieve those. This can then begin a conversation on what can be implemented for future upgrades or updates that can further those outcomes. 

 

Technology Translator – IT Professionals: Don’t assume, explain technology simply, plan to re-educate, and understand your business outcomes

 

An important factor to remember for both the tech marker and IT professional is this: for some of your business leaders, technology might be a frightening thing. The shift from manual to technical and digital has been dramatic and trying to learn new devices, programs, applications, and more can lead to frustration when they can’t figure out how to use it.

 

For you tech marketer, helping business leaders understand technology through your product will help them become more confident. And for you IT professional, helping your business leaders understand how this technology fits within your infrastructure and how it helps achieve business goals decreases the intimidation they might have when approaching your department. 

 

Our content creation team have both technical and non-tech experience to help deliver your message to both audiences, making sure to reduce the complexities of technical jargon. To explore the many ways we can help, give us a call for a free consultation.

 

 

Resources:

Talking tech with non-tech people

The Changing Face of Technology Buyers

5 Ways to help you explain tech to non-tech people

How do you market a technical product to non-technical people?

The Future of Content Marketing is Online Video


REQUEST A
FREE
CONSULTATION