March 10, 2011, 2:58 PM — Ask CIOs what their biggest professional frustration is and the answer might surprise you, says former CIO Mark Hall. It's not rogue systems, shrinking budgets or network outages, says the now CEO of xPeerient, provider of an online community for CIOs. "The repeated issue every year-what keeps CIOs up at night-is the sales and marketing practices of technology vendors. It's a cat and mouse game. It's not efficient for buyers; it's not efficient for sellers. The whole relationship is problematic."
Hall recounts the story of the pharmaceutical company CIO-a marquee customer of a major software and services vendor. The CIO was holding two days of strategy meetings attended by the vendor's very famous president. On day two, the CIO's administrative assistant messages him that someone from the vendor company is on the phone and transfers the call to the CIO's cell. "Hello, sir. I'm so-and-so in corporate sales," says the voice on the line. "And I'd like to find out if you have any software needs." The cold caller was employed by the very IT vendor whose president was sitting across the table from the CIO. "That's the kind of disjointed approach to relationships that vendors have," says Hall. "You'd think the vendor would have a better CRM system than that, but the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing. That kind of bungling happens every day."
Hall says he wants to level the playing field between IT buyers and sellers and xPeerient has introduced a platform for CIOs to anonymously initiate the buying process with vendors. But his own sales pitch aside, Hall says somethings got to give-particularly in outsourcing, a relationship business where starting off on the right foot is critical. "The core problem is how buyers and sellers are introduced," Halls says. "It's fraught with friction."
CIO.com talked to Hall about how much money technology vendors waste on lead generation, the trickiest techniques IT leaders have developed for evading dogged salespeople, and how to fix the broken tech services marketplace.
CIO.com: IT spending around the globe continues to grow. IT organizations spent more than $3 trillion in 2010, more than $800 million of that on outsourcing. But you say vendor sales tactics are stuck in the dark ages.
Mark Hall, CEO of xPeerient: The core problem is the way buyers and sellers are introduced. It's inefficient. It's built around the language of war, with sales teams talking about campaigns and ground fire. There's friction and distrust. IT vendors spend $25 billion a year doing lead generation for internal sales, according to IDC.