Getting Buy-in from the C-Suite: Speaking Their Language & Addressing Their Concerns

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

In the past, the IT department’s role was to drive technology innovations. But that role is changing. With the increasing emphasis on customer experience management, technology is playing a bigger role in marketing. That is giving marketing executives a bigger voice in technology decisions.

This has caused tensions in many executive suites between Chief Information Officers (CIOs) and Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). The CIOs see their roles eroding while CMOs see their positions evolving. This is either an opportunity for change or a recipe for disaster.

The smarter CIOs and CMOs are looking at each other as partners instead of rivals. IT executives are becoming more responsive to marketing needs while marketing executives are looking to information technology expertise in making strategic moves. It is a perfect partnership for managing the customer experience and moving both teams forward.

So, what is the problem?

This strategic CIO/CMO partnership is often a concern for the rest of the C-suite. When the CIO/CMO team comes up with strategies to move into new markets and add new technologies, the CEO, CFO, and CLO often have reservations.

They see these new initiatives from a different perspective. The CEO’s concern is to keep the company running. The CFO’s concern is to manage the budget, get funding, and manage financial risks. The CLO’s concerns is to keep the company compliant with relevant laws and regulations. Instead of being excited by the new direction, they see the risks, dangers, and disruptions that such changes can bring.

This is a side that the CIO/CMO team often fail to address properly. Since C-suite agreement is required for major initiatives, those initiatives often get axed.

How can CIOs and CMOs keep moving the company’s technology and marketing forward while dealing with the rest of the C-suite? The answer is for them to learn to speak the language of business. They need to do the following:

  • Show how the change will impact the business across all segments.
  • Address budget issues and legal concerns.
  • Provide a map of how the change will be implemented.

By speaking to the known concerns of the rest of the C-suite, the CIO and CMO are demonstrating they understand the potential impact of the changes they are proposing. This goes a long way in building trust between all the business functions. That makes future change easier for everyone.