• SiriusDecisions conducted a survey of 868 buyers around the world from 15 industries to understand their buying preferences
  • We compared the buyer roles and behaviors of 397 C-suite executives from the survey
  • Once CEOs, CIOs, CFOs and CTOs are engaged, they’re more likely to support your deals

Although it’s not surprising that executives act as decision-makers in purchase decisions much more frequently than other professionals, what is surprising is that they are more fully engaged throughout the process. C-suite executives report being more involved than other buyers and having more interactions (17 interactions vs. 15) from the beginning to the end of the buying process. Four executive roles – CEO, CIO, CFO and CTO – are the key players in large and strategic deals and can act more independently in smaller deals, so read on to find out how to go after them.

  • men in suits shaking hands closeupProvide a plethora of content for CEOs. CEOs do their own due diligence to make sure their organizations invest wisely – especially for critical strategic buying decisions with the potential for significant impact on the company. In these buying situations, they average 32 human and non-human interactions – 10 more than other executives. They are very often final decision-makers but also are key influencers when other executives such as CIOs, CTOs or line-of-business executives own the budget. In all cases, CEOs prefer getting objective information from third parties (even more than vendors). So be sure to brief analysts and consultants, and sponsor peer networking events. Develop a thought leadership program with the CEO in mind, and ensure you have a strong online presence – CEOs are avid consumers of information across all channels. 
  • CIOs are decision-makers, but they don’t engage often. Because CIOs are the budget holders for almost all technology-based purchases, they act as decisions-makers more often than any other executive or buyer. They are involved in smaller, single-purpose purchases as well as enterprise-wide buying scenarios in which they might have to manage requirements across functions and business units. They have a high level of engagement and authority in buying decisions but have fewer external interactions (13) than other executives (17). They are likely to delegate the due diligence activities about vendors and solutions to their lieutenants. Technology providers should arm these lieutenants with information, demos, competitive comparisons and tools (e.g. an ROI model) that can persuade the CIO. Webinars, peer events, seminars and executive meetings are good human channels for CIOs, but you might have only once chance to make a good impression.
  • CFOs play a key backstage role in business decisions. CFOs can play decision-making roles in small point purchases, and influencer roles in large enterprise-wide purchases where scrutiny to understand the financial impact on the company is needed. CFOs, like CIOs, have markedly fewer external interactions (13) than other executives, so they are harder to engage. They are usually more involved in the final selection phases of the buying process, so it’s wise to ensure they view your company and solutions favorably early in the buying cycle. They are more interested in support and implementation issues than other executives, realizing the financial impact that these two areas can have on the ROI of a purchase. For human interactions, they prefer networking with peers; they also value interactions with a salesperson or executive. Be sure you inform CFOs about the business benefits of your solutions while meeting their financial requirements.
  • CTOs might well be the best way into the executive team. Typically, CTOs are responsible for the long-term strategic direction of technological or scientific capabilities used by their firms, and often play the decision-maker for any significant technology or scientific purchase. They have more time to engage than CIOs and average 18 purchase interactions vs. just 13. CTOs are more interested in engaging directly with the vendor than other executives, and gain value from speaking to vendor executives, salespeople and subject-matter experts. They value a breadth of interactions and content – from white papers and case studies to free trials and social media. Provide them with a wealth of tools and content as well as conversations with key representatives to help them win over the rest of the executive team. 

More findings, insights and data about buyers – executive, technical, horizontal functions and vertical industries – are available in the Buyer Insight Series, an exclusive offering of SiriusDecisions’ Portfolio Marketing service. These detailed discussions of persona behaviors can help you formulate your content and campaign tactics to achieve better usage and response rates.  If you’re a Portfolio Marketing client, log on to the client portal to download the full reports, along with a complete data set of findings for each persona.