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Our Nation’s State CIOs Gather in Nashville

Last week, the annual conference of the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) was held in Nashville, Tennessee. State executives from coast to coast came together to share ideas and best practices under the umbrella of “Raising the Bar.” Specialists in technology, innovation, and security from both the public and private sectors put their heads together to stimulate both discussion and action.  Because the more we can do to innovate together, the better we can serve citizens.

One of the more interesting and important takeaways for me was feedback from several CIOs about how vendors manage their communications with – and therefore – their relationships with the CIOs.  There are increasingly more vendors selling into the Public Sector market space, and the net effect of this is an increasingly large number of cold calls, emails and requests for meetings with these C-level executives.

Whether it is to discuss an ongoing project, introduce a new offering, present a solution or support innovation, vendors can take steps to ensure that they are aligning to the preferences of how the individual states and CIOs prefer to manage requests for their time. When marketing to the State and Local Government C-suite some of the following may prove invaluable:

  • Focus on the relationship you are building rather than the number of emails you are sending. No one ever ended their day wishing they had received more email, especially those that are impersonal and irrelevant.
  • Respect the time you get, and ensure that you have done your homework. You can be sure that when you get a meeting with a C-level executive that they will have a clear idea of what they want to discuss and will be prepared. Be sure you do the same
  • Provide information from trusted sources, whether it is a technical subject matter expert, a third-party firm or a C-level peer. The IT Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) publishes research that includes viewpoints of Public Sector personnel. These are often cited as the preferred, and trusted, sources of information that support complex purchasing decisions.

I have the privilege to be a part of a Working Group organized by NASCIO that has surveyed several CIOs about their preferences for interactions with vendors. The survey report will be published shortly, and I look forward to reading the results on how the larger community views this topic. As a marketer to public sector it is imperative to me to effectively communicate relevant information to our target customers within the understandable boundaries they have set.

About the Author

Vice President, Xerox Public Sector. Lauren leads marketing and business development efforts addressing State and Local public sector audiences, and is a long-time member of NASCIO’s Corporate Leadership Council (CLC).