Why your CXO engagement programs sucks (and what to do instead)

Back view of entrepreneur having meeting with business partners late in office. Multiethnic start-up team brainstorm and discuss late in office

Every year CMOs look at the dismal ROI on their CXO engagement programs and scratch their heads. It’s very clear that having strong relationships with the CISOs, CPOs and CIOs in key accounts can pay huge dividends but the ROI on most standard CXO programs is pretty dismal.

Digging into the data for these programs it’s easy to see why they don’t work well. CXO dinners, boxes at sporting events, golf events and ‘speed dating’ programs are expensive. These events range from $25,000 to $50,000. Most marketing budgets can support that kind of cost (although the cost of running these events regularly in every sales territory can quickly mean and investment of over $1M) but the problem is that the executives you want to build relationships with rarely attend these events.  The most common titles at these events are VPs and Directors. These are great relationships to have but they rarely get you in front of the executives who set strategy and sign purchase orders.

In the rare case when the CXO of a key account actually shows up at one of these events, there is very little time to get to know them. And everyone realizes that these are thinly disguised sales events. The sales focus is reinforced when the follow up is handled by the sales organization and the outreach is focused on setting up appointments for sales.

In the meantime, CXOs (and CISOs in particular) are getting more and more burnt out on this model. They are deluged with invitations to all kinds of events. All you have to do is Google CISO dinners to see how many events are happening near you every month. For busy executives whose calendars are already packed full it’s a stretch to get them to give up an evening with their family or friends for a steak dinner, or a sports event.

CXOs understand that vendors need to make money, but in our conversations with them they tell us that they don’t like to be approached this way.

They want vendors to take time to learn about their challenges and their priorities before they spin up their sales machinery. The problem is that most CXO engagement programs are not designed to create this kind of dialog but most CMOs don’t know what else to do, so they keep doing the same things and hoping for a better outcome.

The reality is that investing in a well-designed Advisory Board accomplishes everything that CXO dinners and specialty events do not.

First of all, instead of a mixed bag of titles and companies the attendees are exclusively the CXOs of the key accounts that matter most to your business. Second, this is a multi-day, face-to-face meeting between the executives at your most critical accounts and your executive team.

Instead of a crowded, noisy environment with lots of distractions, Advisory Boards are small group events orchestrated to ensure there are multiple opportunities in business and social settings for everyone to connect and converse. Your executives hear firsthand about their business challenges, how they use your products and what they need from your business to make them more successful.

More importantly, prospect CXOs hear from your champion CXOs about how they are using your solutions to solve some of their most pressing business and technology problems. There really is no substitute for peer-to-peer endorsement.

Advisory Boards foster deeper, more meaningful relationships by design. The allow your team to demonstrate to your customers how invested you are in their success through active listening, engaged discussions and giving (and receiving) advice and support.  And that’s exactly what CXOs are looking for in a vendor before they decide to expand their relationship with your company. How do we know that? Because that’s what they tell us.

Want to know how we can get your company engaged with the executives from key accounts your marketing and sales teams can’t reach?  Ask us how.