Paul Unger Editor PlaceTech

Editor’s Note: Dave, Ian and Tina too

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Paul Unger

There are three types of technology buyer – which are you?

There’s been a few event sessions about how to sell to corporates recently, which reminded me of a chat at the start of the year where a successful technology company had identified a set of archetypes that informed its strategy for selling into new clients. Whether you are a propco buyer or a techie seller, having the right person at the centre of the deal to make it happen is crucial.

Day-to-day Dave. Typically, the operations director or finance guy. Dave’s been handed innovation as a side thing to look after. He plans to spend 80% of his week on his main day-to-day role and 20%, ie Friday, on the new bit of his remit. But Friday’s time gets overtaken by the events of the week and erased, every week.

Creating a split role like this sounds the death knell for decision-making. It makes it too hard for a busy executive to prioritise tech in his day or week. The innovation bit is never today’s task. If you are asking the ops manager or FD to look at it – unless they are incredibly skilled at time management and the most organised unflappable person in the office, there will be little chance of getting technology projects off the ground. If you are a tech supplier who does get to see Dave, he won’t always understand what’s needed or ever get back to you because he also doesn’t have the time to read, attend events, listen, follow-up, look at trial results, email you back….

Techie Tina. Runs the in-house IT where you might think you would find an ally. Not quite. IT says ‘no’. Tina is quite happy with what she has, thanks and if she wants a new system, she can build it herself. Tina is an engineer, loves to build. When she’s good and ready. The head of IT sorted all the systems when she arrived and all the supplier relationships are nice and cosy now. And who wants more work, especially the risky business of selecting emerging technology or the awkwardness of training staff and drudgery of writing endless handbooks – all accountable to the board? Nope.

Innovative Ian. Chief executive, managing director, the head honcho. Loves tech, makes the decisions. This is who you want. Ian has read all the Raconteur tech supplements in The Times and has seen the future. Downloaded Harry Potter: Wizards Unite for his daughter on release day and likes to say ‘yes’ to everything that sounds fresh and futuristic, within reason. Knows capacity and dedicated staff will have to be part of this journey to make it happen. Ian has been studying the management structures of Big Tech in the Valley and is close to hiring a head of insight, head of research, head of strategy. Whatever it takes. Find your way to Ian’s door. And if you are the chief executive of a property company and don’t like the sound of Ian – have a look in the mirror and ask yourself ‘do I want to modernise or die?’ The answer might be you want to cruise to retirement without changing the way you run things. As long as unmet tenant demands and a rising sense of irrelevance in the market don’t get you first.

Basically, it’s the oldest thing in sales – everything rests with the decision-maker. Just with a new techie twist.

Momentum has to come from the top.

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