Chief information officers and IT directors must act like the best sales people if they are to succeed in business.
Speaking at a management seminar, Marc Jantez, of management and training consultant BlueSky, said that while people associate leadership with the ability to create direction and inspire: "It is also about selling and getting someone to buy. Great leaders need to be great sales people."
No one would describe Nelson Mandela as a sales person, yet over a lunch with Bill Gates he convinced the Microsoft billionaire to donate $10m to fund good causes in Africa, Jantez pointed out.
"An IT director may have a technically brilliant idea for a new CRM for the business, but may be unable to get business buy-in unless he has a sales conversation."
Many IT departments consider the business as an internal customer. "The flip side of internal customers is internal sales. Being prepared to truly sell something shows you believe in it," Jantez said.
In practice this means IT directors and CIOs need to build trust, come across as authentic and engage with the people they speak with.
Building trust relies on making informed decisions and understanding stakeholders by getting information in an unbiased manner, according to Jantez. "Have a conversation early on [in your plans] to share your intent," he advised
To appear authentic, Jantez suggested that people needed to come across as enthusiastic.