Often the CFO or CEO signs on the dotted line to purchase your product. It’s true. They are often the ultimate decision maker. Also true. Makes sense you should target them with your marketing efforts. Not so true (usually). Many companies put all their marketing efforts into trying to reach that elusive c-suiter, which can seem like the shortest route to home base, but in reality, could be a waste of time and money.

There are a few reasons why you should think about targeting your efforts a little further down the food chain.

  1. The CFO isn’t the one feeling the pain. If your product solves HR recruiting bottlenecks or accounts payable invoice processing headaches, the CFO probably feels some effects of those headaches, but possibly not enough to make it a top priority to find a solution. Find the person who feels the pain of those problems every day and offer a solution.
  2. The CEO has a lot on her plate. Particularly if your product solves a small pain point, it’s hard to get through to the person at the top. She is inundated with problems to solve, meetings, email and sales pitches all day long. Your chances of cutting through all that competition to get her attention is small and even if you do (because you are awesomely creative), you need to have a solution that solves a problem she’s facing at that moment or you’ll lose her.
  3. Research and vendor selection will be delegated anyway. Even if you connect with a C-suiter, it’s likely they don’t have time for a full vendor review and will delegate that task. If you target your marketing efforts and nurture programs at the rest of the team, you’ll be ensuring you make the list when mr. or ms. project leader starts evaluating.
  4. You get more chances at bat. If you’re selling a software product, there are often many people who will evaluate and be involved in a purchase. The CFO might have the final say, but a sales process could be started by an admin, a project manager or most often, a mid-level manager. If you’ve warmed up all of these potential buyers with marketing messages over time, you’re more likely to get someone at the right point of consideration. Targeting just the c-suite means your pool is small and your chances of right time, right place are much lower.

If you’ve ever taken a sales training course, you probably heard the mantra about not selling to someone who doesn’t have the authority to buy. Not to discount this message, it’s certainly important to know how much influence your champion has when heading into a lengthy sales process, but these days b2b purchases are a team sport. If you want to maximize your dollars, make sure you’re reaching out to everyone in a company who could potentially use your product. You never know who will take that first swing.