The CXO Tunnel Vision Fallacy: Going from Hit or Miss Marketing to Iterative Improvement

Andrew Moravick

Whoever signs the final contract holds all the power in the purchase process, right?

Not exactly...

Rarely would I ever want to challenge someone to doubt the evidence they have right in front of them. It is, after all, so frequently right there in writing on a contract. The Chief [X] Officer, or highest ranking official is the most commonly appearing variety of title. A data set of deal signers as an indicator of who your buyers are would make a clear case for this to be true. Objectively, CXOs or other people with the highest ranking titles are often the most identifiable buyers for marketers to target.

However, my respectful challenge to you is this – is the evidence of a CXO’s signature telling you that the CXO is the ONLY buyer involved, or only that the CXO is one of a potential collective of buyers involved?

The CXO Tunnel Vision Fallacy: Focusing on One at the Expense of the Many

In the healthcare information and technology space, we do commonly see Chief Technology Officers (CTOs), Chief Information Officers (CIO), or other CXOs approving and signing final deals. However, given that the average HIT purchase cycle spans 12 months, if these CXOs were the sole contributors to advancing a purchase process, their proper titles would likely all roll up to CPOs – “Chief Purchasing Officers.” Seeing as healthcare and health technology executives do have more diversely demanding day jobs, though, these CXOs can’t really be the solo movers and shakers in the purchase process.

Naturally, that’s one circumstantial nugget of evidence that there may be more players involved than just the one CXO signer, but here’s a little more certainty…

Healthcare Information and Technology (HIT) buyer research, surveying 215 HIT buyers, shows that the average HIT purchase process is made up of an average of nine different individuals.

While this doesn’t mean there aren’t situations where a single leader may still be primary stakeholder in a purchase process, it does mean that’s not the norm.  What makes the CXO Tunnel Vision Fallacy so detrimental, though, isn’t that it’s simply a misperception of a common reality. The real problem is in the tunnel vision. It limits the scope of who marketers look to for insights, who they target, and how they engage.

More on that in a minute, but it also assumes riskier behaviors among buyers in pushing a potential CXO to take unilateral action.

Low Rewards, High Risks for CXOs who Would Circumvent the Buyer Collective:

The buyer collective is how we describe the multiple individuals contributing to the purchase process. At its core, it’s a multi-departmental group of stakeholders because there are often so many departmental considerations at stake, especially in healthcare IT.

When CXO Tunnel Vision prompts marketers to encourage the target leaders to take direct actions, marketers are actually pushing these leaders down a riskier road.

What happens if a CXO implements a solution that the end-users hate, for example? Mutiny? Dissent? Low-to-no platform adoption out of protest? Ignoring end-user buy-in is a huge risk for organizations to take in a purchase process, with no reward for moving fast if the end-users don’t end up using the product. That’s why end-users are often critical members to include in the buyer collective.

As another example, what happens if a solution needs more than just a plug-and-play set up? That is, putting the product to use requires a long term implementation and / or integration project to manage. Does the proposed timeline make sense to a project manager, implementation specialist, or even a consultant? If your CXO is a Chief Medical Officer, the tech capabilities may be appealing, but the tech requirements will likely need additional expertise. It may take another executive peer, or even a more tactical specialist to flush out all the vital implications. Wouldn’t it be better if these key people were already reaching out to the CXO vs that CXO having to track them down? CXO Tunnel Vision, though, doesn’t support this helpful, marketer-guided collaboration.

Ultimately, a big reason so many decisions are made by consensus is the simple fact that it distributes risk. It’s not all on one person. Moreover, the shared knowledge of the buyer collective should generally align and confirm that the purchase is the right move. It doesn’t have to be – and you probably don’t want it to be – all on the CXO’s shoulders.

CXO Tunnel Vision Blinds Markers to Opportunities in the Buyer Collective:

Again, the target CXO / deal-signer is certainly part of the purchase process, and you want to, of course, appeal to this profile effectively. However, different people with ties to the CXO — team members, peers or colleagues in other departments — are also consuming content, visiting pages, attending events and performing other trackable behaviors during the buying process.

Data on these behaviors, over time, can show recurring patterns common among ultimately closed-won sales opportunities. A technician at an account reads a how-to asset. An analyst reads up on compliance capabilities. A director watches a demo. A VP of Finance gets an ROI calculator from sales. Then the CXO signs the deal. These behaviors are your buyers telling you who can move the purchase process forward when they are able to engage with certain types of content.

Marketing to the buyer collective allows you to see all this and take full advantage! CXO Tunnel Vision, though, happens when marketers only see a small piece of a bigger picture. In the end, the key to avoiding CXO Tunnel Vision is to always look for more, and always be open to a wider scope of insights. The members of your buyer collective are there. They’re consuming content and looking for answers. Don’t let CXO Tunnel Vision leave you blinded to all the opportunities within your buyer collective.

For more research on Healthcare Information and Technology content marketing best practices, download our latest ebook: 7 Research-Backed Best Practices for Healthcare IT Content Marketing.

About the Author

As a Senior Marketing Manager for HIMSS Media, Andrew Moravick leverages extensive B2B & B2C marketing experience to oversee and optimize HIMSS Media's content marketing and demand generation efforts. In previous roles, Andrew has worked for Aberdeen Group, Snap App, PUMA, and Eloqua.

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