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Inside the Mind of an Executive Decision-Maker


As a business value seller, understanding the decision-making process from an executive standpoint can help guide your selling strategy, overcome stalled deals and help drive more wins.

Recently I reviewed a blog written by seasoned technology executive Gabe Rogol, CEO of Demandbase, in which he shared the criteria he uses when evaluating technology purchases for his organization, I read this article with great interest, curious as to the priorities of the executive decision-makers mind, and how you could potentially  leverage these to improve selling effectiveness.

Here are this executive’s top considerations and hurdles for any tech purchase decision:

#1: Alignment with KPIs

For this executive, KPIs are the “guiding stars” that hone the  organization’s mission and measure performance. Any potential tech investment needs to align with and drive improvements for at least one of these strategic KPIs. “With KPIs being at the top of my priority list, it only makes sense that I would consider first and foremost how a tech investment helps drive our KPIs forward”, says Mr, Rogol.

As a business value seller, it’s crucial to discover your client’s strategic KPIs that they seek to improve and use to measure performance. Once identified, you should articulate how your technology can improve the KPIs the executive cares about, and how you can impact these to achieve improvement goals

Be prepared to provide tangible evidence and case studies to build a strong case for how your solution can deliver the proposed KPI impacts.

#2: Time Efficiency

Beyond the key KPIs, the other important justification element is People optimization.  According to Mr. Rogol, “People are our most precious resource. And they’re smart! If we can save them time…help them do routine things more quickly…that frees them up to work on higher gain activities that only they can do. That’s worth a lot. So I consider whose time we can save and how much time.”

For executives, any tech investment should ideally save time and enhance productivity, especially automating tedious, manual tasks and processes. This would allow their team to work on higher value activities that uniquely require human capabilities.

This priority from Mr. Rogol matches what we hear from other business leaders, with Gartner indicating that the key driving force behind software purchases in 2023 is “Boosting Productivity”, the number one priority as cited by 37% of the 3,000 business leaders surveyed.

To be effective in your selling, you should demonstrate how your technology can save time and make routine tasks more efficient. The tangible ways your solution reduces manual tasks, streamlines processes, removes friction, enables less expensive labor and eliminates errors should all be part of your value storytelling and justification case. Detailing these benefits can significantly bolster the attractiveness of your offering, making it easier for decision-makers to see the value from investing in your solution and saying “Yes”.

#3: Cost Efficiency

Every executive nowadays wants to do more with less, and when it comes to your proposal, executives are going to ask: “Is this the most cost effective way to achieve the desired result?”

Even though you may believe your solution is unique, there are always different options and multiple ways to achieve an objective. Mr Rogol scrutinizes each decision, asking his team “Is there a process change we could make that would accomplish the same thing for less? Is there another technology that will work just as well, for less? Is this really the most efficient path to the goal?”

This does not mean that the executive always goes with the cheapest solution, but when evaluating the proposal, they will explore and question if there are other ways to achieve the benefit at a lower cost, lower risk and higher ROI. As Mr. Rogol indicates, “if all things are equal, we will go with the lowest cost solution”.

As a seller, be ready to pass this test of cost efficiency. Demonstrate how you cannot achieve equal results from competitive solutions and process change or alternative technologies. Quantifyyour solution’s value compared to the cost, and how it stands as the most efficient path towards their goal. If comparable options are available at a lower cost, you should be prepared to justify your product’s premium by proving superior value, lower risk and higher ROI.

The Bottom-Line

Understanding the mindset of executive decision-makers can help sellers better align and justify solutions, and get to “Yes” more often and more quickly.

Because of today’s executive decision making priorities, the ability to prove that your solution can drive KPIs, save time, and is cost-efficient will not only save you from potential disappointments but also earn your client’s approval and respect. 

Understanding these ‘tests’ is, therefore, key to enhancing your effectiveness as a business value seller.


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