executive engagement

Why Executive Engagement May Not Be the (only) Key to Success

Momentum ITSMA Staff

November 24, 2021

Executive engagement is held up as the gold standard, but in my view executive engagement is not as important as decision-maker engagement.

Why Executive Engagement May Not Be the (only) Key to Success

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Engagement with the C-suite is the holy grail of enterprise marketing, but if everyone is trying to do it surely only very few can succeed.

That’s the view of Janis Fratamico, a pioneer in relationship marketing who has spent more than 25 years building successful engagement programs with senior positions at Bloomberg, IBM, PwC, KPMG, SAP, and Citrix.

In a conversation Janis and I had at ITSMA’s Marketing Vision 2021, Janis argued a thorough re-think of an engagement strategy is required if organizations want to develop the relationships that can build and maintain sustainable growth.

The entire conversation was enlightening, high energy, and just really fun. Janis has such a strong voice in B2B marketing, and here are some of the soundbites from our discussion:

“Executive engagement is held up as the gold standard for us, but in my view executive engagement is not as important as decision-maker engagement.”

“Everyone wants to engage the C-suite, to have a relationship with the CEO, CFO, or CIO, but the folks in these roles often delegate their decision-making to people in their teams—and these are the people you need to build a relationship with.”

“You can waste time and budget going after the top dogs, and the truth is that everyone is sending them material and inviting them to events—what makes yours any different?”

“It’s better to focus on the people who will make the decisions that will best impact your company, and these are often line of business heads who are not in the C-suite.”


The key here is insight, with those organizations that have a comprehensive understanding of the customer’s buying team more likely to succeed. Knowing who does what, who has budget authority, who is building the business case for change internally, and who has the final say are the beginning. What follows is building a relationship with those people to discover how they like to be engaged with.

According to Janis, it’s critical to identify both the level of trust you need to get a decision and how that decision maker works. You can’t rely solely on the product, service, or offering you’re selling; instead, you need to understand what the executive you’re targeting needs to get promoted and define what’s of value to your prospect’s customers or end users.

To hear more of my conversation with Janis, listen to this episode of the C-Suite Marketing Podcast where we also talk about:

    • Remembering that executives are humans, and marketers need to connect with them on a human-to-human level
  • The risk of falling back on what you know and accepting mediocrity as success
  • How to meet the rising expectations of your audiences

Note: this podcast was taken from a session at ITSMA’s Marketing Vision 2021 conference. Members and conference attendees can view this session (and all other sessions) at no cost.