CEO as Chief Buyer Officer

April 18th, 2013 by Matthew Rosenhaft Leave a reply »

We are all seeing a shift from vendor-driven to peer-influence is marginalizing vendors. Buyers demand to be empowered with education on the problem definition before they engage for education on the solution differences.

We believe that the underlying problem that is driving this shift in your markets FROM a buyer’s perspective is that your company is not helping them understand what problem(s) that you solve for them. We believe that this is accelerating because the availability of information is increasing in markets. The buyers don’t need or can’t find the vendors who don’t help them with decision support. But, why is this a CEO level problem?

We believe the need to realign the business focus to actually solving problems for buyers rather than generically advocating solutions at the market level is the most critical impact to adoption and to driving market share. CEOs are responsible for the business’s focus. Why do we exist? Are we here to sell more products, deliver solutions, meet revenue targets, and return shareholder value? Yes. But fundamentally, we exist to solve a problem for our buyers.

As the CEO, if your company is not articulating a tangible, targeted problem to specific buyers, your company is probably missing buyers in the market who are filtering their re(search) on specific pain or problems. If I am not aware of your solution or company, how can I include you on my short list to fix my problem?

But, my problem as a buyer is not a generic problem, but a specific pain and possibly underlying cause of that pain. If you aren’t identifying what problem(s) that you solve on your website, how can you expect me as your buyer to be able to answer? If I am the point person for a team of buyers who aren’t as educated, will they be able to connect the dots from our situation to your solution? If they didn’t see themselves in the problem, will we be able to get agreement to the problem or get comfortable enough to make a quick decision? Are your customers able to connect specific pain experienced beforehand to the resolution of the problem through your solution?

If you are not helping them with a specific problem, you are not helping them solve a problem. You are leaving money on the table. “What problem do you solve and for whom” is a very simple question, but not an easy answer. But, who owns it? Marketing is focused on the market, Sales is focused on the 1:1, and Customer Experience is focused on the after-the-sale experience. But who owns the buyer’s perspective to take responsibility to solve the problem on behalf of the buyers? Who is the Chief Buyer Officer?

At the end of the day, where is the win for your business? If you lose 80% of your prospective buyers from awareness, interest, to close, why? Do you continue to optimize “Solution-ing” or invest in “problem-ing”? I would contend that this is a performance issue above all other performance issues. Hence, the need for the CEO to lead.

Not saying this is an easy process, the ability to recognize and anticipate what a particular set of buyers will likely need and help them come to the conclusion that this is the underlying problem anchoring their cross-functional pain is a very difficult exercise, but the first step in solving a problem is recognizing AND getting agreement from the team that this is your problem. I would even contend that this is half the battle. Do you have this problem?

Matthew Rosenhaft

Matthew is a Social Marketing Executive and is co-founder of Social Gastronomy, LLC and the Social Executive Council. Prior to founding Social Gastronomy, Matthew has over 18 years’ experience as an executive in marketing, product management, and sales. Matthew has an extensive background in the SaaS Software, Social Media, Mobile, IT Services, and Telecom industries. He has prior entrepreneurial experience as a founder and executive in several early-stage venture-backed technology companies, as well as, holds several US patents for a mobile marketing technology. Matthew is a prominent blogger and regular industry speaker on social marketing and strategy topics. Matthew’s blog can be found at For more information on Matthew, you can check out his LinkedIn profile at or contact him directly at