Businesses play an essential role in shaping the world around us, and this happens through the collaborative efforts of executives and the workforce.
Collaboration results in the development of products and services that make life easy for the people, driving the market, and indirectly leading to economic growth. While the workforce is directly engaged in company operations, executives make important decisions to ensure all goes well.
While it might be comparatively easy to convince some executives to make a purchasing decision by demonstrating a product’s utility and the market prospects, that’s not the case with a chief financial officer (CFO).
The accounts and finance people don’t rely on ideas and creativity. CFOs deal with the monetary prospects and consider numbers and projections to decide the worthiness of a deal. After all, in the end, the deal is supposed to bring in profit.
Because a CFO is a senior executive of a company that is responsible for making financial decisions, they have a lot on their plate. CFOs track a company’s investments, debts, and returns – or cash flows in general. They also check for inconsistencies and make decisions to correct errors head on.
For a CFO, projections, financial plans, and reports matter more than other aspects of the product, which makes it a hard task to convince them to make a deal.
How to help convince a CFO to buy what you’re selling
Think you have what it takes to sell to a CFO? Let’s learn the eight ways to convince your CFO to buy in.
1. Don’t bore them with your pitch
CFOs worry about your organization’s financial position. Their objectives don’t necessarily include anything unrelated directly to money, which means you have to speak in dollars and cents.
If you want to keep your CFO engaged, make sure your presentation doesn’t fall flat. Do you really think presenting a product’s “amazing features” is going to strike their interest? Unlikely.
So, to make your pitch work, find the most relevant information to share with your CFO. They care most about information involving money, cost savings, revenue generation, and more. This is where their heart is. If it seems that the deal is bringing them money or saving them money, chances of them agreeing to it increase significantly.
2. Conduct in-depth research
While there are some general figures that a business/ product developer is supposed to demonstrate before a CFO, it’s always beneficial to show the executive what he might want to see. And how do we know that? By conducting proper research. Executives and high officials always praise people who do their homework.
Different CFOs have different views on the finances of their companies. Knowing where the interests of the CFO lies might help gather the information that they are looking for.
We can determine the interests by looking at the articles that they endorse or write. Looking at the company’s annual report also gives ideas on the financial matter that concerns the organization itself.
3. Focus on saving money
CEOs are responsible for making corporate decisions and managing operations and resources and overseeing the entire company.
CMOs are responsible for brand management, market research, product marketing, and managing a marketing team.
CFOs, on the other hand, are mainly concerned about cost reduction across the board. Thus, focusing on cost-saving aspects of the product or service you’re pitching should be your main consideration. In the case that your product/service costs less than that which they’re currently using, you’ll have an advantage off the bat.
In the case that your product doesn’t have a monetary advantage, building a presentation that demonstrates how your services save time (equating “time is money”), you could go that route as well.
4. Be crisp and concise
People love to tell stories. But the problem with storytelling is that too much detail could derail the conversation, boring the audience on the other end. If you want to keep a CFO engaged, get to the point and remove unnecessary details during the presentation.
Irrelevant information makes an audience lose track of the objective (why you’re there), wastes time (which is money), and often leaves them drained, not interested in whatever it is you’re selling.
To make sure your presentation is interesting and compelling, keep it concise. Provide only the relevant information with detailed financial analyses, reports, and models. Summarize the pertinent information to help the CFO understand the foundational analysis. If they want more details later on, feel free to share additional information with them at that time.
5. Be realistic in your approach
Often, a new product/service you’re pitching can be a new, innovative idea that doesn’t have a lot of competition, which might sound appealing, but could be a reason to pause for a CFO.
You might be providing the most detailed “industry information” around, but much of the assumptions and analysis done to reach financial estimates are often based on hypothetical scenarios given the lack of existing market and comparable examples.
The problem with this? Conclusions based on hypothetical cases are highly prone to risks, and risks are bad for business. To combat this, make an effort to draw up conclusions from reasonable logic and reliable data. Prepare some real-world case studies that work on a similar financial model, whether within the market for your product/service or for a similar niche.
6. Offer clear objectivity
When you present data to the executive team – especially a CFO – it’s important for it to be unbiased and sourced from a third party. All analyses and assumptions must be backed by reliable data, preferably unbiased case studies or external resources to instill trust and confidence that you are being transparent with your approach.
Reliable information factors into financial decisions, since these can be make or break for a business. Present facts and data cross-checked by a third party before using this information in your pitch.
7. Choose the right advisor
The thought of reaching out to investors and attending a meeting with them makes people nervous. At times, the burden to develop and organize appropriate data, documents, and pitch the plan can be overwhelming for some people.
This is why you need an advisor to help with the process. An intermediary with quality experience can offer a wealth of support when preparing your pitch. Get in touch with suitable advisors who are experienced in project funding processes to take some of the pressure off of your mind.
8. Expect the unexpected
Financial transactions and decisions at a big scale take time, and they rarely go smoothly. A deal that seems to be progressing well can suddenly go awry, and a deal going poorly might find a silver lining. The point is: deals can take unexpected turns at any time, and you should be mentally prepared to tackle the situation regardless of its progression. Focus on long-term goals rather than worrying about small setbacks.
CFOs are data-driven executives, and convincing them can be difficult. However, it will go considerably smoother if you do your research, prepare appropriate data, and focus on the points discussed above. If you approach the situation with facts and data, intelligence, and the motivation to pursue long-term goals, you’ll go in confidently, ready to sell.