Selling to CFOs

14 Feb 2023

  1. Understand what CFOs Care About

We care a lot about adoption. We have all been burned by software not used or consulting expense not spent wisely. We need to know “Will the value be realized from the spend?”
This is why an internal champion is critical. You may never meet with me directly because I need to hear from the internal champion that he/she will own driving a successful outcome (including adoption). Sellers, prep your champion to articulate the value – and their commitment- to the CFO. if they are not willing to go to bat for you with the CFO, you don't have a champion.
Because adoption is so critical, experienced CFOs know support and services matter. We will try to get them for free first but we will (begrudgingly) pay for them.
Even with an internal champion, it helps to have strong references from similar companies. The CFO community is tight and that can make a difference.

  1. Negotiating

CFOs know that price rarely expires, be careful with deadlines. Only use the term "final price" when it's truly final, or you'll lose your credibility (and likeability).
To avoid constant negotiations, test your champion on pricing - “Before I go to my boss to ask for this pricing, will you commit to signing at this offer? I don’t want to lose my credibility.”
Find out if procurement needs their pound of flesh and if so, save something in the negotiation for procurement.

  1. If you are interacting with the CFO

We are busy. No long emails. Send materials in advance so we can review.
Make sure your contact info is easily accessible, including phone number. Be very responsive.
Timing matters. Don’t come to us last minute. One of my favorite CFOs taught me this: “Your lack of preparedness does not constitute an emergency for me.” Also, try to avoid the time between quarter close and earnings – we are swamped.
Show up like you are a top professional - Avoid typos, dress professionally (even on zoom), and have a professional background (I love the virtual bookcase!).
You belong in the room, act like it!