Close the CFO: Five Must-Dos for Finance-Reviewed Deals

Sep 6, 2023

Selling to the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has become a necessity for every sales professional. Regardless of your historical buyer persona, the CFO is now a crucial decision-maker in the sales process. 

Budgets have continued to tighten with on-going economic uncertainty. Companies want to control costs to counter slowing growth. So finance departments are scrutinizing every aspect of every deal. 

If this is new territory for you, that’s okay. Here are five essential steps sellers can take to significantly improve the chances of successfully closing a CFO-reviewed deal. 

1. Be Prepared with Precise ROI Calculations

The foundation of any successful CFO-reviewed deal will be air-tight Return on Investment (ROI) calculations. It goes without saying that your ROI calculations have to align seamlessly with your prospect’s financial objectives.

Ensure that both you and your buyer or champion can recite these figures flawlessly. Train them thoroughly, ensuring they can communicate the ROI as effectively as you can. This collaborative approach not only enhances your credibility but also provides a united front when presenting to the CFO.

Top-performing sales professionals often go the extra mile by crafting custom ROI calculators, often developed with direct input and buy-in from key decision-makers. Your ROI calculator should be tailored to their specific needs, focusing on the metrics that matter most to them. This customization demonstrates your commitment to delivering tangible value. Allowing for customization of key inputs from the CFO and economic buyer will also build credibility by giving them flexibility to change assumptions.

2. Always Come Back to the ROI

Every interaction with your prospect is an opportunity to reinforce the value and ROI of your solution. During routine check-in calls, use ROI figures to remind your prospect of the benefits they stand to gain from your solution. Emphasize the impact on their bottom line and make sure everyone involved comprehends the consequences of delaying the decision.

If a deal hits a roadblock or stalls, refocus the conversation on ROI calculations. Highlight the negative consequences of further delay and reiterate the value your solution brings. This can rekindle interest and drive the deal forward.

3. Do Your Research

To impress a CFO, you have to be armed with comprehensive knowledge about their company and industry. Research is paramount, especially when dealing with public companies. 

When selling to public companies, study the transcripts of their last four earnings calls, paying close attention to the company’s outlook and priorities. This information will help you align your value proposition with their immediate needs and long-term objectives. (If you haven’t already, make sure these metrics are accounted for in your ROI calculator.)

You can also network and reach out to sellers who have experience with your prospect’s organization. Other reps can offer valuable guidance and insight into the company’s buying process. At RepVue, we’ve seen how the sales community often exhibits a high degree of altruism — frankly, it’s awesome. Other sellers are an incredibly valuable resource for information.

4. Prepare for Heightened Contract Scrutiny

Don’t be surprised when CFO-reviewed contracts face increased scrutiny. While procurement teams are certainly thorough, CFOs will meticulously examine every contract term. (That auto-renew clause that normally sails through probably won’t this time.) Be prepared to be more flexible in certain areas to accommodate their requirements.

CFOs prioritize financial stability and risk management. They are likely to focus on contract terms related to payment schedules, termination clauses, and financial guarantees. Be prepared to address their concerns in these areas.

Some concessions may be necessary to secure the deal. A willingness to adapt contract terms can be a significant factor in winning CFO approval. Be open to negotiations and be ready to find mutually beneficial solutions.

5. Additional Calls and Extended Sales Cycles

Selling to CFOs will often require additional calls and engagement with higher levels of leadership within the organization. This extended sales cycle demands careful planning and adjustments to your forecasts.

Be prepared to pitch directly to someone in the finance department. The CFO may want to hear from you personally to gain a deeper understanding of your solution’s financial implications.

In many cases, CFOs will involve additional levels of leadership in the decision-making process. Adjust your sales forecasts to account for this longer sales cycle. What was once a 55-day cycle may now stretch to 70 days or more.

Preparation = Success

By mastering ROI calculations, leveraging them effectively, conducting in-depth research, navigating complex contracts, and anticipating additional calls, you can significantly enhance your success rate with CFO-reviewed deals.

The good news is that when you can demonstrate the ROI of your solution, deals are more likely to close successfully. The danger lies in being ill-prepared to communicate and sell the ROI effectively. Sellers who have prior experience selling to finance have an advantage, but for those not yet in that category, it’s crucial to fast-track your skills and expertise in this increasingly critical area of sales.

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