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How to sell to finance leaders: 4 tips from Gong CFO Tim Ritters

May 15, 2024
Dan Morgese

Dan Morgese

Director, Content Strategy and Research

Sales Leadership Selling Skills

In today’s uncertain economic climate, organizations are tasked to do more with less. With increased scrutiny on new purchases, CFOs were twice as likely to be included in the buying group in 2023. 

This year, CFOs are closely watching their tech spend – over 70% are prioritizing cost optimization, according to a recent Gartner survey. “In general, investors now expect us to be more efficient with our dollars,” shares Tim Ritters, Chief Financial Officer at Gong.

As a seller, it’s your job to convince finance leaders that your product is a cut above the rest and worth the money. But sealing the deal is easier said than done. 

During a recent AMA webinar, we chatted with Tim about how to successfully sell to CFOs. Here are the top four takeaways: 

1. Craft engaging outreach

Looking to grab the CFO’s attention from the get-go? 

Write a catchy subject line and avoid fluffy value props. 

CFOs get hundreds of emails daily, so the subject line is your chance to capture their attention and start a conversation. “We manage our emails by the subject line, so you have to hook us,” shares Tim.

Tim recommends using specific and direct subject lines. For example, he recently received an email with a subject line that stated how much money Gong could save on FICA taxes by working with the sender’s company. A clear hook tied to the bottom line piqued Tim’s interest.

Customization breaks the noise – be sure to quantify your impact. 

2. Build a solid business case

Once you’ve captured your prospect’s attention, you can keep it by presenting a standout business case.

A successful business case hinges on understanding why your prospect is looking for a solution. Tim believes there are four reasons people buy technology, so your solution should map to at least one of these areas (if not multiple!).

  1. Increased revenue
  2. Decreased cost
  3. Improved risk management
  4. Improved customer experience

“If you’re not in one of the four buckets, you’re going to have a tough time selling to CFOs,” says Tim. 

Once you know the “why,” you can clearly define the ROI of your product, including both the cost and return on the investment. This might sound obvious, “but surprisingly few proposals include the ‘R’,” shares Tim. 

When articulating ROI, consider hard costs vs. soft costs. Time savings can be a valuable metric, but only when presented in relation to the bottom line. “Time-saving by itself is not enough,” shares Tim. For example, if your solution makes sellers more productive, quantify how much money your prospect could potentially save by hiring fewer reps.

If you’re interested in learning more about the ROI metrics that CFOs care about most check out our free guide.

3. Find and empower internal champions 

With a business case in hand, it’s time to identify your champion. Buy-in from internal stakeholders can be the linchpin for securing the coveted CFO signature. 

If stakeholders at the company are excited and informed about your product capabilities, they’re more likely to help push the deal forward. If they’re on the fence, then you’re probably not going to convince the CFO. The way we buy as consumers is no different. You’re more likely to trust a clothing recommendation from a friend than a promotional email from a brand.

Once you’ve secured your champion, equip them with ROI figures they can present to their CFO. A proposal directly from an internal stakeholder carries more weight than when presented by a vendor. “The first thing I do when a business case lands on my desk is turn to a trusted advisor on my team,” shares Tim. 

(To take the guesswork out of enabling your champion, we put together this CFO letter template you can use on your next deal.)

4. Drive renewals by showcasing results

You closed the deal and a year has flown by. Now, it’s time for the renewal discussion. 

With a focus on efficient growth, it’s necessary to present how your solution has met – or ideally exceeded – expectations that were set during the initial buying conversations. Showcasing your solution’s value is a clear path toward renewal. 

Tim evaluates renewal contracts based on ROI and usage. If the team is paying for 100 seats and only 50 are being used, then it’s unlikely he’ll consider renewing the contract at the same price. 

If CFOs don’t see a return on their investment, they’re not going to renew, especially in these challenging economic times. 

Stand out from the crowd

While CFO involvement adds extra hurdles to your deals, Tim’s CFO-approved tactics ensure you stay on track to finish – and win – the race. 

By clearly articulating expected ROI, empowering your internal champions, and quantifying your solution’s impact, you can close more deals and win more renewals. 

Want even more tips? Watch the complete AMA with Tim.

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