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4 ways CIOs can speak better CFO

Kristin Burnham | Nov. 13, 2015
Meetings with your CFO don’t need to be intimidating. Here’s what you need to do to leave with the money you need.

“It’s all about the dollars and what the solution does, not about how the sausage is made,” he says. “If they ask you a technical question, answer it simply; you don’t need to go into rate configurations and fiber channels. If you overload them with information, they’ll shut down.” 

If you’re struggling with a pitch for a particularly technical solution, try rehearsing it in front of someone who’s not very technical, Schoen advises. “Find a family member to practice on if this is something you’re worried about, like you’re uncle who’s still on AOL,” he says. “Gauge which parts of your pitch he has a difficult time understanding, and find a better way to communicate it if you need to.” 

4. Make the CFO decide 

When you present your options, give the CFO the illusion that he or she is making the decision, Schoen says. 

“This is a huge part of it. Phrase it this way: How much money do you want to lose? If we have a catastrophic failure, we’ll be down 10 hours and losing $15,000 per hour. We could pay $24,000 to be back up in 24 hours, or we can be back up in 15 minutes—but it’s going to cost more,” he says. “Giving them options that are skewed toward the best solution makes things easier for the CFO because they feel they’ve been part of the process and they’ve chosen the best option—and you get the solution that you want.”


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