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Selling to the CFO, the Brennan IT way

Hafizah Osman | June 9, 2017
Traditionally viewed as the toughest sell of all, here’s how can the channel can change tack when negotiating with the CFO.

"The difference is that the workloads and applications that we're supporting now take so many more parts of the business from an end-to- end perspective," he explained.

"It's meant that the decision making process for organisations has become more complex, which goes beyond both the CIO and CFO."

In representing one of the country's leading IT service providers - with over 1,000 customers nationwide - Barlow acknowledged that technology sales today continue to be challenged by a partner's ability to capture the wider consensus of the C-Suite.

"Generally, there are stakeholders across every aspect of an organisation with usually around six or seven involved in the buying process, and the CFO is one of those stakeholders," he added.

It's a sentiment backed up by Taylor, who said C-level executive involvement varies from business to business.

For example, for partners dealing with an organisation that views IT as a cost to the business, deals would naturally flow through to the CFO.

However, those that consider IT as an enabler are more likely to channel deals from the CIO through to the CEO, creating new sales dynamics as a result.

As CFO and overseer of internal operations, Taylor holds responsibility for IT within LifeHealthcare, and is viewed as a key influencer in the entire buying process.

"But the approval process also requires buy-in from the executive team and the board for it to be successful," he added.

"There's never a sole decision maker. If there was, it would create a level of risk around the right decision being made. The actual go or no-go decision doesn't come down to the CFO anymore, it's more of a consensus decision."


Changing the conversation

In light of the role of the CFO becoming stronger from a technology buying perspective, Taylor insisted conversations with solution providers must become stronger as a result.

"The role of the CFO has evolved to becoming more commercial rather than just compliance based," Taylor explained. "Those two requirements are merging."

With efficiency a key requirement for finance, Taylor said LifeHealthcare priorities focus on achieving operational efficiency, transactional efficiency and automation, resulting in the simplification of processes.

The end result for Taylor, is a conversation that is more commercially focused than before.

"IT tends to get lost within the technology," he added. "It's now less about the technology, but they need to learn how that technology can assist the business to operate more efficiently.

"Technology, unfortunately, is one of those things that you can't see the direct benefit of - it tends to be more indirect."

Through the eyes of the channel, Barlow explained the importance of partners understanding the internal buying methodology of any organisation they are selling IT services into.


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