Convincing The CFO To Fund Your CRM System

By Geoffrey James

One of the biggest challenges sales managers face when trying to acquire CRM technology is convincing the CFO to fork over the funding. Sales managers who want their fair share of their firms’ IT dollars must convince their CFOs that a CRM investment makes sound financial sense. According to an exclusive interview with Erin Kinikin, vice president for CRM at Forrester Research, there are five keys to accomplishing this.

1. Take ownership of the issue. If you’re going to make your case to the CFO you’ll need a clear vision of what you want to accomplish and how you plan to use CRM to close more sales. Don’t rely on the IT group’s promise to make CRM part of their corporatewide IT initiative.

2. Keep it simple. Don’t burden the CFO with a complex discussion of features and functions. Instead, seize on a particular aspect of the sales process that CRM will make more productive and then build the case for the funding around that concept. A side advantage is that focusing on a limited aspect of the sales process is more likely to prove successful than an overarching let’s-fix-everything-at-once strategy.

3. Make the CFO’s job easier. Emphasize the important data the CRM system will supply the CFO that will make it easier for him or her to do forecasting and revenue reporting. Don’t go overboard and promise the CFO too much, however, or you might end up burdening the sales force with extra data entry.

4. Plan to measure appropriately. Your CFO is more likely to cough up funding if you make it clear you’re going to measure important metrics, such as return on investment, customer retention rates and the total amount of sales coming from the average customer.

5. Don’t ask for too much. Focusing on what’s really important often means purchasing less technology but using it more effectively. Identify what you’re trying to accomplish and how you’ll need to work with other groups in your firm to accomplish it. That way you retain control over costs and will have a higher potential for project success.