If you sell business analytics services, chances are you target the CIOs of end customers. But did you know you will also need to sell to customer CFOs, too? It’s true.

Selling to CFOs can sometimes be tricky.

While CIOs are the enablers of business analytics and data functions, CFOs are stakeholders as well. What is more, CFOs have different motivations, capabilities and responsibilities than CIOs. Take staffing.

It is often the employees under the CFO who work with data most frequently and who have most data analysis talent within their organizations. In addition, CFOs have vested interest in how their data can be used to improve efficiencies within the organization, not to mention how they can be leveraged to reduce costs.

The CFOs’ role has also expanded over the past few years to be more strategic and tightly aligned with the CEO and his or her overall business objectives. More and more, I find that CFOs focused on the following:

  1. Compliance and risk mitigation
  2. Long-term financial planning and reporting
  3. Growth and globalization challenges
  4. External factors that may impact their business

So what questions should you be prepared to answer when talking to the CFO? Below are several.

Why is outsourcing business analytics a good idea? Outsourcing the management of your analytics software to experts helps your company maximize the value of your software investment. External experts keep abreast of the latest changes and functionality of the software and can advise your team when new functionality is available to help find, aggregate and present data that might be meaningful to your business. You can redeploy your internal talent to analyze the results and make recommendations to the business. With all of operational issues off of their plate, you can use your high-priced analysts to interpret the results rather than worry about the functionality of your software.

Will outsourcing help with operational planning? CFOs, experts note, routinely use most of the data gathered from their operations, supply chains, production processes, and customer interactions. They are already using analytics to better determine the areas where their businesses are strong, in other words, and where they need to improve. Finding inefficiencies in a business and reducing the gap of lost profit requires a blend of skills covering technological know-how, analytical insights and industry-specific knowledge. The combination of these skills is difficult to find and retain internally. However it can be found in business analytics service providers.

How does outsourcing help the company grow?  As markets evolve, employees don’t always know what is happening or even accept that change is occurring until it is too late. In addition, the velocity of change in analytics across organizations seems to be accelerating. For example, analyzing customer behavior is one of the most important goals of Big Data. By analyzing customer data, CFOs are now able to see emerging trends within their customer base and better understand where to invest, where to partner and where to pull back based on real customer data. It is a lot easier to convince management teams that a change in direction is needed based on real data rather than intuition. Managed service providers see these changes across industries every day and are able to help guide you through the process.

How will outsourcing help me better understand external factors? Outsourcing can help CFOs gain insight faster than what internal teams can achieve. External partners are virtually freed of internal politics and personal agendas and can move faster. The insight gained helps to  make better and faster business decisions to improve customer acquisition and retention, assess risk, reduce operational costs, and/or track key financial indicators. CFOs can use data in context of global events to better understand how a worldwide crisis or emerging trend can affect the company—and how to better plan for them next time.

Business analytics is much more than just technology or achieving a financial return on technology. Rather, business analytics is a multi-level decision support platform that helps companies remain competitive in this fast paced competitive global environment. CFOs play a critical role in helping a company remain competitive.

Know the questions the CFO will ask before you start selling your business analytics.