How to Talk to the CFO about Investing to Improve Global Trade Processes

Persuasive presentations can create enterprise-wide change


McKinsey, which recently analyzed goods manufactured for consumption in the U.S. market and mapped them to the optimal region to manufacture them in 2003 and then again in 2008. They compared China (as an offshore example), Mexico (as a near-shore example) and the U.S. In just five years, the optimal country to manufacture four of the five commodities changed – an 80 percent shift; and, finally,

Aberdeen Group, whose “The CFO’s Agenda for Global Trade Benchmark Report” is the information source for the story above.

Linking easy-to-understand, relevant examples to company objectives, industry trends and national studies, helps make the executive presentation credible and powerful.

4. Quantify Risks

U.S. importers can obtain their transactional import data from the U.S. government with minimal cost and effort. An effective audit of a company’s transactional data provides a framework for identifying and quantifying hidden and unnecessary costs. Rigorous analysis of transactional data provides visibility to the corrective actions required to produce critical improvements and free literally millions of dollars in unnecessary costs from a business’s global supply chain – the very costs identified by Aberdeen Group.

Quantitative analytics:

Are based on fact

Provide visibility

Provide objective data

Help leaders assess risks and opportunities

Help leaders make informed decisions to fund initiatives that create significant returns

Help leaders create well organized plans to fix problems

Help companies compete more effectively

5. Edit

Be brutal. Scrap every insignificant concept and delete every extraneous word gathered during the research phase. Prepare a 10-minute, well-organized presentation. The broad base of research will help to answer questions and get into the details if requested. During the executive presentation, any extra clutter will be a distraction.

It is helpful to organize a presentation into these three buckets:

Measure: Describe current state, identify missed savings and other risks to the company.

Assess: Draw conclusions based on facts, define timelines, identify needed resources and calculate the return on investment (ROI) from funding various projects.

Invest: Present the business case and ask for executive approval to stop losing money everywhere the ROI meets the company’s metrics.

6. Perform

Imagine casting a movie and seeking someone to play the role of a visionary, rising through the ranks to single-handedly change their company from an average industry performer to a global powerhouse.

How would the actor dress for the performance?

How would he or she sound?

How confident would the actor appear in executive meetings presenting a vision of the future?

In movies and theater, actors “become the character” by studying and then performing how “real” people dress, sound and behave in certain circumstances.

This practice can be used to deliver exceptional executive presentations. Read about and learn from admirable executives and practice performing how they might perform – invest emotionally in the performance.

Remember that when asking an executive to listen to a business case and authorize action, one has to perform like a leader worth believing in and following. Be sure to define the current state with real-life examples, provide a clear vision of the desired outcome, describe persuasively what is needed to get from here to there, and give the performance of a lifetime.

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