051: 3 Mistakes I've Made on CFO Calls

June 30, 2023

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June 30, 2023
Read time: 2:56 minutes  

I've been studying my firm's past CFO calls lately. 

I observed a few non-obvious mistakes that resulted in the calls going sideways.

I'm going to share 3 of those mistakes with you today. My hope is that you can avoid them so your calls are home runs!

Let's dive in...

Let Them Talk To Kick Off The Call

At the start of your CFO call, just after the "Hey! How's it going?" small talk, ask the client if they have anything on their mind.

The temptation is to jump straight into your CFO report - but this is ill advised. Because if your client has pressing issues or questions in mind, they aren't dialed in to you.

Think about it...

If you and I hop on a call and I jump straight into declining gross profit margin, but you just: 

✅ Lost a crucial employee
✅ Got declined for the big SBA loan
✅ Picked up 2 huge clients that change your revenue story

Are you going to be super dialed into what I'm saying about GPM?

• You want to share the big news.
• Get perspective on what just happened.
• Or maybe you just need to process it out loud.

It's human behavior and psychology: people want to feel heard. 

Be the person that hears your client!

Now, all that said, you have to keep the CFO call on the rails. Give your client space to talk about whatever. But also remember that they're paying you to go through your CFO report. So there's a balance here.

I like to keep this part of the call to 5 minutes or less, generally speaking.

Connect Your Advice To Their Goals

As you progress through your CFO call, you're sure to have advice and action items for the client.

Some of those things will be small.
Some of those things will be significant.

Regardless, the client wants to know what's in it for them. The best way to do that is to tie your advice back to their goals.

Let me explain this in the form of a math equation.
"It's important that we do X so that Y."


X = your advice
Y = client's goal


It's important that we have that tough pricing conversation with the vendor so that we can get gross profit margins up to 53%. Remember, that 3% increase in GPM will give us all the extra cash flow we need to hire the new director of sales. That'sg oing to reduce your workload so you can go on the family vacation this summer.

No one wants to have a tough conversation with the vendor about pricing!

It feels all confrontational and awkward. 
🚫 "Pass."

But my wife will kill me if I'm taking sales calls again on the family vacation. Must hire director of sales.
✅ "I'm in!"

Kill The Ambiguity

When you wrap up your CFO call, remember to review action items. 

This is where I see things go sideways...

Also make sure everyone knows:

WHO is doing 
WHAT and by 

Most people only recap the WHAT:

"OK, so we all agree that we've got to talk to have some tough price negotiations with the vendor ASAP so we can get GPM up 3%."

The result?

By next month's call, the conversation with the vendor never happened. 

👉 The CEO assumed that the director of ops was going to have the talk. 
👉 The director of ops assumed YOU were going to have the talk. 
👉 You don't talk to client vendors, so why would anyone think you were going to start now?

Chaos is certain to ensue!

A little leadership here goes a long way.

"OK Amanda. By the 15th of this coming month, you'll have a chat with the vendor about pricing. Remember, we need a 10% reduction in price so we can get GPM up 3%. The new director of sales hire is riding on it. Get with Jeff if you need any help." 

My team calls this S.A.M.E.

Set And Manage Expectations


Always remember that, for better or for worse, your clients are people.

And people want to feel heard, they care about their goals, and they want to know what to expect.

Structure your calls accordingly 😀

Whenever you are ready, here are 3 ways I can help you:

1. The Inner Circle - every month my team and I go live and share the most impactful lessons we've learned in our journey to start, scale, and optimize our own CFO firm (including live Q&A). Plus you'll get access to our private community of nearly 150 fractional CFOs.

2. The CFO Academy - This is a 7 week deep dive into the exact playbooks that I use to run my firm, KFE Solutions. If you're serious about scaling faster (and doing it the right way), this is for you.

3. If you'd like more amazing (and free!) content about starting, scaling, or optimizing your Fractional CFO firm check out: 
→ The CFO Report on YouTube (if you love video)
→ The CFO Report on Apple Podcast (if you prefer audio)

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