Negotiation Techniques for the Savvy CFO

Howard Tepper, CFO of Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine

Whether you’re the CFO or member of the company board, it can be difficult to negotiate effectively when you’re outgunned at the table. However, even if the consensus is currently against your vantage point, CFOs have the responsibility of presenting the financial strategy that is in the best interests of the company.

Meet Howard Tepper, who is the chief financial officer at the Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine located at the world-renowned Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, NY. While Tepper is certainly responsible for the number crunching, he plays a major role in the IT decisions that are made. Why? Because he understands the synergy between financial, corporate, and technological strategy. Before an IT deal is made, Tepper must approve it and is generally the executive that signs it.

However, despite his influence, Tepper doesn’t always get his way – at least not easily. It can be difficult for any CFO to negotiate terms of a deal or contract, especially when the chair of the department involved has a differing opinion. Still, CFOs such as Tepper have been known to sway minds if they can effectively make their point.

To successfully negotiate a difficult deal, remember that:

  • Preparation is everything. The more statistics and information that you can have about the market value and the prospective deal, the easier time you’ll have making a substantial case. There’s a wealth of internal information that CFOs can assimilate, but the internet has opened the door to other research opportunities as well. Time spent on the onset to defend a position is time well spent.
  • It’s important to understand the dynamic nature of the negotiation. Remember, it’s not always about “winning.” You can’t always get your demands as CFO, so sometimes you have to accept that you just want to close the deal with the terms as close to your ideal as possible. Trying too hard to “win” can result in a failed deal or strained business relationship.
  • Uncertainty can be your advantage. Even if you don’t know all the information since the marketplace is an uncertain beast, the more information you have on your side, the easier it will be to leverage uncertainty to make your case.