COO and CFO Questions

Yesterday, I spoke the executive team and business unit leads at a very large insurance company. It was a long 4-hour session, where I gave a Groundswell presentation, discussed technographics, and gave specific case examples of their insurance industry and financial industry. It’s not my job to evangelize social media, but to tell them about the benefits and risks, and how it impacts their business, or if it doesn’t.

As you’ve seen from my recent post, there are few successes in the insurance industry. While every company must listen, the return on participating may not be right for every company and industry.

I’ve been doing these types of presentations since 2005, so I’m pretty used to the hurdle questions, and am always pleased to meet COO and CFO folks that have a solid business mind, and need to know how social media impacts business.

While many industries like tech, media and some consumer product companies have embraced this movement, many industries. If you’re going to be presenting to your executive staff or to clients, be prepared to answer the following questions, and back them up with data, examples, and insight, not just opinion:

Is this a fad?
What’s the future of these tools?
What are the costs and resources needed to do this?
Does every employee need to participate?
What’s the legal ramifications?
What happens if we do nothing?
What are the risks if we engage?
How do we measure success?
Does this hurt or help customers?
How does this increase revenues or reduce costs?

Simply put, the primary goal of business is about making money, so if you’re proposing a shift in resources, you better be able to back it up. It’s absolutely important that someone in the org challenges you, so you’ll need to be prepared. Lastly, for what’s it’s worth, despite the tough questions, the COO mentioned to me during the break the workshop was going well, and he told me he was actually a techie too, I can’t wait to get a beer with him next time, smart guy.