Today’s CFO Is a ‘Chaperone for Investment Dollars’

Today’s CFO Is ‘Chaperone for Investment Dollars’

Chief financial officers (CFOs) used to be controllers, whose primary job was making sure the books got closed on time without any errors.

Today, a CFO’s role is to be a “chaperone for investment dollars,” Sprinklr CFO Manish Sarin told PYMNTS. They are now expected to determine where the company should invest, articulate the reasons to investors and explain the incremental return that the company will derive.

“The best way to think about a CFO’s role is you need to be able to convince your colleagues to see things your way, you need to go sell the vision to Wall Street, you need to set all the controls internally to make it all happen, and you need to have a crystal ball that better be very clear in terms of what you’re telling investors and what’s happening internally,” Sarin said.

Entering a New Market

Sarin joined Sprinklr in January with more than 20 years of experience scaling high-growth technology companies. He aims to do the same at Sprinklr, a publicly traded company that provides enterprise software for all customer-facing functions.

“Our tools help brands and companies engage with their clients and do it in such a way where they can pick up sentiment versus just the words of what’s being said,” Sarin said. “That allows them to take action that they wouldn’t have taken otherwise.”

One item on the agenda is developing consumption-based models and payments for midmarket companies. Already serving some of the biggest brands in the world — half of the Fortune 500 are clients — Sprinklr is now entering this sector, which the company calls “Vector 2.”

“For some of these freemium — if you want to call it — or self-service products for Vector 2, I’m not sure the right answer is, ‘Let me send them an invoice,’” Sarin said. “They are wanting to pay fast. They want to pay on a consumption basis — download, install, use and pay.”

With customers all over the globe, Sprinklr already accommodates demands for different payment methods, such as the mobile payments popular in India. Adding new tools for billing or invoicing is another project, aiming to automate more of the process as Sprinklr adds more midmarket companies.

Upselling and Cross-Selling

The company has also been driving growth with a broader product set. Today, two-thirds of its new business comes from upselling and cross-selling into its installed base.

“We’ve managed to grow subscriptions because customers like what they’ve bought the first time, there’s four product suites and there’s a multitude of [stock-keeping units] within each — there’s a total of 30, 31 products,” Sarin said. “So, we are able to go back, demonstrate value, go back, upsell more, cross-sell more — that’s what’s selling subscriptions over the last several quarters.”

As a company focused on software for customer-facing functions, it’s perhaps not surprising that Sprinklr doesn’t just use email and chat to communicate with its 3,245 employees. It uses all the modern communication channels to make sure people understand what needs to get done and what the priorities are in the company.

“We’re trying to do that some in the age-old processes and some trying to do a whole bunch of town halls and all-hands and blasts of information and so on — so it’s all of the above,” Sarin said.

Communicating with investors is an important part of Sarin’s role at Sprinklr too. With the current upheavals in both the financial markets and the world, investors naturally have a lot of questions.

“There’s obviously a ton of scrutiny not just from public investors but also our board about where we are spending our dollars, whether this is the right way to spend, should we be pulling back on certain things — so, all that has kept me very busy, and these are some fascinating questions to get answered in a very short period of time,” Sarin said.