14 November 2011

Finding Common Ground Between CFO and COO–Part 9


So, what are the keys to constructing irrefusable offers (Mafia offers)?

Market segmentation

The CFO and COO must come to understand the key components that go into their trading partners’ experience and what their trading partners view as improved results. More importantly, they must begin to see that different trading partners or different market segments have different experiences and seek different improved results.

In order to get a better understanding of how to segment your market, the CFO and COO should employ a combination of market analytics (business intelligence) and tools to unlock “tribal knowledge” from within the organization itself.

Un-Refusable Offers

As the figure above suggests, different target markets will find value in differing aspects of “the offer.” Some will find the value in a product’s ability to be customized or adapted to their specific application. Others will find greater value in how the product is delivered (speed or online). Still others will find greater value in intangibles such as VMI (vendor-managed inventory) or the ability to receive small, more frequent shipments,while achieving the same price-breaks as larger orders. It is impossible to know until the CFO and COO take time to analyze and understand how and why they sell—or fail to sell—into various markets.


Another factor concerning which the CFO and COO must come to agreement regards the firm’s capabilities. What can be done within the firm’s capabilities to supply an improved customer experience for various segments of the market? In addition, what can be done—still within the firm’s capabilities—to help assure that the customers in various market segments are getting better results than the competition is delivering?

Understand that, until the firm’s various market segments are understood clearly, it is impossible to even formulate the right questions around “capabilities” and how to apply them toward the creation of irrefusable offers.

Creating an operating partnership with your customers

The really great and long-lasting irrefusable offers stand above the rest because they create a durable competitive advantage for both the vendor and the customer. The offer brings your firm and your customer’s firm into an operating “partnership” that produces better—and improving—results for your customers while increasing your own firm’s Throughput and profits. This combination makes three very happy parties—the CFO, the COO and the customer(s) involved.

This may mean the such irrefusable offers may sometimes need to be tendered to the customer at a higher level than the typical “buyer.” Creating and presenting the offer may involve the CFO and COO in joint discussions with their counterparts in the customer’s organization, where the value of the irrefusable offer may be more fully understood and appreciated.

Establishing these offers and resulting agreements at higher levels knits the customer’s management team with you—the vendor’s management team—in a way that makes it increasingly difficult to dislodge the vendor from the customer’s new way of doing business. Customer loyalty becomes a strong factor at this point, and the number of “touches” between the customer and the vendor tend to increase over time.

[To be continued…]

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