16 November 2011

Finding Common Ground Between CFO and COO–Part 10


Un-Refusable Offers


Some key factors in creating Irrefusable Offers

What are some of the key elements that should be considered by the CFO and COO when creating “Mafia Offers”?

Well, if the CFO and COO have come to properly understand their market and market segmentation through analytics (simple is better), the next step is to unlock “tribal knowledge” within the organization so the customer’s experience and customer’s desired results are clearly understood for each market segment. If necessary, that may mean identifying a market segment constituted of only one customer.

Make the offer learning, anticipating or filtering

The irrefusable offer must be one that lightens the burden felt by the customer, improves the customer’s experience, and produces better results for the customer. Offers that are learning, anticipating and filtering are such offers.

Take a look at the offer give in Example 1 in Part 8 of this series. This offer lightened the burden on the customer by reducing the customer’s need to store and handle large quantities of inventory month after month. The billing method, in turn, improved the cash flow for the customer, as well.

The offer was, in fact, anticipating the customer’s needs and filtering the volume down to the quantities actually required while still providing the prices to which the customer was accustomed under the previous ordering practices.

This offer, however, could have been made even more learning, anticipating and filtering. Suppose they had offered to simply replace the quantity actually consumed each month, rather than a flat 50,000 units per month. This may have been even more appealing to the customer.

Make the offer customizable

Buyers ranging from individuals buying one-offs via the Internet to professionals buying for big-box merchants today are influenced by customizable offers. Sometimes it is the actual product that is customized (e.g., made to specification, personalized, color or style options). However, even typical commodity offers can be customized.

When the product itself cannot or is not offered as customized, that does prevent the offer itself from being customized. Offers may be customized around several parameters:

  • Delivery method – online, next-day, same-day, free-freight, in-person, vendor-managed and so forth
  • Delivery quantities – incremental deliveries, truck-load, on-demand quantities
  • Payment terms – credit card, 90-days same as cash, consumption-based invoicing

The goal, of course, in any customization in the offer is to improve the customer’s experience and results.

Make the offer upgradable

Without renegotiating the whole deal, an upgradable offer allows the customer to add-on, extend, or improve upon an existing trading agreement. This is especially valuable where the market may be subject to significant changes—as are most markets today. I think most CFOs and COOs would agree that they would much rather keep a customer through an upgradable offer than to risk losing the customer because the customer feels that they must renegotiate “the whole deal” anyway.

Again, looking back to the offer give in Example 1 in Part 8 of this series, you can easily see that this offer was, indeed, upgradable. The offer could be extended to buy more of the same product, or additional products could be purchased under the same plan.

Make the offer online, interactive or one that provides near real-time feedback

Offers that lead to or involve sharing information in real-time or near real-time are also generally more able to be learning, anticipating and filtering. The close contact created by interaction between seller and buyer may also lead to valuable insights that could lead to more customized or upgradable offers.

Some time ago I had opportunity to discuss a new software purchase with the CFO a rapidly growing $350 million enterprise. I asked him what he thought about the software, but when he replied, he did not really talk about “the software,” at all. He said:

“The company has this great approach to support. They offer an online knowledgebase that is searchable and provides a wealth of helpful information. But what’s even better is that they monitor activity on the support site 24-hours a day. If it seems you are not finding the answer to your question after a couple of attempts, a dialog box pops-up and a live support person proactively offers to help you resolve your issue right then and there.”

Clearly, this buyer of “software” was far more impressed with online, interactive, real-time feedback from support than the software itself. This CFO has purchased “software,” but what he got was a better experience and improved results from his purchase.

Accompany the offer with anytime access and response

In a world where the typical customer is empowered by Internet access to so many options, providing an offer that includes anytime access or response is likely to improve the customer’s experience and results. This is proven by the previous example where the CFO mentioned the fact that the support site was proactively monitored “24-hours a day.”

In fact, I personally find that my clients feel much more “connected” with me when I give them my cellular phone number and assure that they are free to call me (literally) 24-hours a day if they need my assistance.

[To be continued…]

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