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Can’t Pricing & Sales Just Get Along?

It’s really common for a little tension to exist between the sales team and the pricing team. And by “a little tension,” we mean that sometimes they hate each other’s guts.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

In fact, some of the most successful pricing groups are those who have developed a good rapport with sales. When the two teams are getting along, they are able to work together towards achieving the same goal—higher sales and profitability for the company.

To find out how to develop that rapport, we sat down with one of the best B2B pricing people we know, Greg Preuer. Having worked as director of pricing, Greg has a unique perspective because before he was a pricing guy, he was a sales leader. That has given him an advantage in being able to relate with people on both teams. When it comes to breaking down barriers between pricing and sales, Greg offers three key pieces of advice:

1. Speak their language. When you talk with sales, you need to talk about the things they really care about, namely, increasing their sales and making their quotas. If you tell the sales team that they need to increase prices in order to increase margins for the company, they aren’t likely to be all that responsive. But if you explain that a price increase will make it easier for them to hit their quotas without doing as much work, they’re suddenly much more receptive.

“You really got to come at the sales people and speak one language,” Greg says. “That language is, I’m talking to you about how I can help you grow your sales. That’s the only language that they want to hear. So if you don’t speak that language as you come to them, it’s like Charlie Brown’s teacher.”

2. Build a strategic relationship with the leader of the sales organization. Greg would sit down with the sales leader at his organization once a month to eat breakfast and talk. That helps them hammer out strategy and keep focused on the big picture. It also gives them a chance to share what people in both groups are doing to move the company closer to its goals.

When you have that relationship in place, it also makes it easier to work through conflict when it arises. If you understand how the sales leader thinks and what he or she is doing, it makes it much easier to find common ground on disagreements.

3. Go out in the field at least three days a month. Another way to build that relationship with sales is to ride along on sales calls. You have to be careful in presenting this idea to sales; make sure that they understand you aren’t there to critique their performance but to learn more about customers and what is happening in the field.

Greg says that when salespeople understand why you are there, they often really like having the pricing people along. It helps the pricing people get a better feel for the pulse of the market, as well as to build a bond with the salespeople. “If you go out to war with them, your credibility will jump,” Greg explains. “Especially if you go along with them and somebody tries to beat your company up with a really tough objection or tough answer and you’re able to negotiate through that into a good solution, now you’ve earned street credibility.”

For more tips on building your relationship with sales, check out the webinar Getting Salespeople to Price Better and the tutorial How to Prevent Margin Meltdowns in the Field. Both are full of real-world advice from other B2B pricing teams who learned how to nurture a productive relationship with sales.

In closing, we’ll leave you with one last piece of advice from Greg Preuer: “The right number of complaints on pricing is not zero.” He adds, ” Pricing is a contact sport. Your uniform should be dirty at the end of every day. You should be in the conflict on a daily basis.”

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