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Responsibly Empowering Sales with Pricing Authority

Having joined Apple in 1976 at the ripe old age of 14, Chris Espinosa is currently the longest-serving Apple employee. But back in 1981, he was just a young college dropout trying to design a calculator that would meet Steve Jobs’s exacting standards.

Now if you know anything at all about Steve Jobs’s design sensibilities, you won’t be surprised to hear that Chris was having a really hard time coming up with something that Steve would approve. Every time he showed him something, Jobs would say the color was wrong or the lines were too thick or the buttons weren’t the right size.

Frustrated, Espinosa came up with a novel solution. Instead of tweaking the design further, he built what he called “the Steve Jobs Roll Your Own Calculator Construction Set.” It was a program that allowed Jobs to use drop-down menus to change the various attributes of the calculator design, like the line thickness, button size, color, etc. Within minutes, Jobs used it to create a calculator he liked.

That design remained part of the Mac operating system until 2002.

What does all this have to do with sales and pricing?

Good question. Pricing teams often have similar struggles to Espinosa when they present guidance to sales. Salespeople can be picky. And they generally don’t like being told what to do.

That leaves pricing in a tricky situation. They could try to force sales to do what pricing wants, or they can throw up their hands and hope for the best.

But there is a third option. Our research has found that a pricing enablement model strikes a healthy balance between giving sales the authority they want while also providing appropriate guidance.

The Pricing Enablement Model

The pricing enablement model allows the sales team to make some of their own pricing decisions. But it uses data and technology to keep them in check. It keeps the salesforce happy while preventing them from damaging pricing performance.

It puts in place a system that automatically rewards the sales team for good pricing actions. It also has some important side benefits:

  • Requires less change and political pain
  • Gives salespeople pricing control and flexibility at the last mile
  • Promotes buy-in and ownership for all parties involved
  • Provides scalability and repeatability
  • Works in nearly any situation or organizational structure
  • Produce great results in a short period time

If that sounds interesting to you, check out the webinar on Profitable Pricing Enablement. It explains pricing enablement in greater detail, and it offers some lessons learned from pricing teams that have already adopted this model.

As the team at Apple learned, there’s a limit to how much value can be gleaned from repeatedly going back and forth discussing a topic. Sometimes you need to switch up the pattern to reduce conflict and get to end results that work for everyone. And for pricing teams, the price enablement model is one great way to get out of rut and implement a solution that works for both pricing and sales.

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