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Stop Doing Pricing the Hard Way

In American culture, we’re taught that doing something the “hard” way is inherently better than doing it the easy way.

For example, in an elementary school math class, the teacher almost certainly won’t let students use a calculator, even though it would be a faster and more accurate way to get the answer. If you or your spouse is having a baby, everyone will assume that a “natural” birth will be better than one that includes drugs, even though getting the epidural or even a caesarean might make it faster and result in less stress for mom and baby. If you’re baking a cake, from scratch is better. And if you grow your own vegetables, milk your own cow, get eggs from your own chickens, or make your own juice, you’re just assumed to be doing life better than everyone else. Football legend John Elway has even said, “I think you learn better when things are done the hard way.”

Now, we aren’t here to judge your lifestyle or advocate on behalf of certain birthing choices or cast any shade on Elway. We do, however, want you to stop doing pricing the hard way.

In pricing, the hard way is asking sales to do part of the work. By this, I mean giving the sales team data rather than answers. For example, you might provide the salespeople historical pricing data so that they can drill down and see which prices have proven most effective for the type of customer they are currently serving. All the data and analysis tools are there for them, but they have to do a little bit of the work for themselves.

This approach is common, but it’s a little like trying to get toddlers to help with housework. It’s far faster and easier just to do it yourself.

In practice, this means giving the sales team the actual answers to their questions, not just the data to find those answers. It means creating dashboards that show only the most relevant pricing data presented in a way that even new salespeople can understand. It means building deal-level intelligence into the process of generating a quote. It means telling them exactly, specifically what price they should charge a custom given certain variables.

Of course, that means a little more work on the front end for the pricing team. You’re going to have to build the reports, dashboards, processes, and tools that give the sales team the answers that they need. But in the long run, it will be faster and easier for everyone.

You might wish that the sales team were more analytical. You might even think they would be better at their jobs if they could generate a quote the “hard” way. But the truth is, what really matters is the end result. What you really want is for the customer to get the best possible price — it doesn’t really matter how you arrived at that point.

We explore this tension between delivering data or delivering answers to salespeople in the tutorial Delivering Answers to the Point of Sale. It goes through five steps that can help you get the right information in front of the right people at the right time.

You might also want to check out the webinar Getting Salespeople to Price Better, which offers a lot of tried-and-true tips for working with the sales team on pricing.

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