Not surprisingly, we get quite a few questions about hiring. These questions actually come from both sides of the equation—i.e. people looking to hire and people looking to be hired. And while the objectives and motivations of each side are slightly different, the questions are all very similar:
What do the leading pricing teams look for when hiring new people? What are the key ingredients they deem to be most important? What types of skills, knowledge, and experiences will shoot candidates to the top of the short list?
Now, one might expect “pricing skills” to be the number one criteria for a pricing hire, right? But while finding candidates with copious pricing knowledge and skill is a huge bonus, of course, leading teams recognize that these types of candidates are extremely rare. And as a result, most leading teams have very robust training programs in place to help develop the specific pricing capabilities they want and need.
In other words, leading pricing teams are usually looking to hire great raw materials rather than expecting to find perfect finished goods.
These points…and many more…were reinforced for me in a recent interview with Lynn Guinn of Cargill. Lynn is not only one of my favorite people in the pricing community; he also leads one of the largest and most consequential pricing functions on the planet. And in our conversation about leadership development, Lynn talked about the professional development programs they have in place and shared the three most important things he looks for in new hires:
- Commercial Acumen—Understanding how a business works and how all of the various functions work together to produce an outcome. As pricing decisions are made in the context of a business, the more pricing people know about business, the better. As we’ve said many times, a good pricing person will be a good business person first.
- Analytical Capability—This isn’t just about being able to pull a bunch of numbers or craft snazzy charts and graphs. It’s about digging deeper and getting behind the numbers to figure out what’s really going on, why it’s happening, and what should be done about it. It’s about turning historical and current performance data and market intelligence into meaningful knowledge and actionable insight.
- Communication Skills—To put commercial acumen and analytical ability into practice and actually make something happen in a large organization, you have to be able to communicate insights and explain recommendations to any other level or function in that organization. In B2B pricing, there are a lot of other players involved and if you really want to get things done, you have to be able to tell a credible and compelling story about why those things need to happen and why they need to happen right now.
While Lynn is clear about the raw materials he’s looking for, he’s also quick to acknowledge that it’s still not easy to find candidates that have all three things. Two out of three is pretty typical. In fact, he tells his HR people that when they find candidates that are strong in all three areas, just go ahead and hire them!
Whether you’re looking to hire people into your pricing group, or you’re looking to get hired into a leading pricing group, I encourage you to listen to the interview with Lynn. You’ll not only learn a lot about what it really means to be a pricing professional, you’ll also learn what it takes to develop and maintain a truly effective global pricing capability.
Developing An Effective Global Pricing Capability
In this informative conversation with Lynn Guinn, the Global Strategic Pricing Leader for Cargill, learn about developing and maintaining a high-performance pricing function in one of the largest and most successful agricultural companies on the planet.
Advancing Your Career in Pricing
There's never been a better time to be a B2B pricing professional. But when it comes to your career, you can’t just hope that good things will happen in the future. In this on-demand webinar, learn how to take charge and make good things happen.
How to Hire Great Pricing People
How do you identify pricing candidates with the raw materials to be most successful? In this on-demand webinar, you'll learn the most important attributes you should be looking for when building your team.