Empowering sales teams
Pricing is a crucial consideration for businesses and customers alike. Using data and interpersonal skills to determine price sensitivity and align price with value is key. Cliff Burgin of pricing consultancy Burgin Associates offers the following tips.
1. Involve sales in the process to build internal adoption.
Getting the team onboard is a crucial first step, using an evidence-based approach to overcome preconceptions inherent in sales teams, with salespeople often overestimating customers’ price sensitivity as they lack the tools to determine it.
2. Understand your cohorts – your customers are different.
The best approach to pricing is a targeted one, and using data to decide what conversation to have is an important start. Infrequent purchasers or small customers don’t warrant the same level of engagement as more significant clients. Business-critical clients should receive multi-stage communication to ensure the best outcomes for everyone.
3. Begin to communicate early.
Shifting customers’ thinking in advance of an increase can help avoid adverse reactions, and breaking the news gently over time can help to avoid surprises. Hint that it might happen at some point and distance yourself from the cause, advise on the approximate scale of the new price, remind them of the value, and confirm the detail – any negotiation should be around something other than the amount. Consider allowing a phased increase for important customers. It’s about finding ways to re-establish they are getting value for money.
4. Pilot if you can.
Trial any changes with some smaller clients to see what works, then iterate before rolling out to the more business-critical ones. Moving the new price to new customers first is typically less risky, since existing customers often feel 1) they’re already paying market price, 2) the product or service has not changed since they agreed a price and 3) the provider desperately wants to keep their business. Avoid the term ‘inflation’ if your change is substantially higher since it can otherwise be used against you.
5. Understand all the levers available.
Re-assess price metrics regularly to ensure alignment with value delivered. User-based pricing may be the best metric in certain circumstances, but there’s not just one type of user and just one price for them. You need to differentiate to align that pricing with value.
Setting up a sales force to accelerate the adoption of a new commercial model and systematising annual price increase processes.
Peach, a leading video advertising distribution workflow software backed by Inflexion since 2016, has experienced increasingly price-led competition in a maturing market. Besides significant investment in enhancing its workflow software capabilities, Peach also made a significant incremental impact after aligning its commercial model to reflect this enhanced value
Peach’s pricing was previously complex and not aligned to the value of the workflow, so shifting the thinking to the workflow proved fundamental. The analysis and conversations directly fed into developing a pricing model that can scale across different segment needs.
The team at Peach has also empowered the sales people to speak about value to allow for annual increases and up-sell opportunities.
“You need to build the internal conviction step-by-step and iterate as you learn more and continue to build confidence and momentum,” advises Brandon Paine, Chief Revenue Officer at Peach.
10% overall revenue increase
Delivering value for infrequent purchasers.
As a global specialist distributor of undercarriage and wear parts for construction equipment, Astrak’s customers purchase irregularly, typically waiting for something to break or wear out. It means customers don’t always have a set price expectation, and the family-run business is keen to treat its 14,000 loyal customers well.
This meant Astrak was at risk of underpricing its products. In spite of strong data, assessing pricing accuracy was difficult owing to the infrequent purchasing. It necessitated determining price sensitivity in other ways, so the sales people were trained to understand the context behind each purchase. This is empowering Astrak’s sales team to better convey the value associated with the products.
50% improvement in sales team adherence to the price structure