Partnering With Sales Featuring Joanne Smith

In this #PricingPodcast, expert Joanne Smith shares strategies to improve partnering with sales within pricing partnerships.

Joanne Smith is a featured Workshop presenter during our Winter European Global Pricing Workshops and Conference in Berlin, Germany. Before sharing exclusive insight with attendees, she shared best-practices to improve price execution in our #PricingPodcast series!

Click the image below to listen to the audio recording:

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**We’ve transcribed the full audio interview below:

Why is this an important topic that should be considered?

J.S. : This topic is so important since most companies that embrace pricing focus on price setting, but that is just half the battle. Price execution is the other 50%. The best price setting does you little good if sales can’t successfully negotiation the price. So it is imperative that pricing work closely with sales to support or guide them in the execution. I continue to see weak execution skills in virtually every business I work with; from highly experienced sales professionals and leaders through pricing leaders & professionals.

    Unfortunately, so many pricing groups think execution is the sole responsibility of the sales force and thus they don’t think they need to (or should) get involved. This could not be further from the truth. The pricing group must be the champion for better pricing and that extends through helping to build the pricing skills of the sales force. Furthermore, a pricing person can’t be a valued partner of sales if they don’t understand price execution and have skills to coach or guide sales in difficult price drop or price increase situations.

What are some of the biggest challenges to price execution?

J.S. : The two tough challenges are 1. how to manage situations where there is high pressure to drop your price and 2. how to successfully manage situations where you are increasing price. In both of these situations, the customer is pushing hard for lower price (or lower increase) and competitors are potentially positioning to ‘take your share”.

    Most sales people don’t know how to assess their pricing power in these situations and thus they often drop the price far too frequently and much more than they need to. They don’t know how to manage aggressive competitors. In the end, their actions often lead to more price aggressive customers and price aggressive competitors; making their jobs in more difficult.

What are a few of the key reasons that companies have such low success with their price increases?

J.S. : Most companies only achieve about 30% of their price increase targets. It doesn’t need to be that low and with good skills they can greatly improve (double or triple their success). There are a number of reasons why companies have such low success, and unfortunately no silver bullet to fix these issues; it takes a combination of skills to turn things around. But, the top two high level reasons for low success are 1) mindset and 2) execution skills.

    Mindset gets into things like the culture being so volume focused that they are afraid to risk any volume loss, to sales not having the courage and conviction to really ‘sell’ their price increase. The lack of courage and conviction often stems from their lack of strong price execution skills. Once you enhance the skills the mindset shifts occur and your performance greatly improves.

What was your experience when you ran DuPont’s Marketing and Pricing Group? Was execution a key issue?

J.S. : Absolutely! Nearly every business believed that had highly experienced sales people who had repeatedly tried to improve price but their highly competitive environment made it too difficult to raise (or sometimes even hold) price without losing their volume. They, and their leaders, were amazed at their success when they started to use best practices for pricing execution. They learned (then demonstrated) that their own actions & behaviors could influence the market in a very positive way.

What makes this workshop unique or different from other workshops on pricing execution?

J.S. : When I ran DuPont’s Corporate Pricing, I evaluated numerous externally available pricing and negotiation courses looking for the best course to train our sales and pricing professionals. This course combines some of the best of these courses but I have also added several powerful modules and exercises (and modified others) to make it more practical, easy to understand and quite relevant to the sales force. I want folks confident to immediately start using their new knowledge to make better pricing decisions.

What approaches do you use in this workshop?

J.S. : Think fun and practical. This course is loaded with games, exercises and real-life examples that focuses on very practical advice. Advice that can be immediately applied. There are take-home tools to help reinforce the key messages and improve price drop decisions. It is fast paced and fun; but most of all practical.

Have you offered this course in the past? If so, what was the participant’s response?

J.S. : Yes, I have offered this course, or a similar version, a number of times. Typically I am offering internally to a company’s sales & pricing groups but this is the first time that I am offering it at the Spring Pricing Workshops & Conference – (#PPSMIA). I have always gotten outstanding feedback for this course, in fact a few experienced sales leaders have even said it was the best course of their career.

You can hear directly from Joanne Smith during the 28th Annual Spring Pricing Workshops and Conference in Miami, FL!

Joanne Smith will lead a Workshop entitled, “Partnering With Sales: Best Practices For Price Education.” (Click the image below for registration details)

#PPSMIA Registration is NOW OPEN! (click the image for more details)

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