April 23, 2015
“Pricing has moved from Clerical to Tactical, and is in the process of moving from Tactical to Strategic”
– Kevin Mitchell, President of the Professional Pricing Society
While working on my presentation for Vendavo Profit Summit in Europe, I researched the state of the pricing profession. I spoke to various people who recruit pricers, who do pricing consulting, and who manage pricing at Fortune 500 B2B companies. From our conversations, I got the overwhelming sense that there is strong demand for skilled pricers and, even as the US economy improves as a whole, job and salary prospects are improving for data scientists and pricers.
As a member of the pricing community, I have a vested interest in Kevin’s statement about the progression of the pricing profession. My own career path has largely followed the steps he describes, and I see signs from the clients we consult with that they are working on improving pricing execution, deploying new price structures, and building price awareness into product launches, etc.
The analyst in me knows that Kevin’s statement is, at best, only true on average. There are still far too many examples of organizations that have made mistakes in their pricing strategy. There are also plenty of people working in essential, but nonetheless clerical pricing jobs.
Pricing has spent at least 10 years establishing itself as a distinct profession, and this work is still in progress. But now, the pendulum is swinging back the other direction. Pricers are trying to work their way back into all the standard business functions (Sales, Supply Chain, Product Management, etc) as strategic influencers.
The march of progress within the profession is not even across organizations. Dramatically varied corporate profitability reflects the range of success for companies competing on analytics and implementing strategically sound pricing decisions. There are skill deficits, data hurdles, organizational silos, and all manner of other challenges facing Pricers today. Even after years of hard work to get recognition as an important discipline, “procurement continues to outpace/outspend/out-train pricing and sales people.” (Alison Yama, Senior Director Consulting Operations, Holden Advisors)
As recruiter Richard Bond says, “most people are maintainers – few people can help drive positive change.” If we want to see the discipline elevated to the next step, it’s going to require a lot more from each of us. During my session at the European Profit Summit, I summarized some statistics I gathered on the state of the profession and discussed more about how to move the needle forward.