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Fireside Chat with Kevin Mitchell | Growth + Profitability Summit 2023 

Morgan Short< Morgan Short October 23, 2023

In this Fireside Chat from Vendavo’s Growth + Profitability Summit 2023 in Chicago, Morgan Short, Director of Content & Web Strategy at Vendavo, talks with Kevin Mitchell, President of Professional Pricing Society, about current trends in pricing, the economic and other factors impacting the industry, and where pricing processes and solutions are headed in the future.  

Morgan Short: Hi, everyone. I’m Morgan Short, Director of Content and Web Strategy here at Vendavo. We are at the Growth + Profitability Summit in Chicago, and I am here with Kevin Mitchell, President of Professional Pricing Society. Hi, Kevin.  

Kevin Mitchell: Hi, Morgan. And thanks so much to you and the Vendavo team for inviting me. I’m very thankful for the opportunity, and also thanks for your partnership. I appreciate that.  

Short: Of course. We love having people from PPS here, especially if it’s Kevin Mitchell, President of PPS. So thanks again. And I have a question for you. My first question is, what trends are you seeing in pricing right now? What’s top of mind?  

Mitchell: There are a few things that are top of mind for us right now. Obviously, we’re coming into a global macroeconomic situation where there’s a lot of uncertainty out there. There’s a lot of disruption out there. We’re coming off of an inflationary period, depending on your industry, your geography, you might see continued inflation, you might have an evening out of costs, you might have some things that are up and some things that are down. I’ve heard people use the term hybrid inflation because some things are crazy and some things are more settled, but really what this means is there’s a lot of uncertainty where we really do not know what’s going to happen from a global macro-economic perspective. Also, some other trends we’re seeing is that a lot of people are adopting more of an omnichannel approach where they are selling through a lot of different methods that may be new to them. Obviously, most people have gotten more heavily into eCommerce over the past X number of years, and that presents extra complications. If you’ve only done business through a dealer network or through store locations or through your salespeople, it adds a layer of complexity to all of your operations there, which is another challenge.  

Some other challenges are around speed to market. Obviously we, as consumers, and even if you are a business, if you sell the business, if you’re B2B, people want things yesterday or earlier. A lot of the challenges that we’re seeing now are that people have the opportunity to do their shopping online, or get information for themselves. But when they want answers, they want them now. When they want a deal or an offer from your company, they want it now. They want everything laid out and they want you to have all of the answers almost before they ask the questions. So really what we have are several different dimensions where. Things are just changing very, very rapidly. There is a bit of a blurring in a way between how people who deal with consumers and how people who deal with businesses are acting. Sometimes consumers have the ability to act like businesses and vice versa. As far as personalization. And some other methods there, but really what we’re seeing is an increased focus on the customer, your offerings, your products and services, bringing those to the marketplace, how you’re delivering that. And of course, the price is often the very first marker of what you’re out there offering. So, a lot of new and interesting changes there.  

Short: And so with these trends – you mentioned hyperinflation, hybrid inflation, you mentioned speed to market, you mentioned omnichannel. How do these trends then go down to the pricing professionals role? Like what challenges did they have ahead?  

Mitchell: Really, for the pricing professionals themselves, what this means is they have the opportunity/challenge to provide even more answers and to provide even more dimensions of knowledge for their company, for the marketplace, for their customers. And really, this will make the pricing professional hopefully more to the forefront, hopefully getting more attention from senior leadership because of their impact on the organization and what they can do for the organization. And really what this means for the pricing professional is with all of these extra elements, there should be increased focus on those individuals. Hopefully we are going to see more tools for them, more training for them, more ways that they can capitalize on their knowledge and what they have to offer. But with this increased focus, there’s extra responsibilities, of course, and it means an additional focus, hopefully, for pricing professionals who historically have been underappreciated, under-trained, under-serviced, undervalued, and lots more unders and things like that. Hopefully we are seeing some changes to that, and they are getting the emphasis, the attention, the tools, the techniques, the strategies that they need in order to do their jobs better.  

Short: Absolutely, and that’s what we want at Vendavo as well, to focus on that, on that price area and make sure that they are supported in their roles. One last question for you, Kevin. Just in general for PPS, what are you thinking about? What are you excited about as an organization this year and beyond?  

Mitchell: What we are excited about is we are expanding our offerings. We have always enjoyed great partnerships with Vendavo and lots of other consulting companies, academics, people, around the industry. But really what we’re excited about is – almost more probably through perspiration than inspiration – if we go back to the last big shock to our system, the recession of 2008, 2009, and depending on your industry and your geography, we had very large shifts in favor of lots of online pricing courses, lots of online offerings to our people. When people didn’t travel, obviously during the pandemic that put us in a good position because people did travel again. But now we’re in the great position, Morgan, where we not only have built up our online offerings over the years, but back to in-person events. So, of course, very thankful to be here as well. So, expanding our conference offerings, expanding our online offerings, expanding our training, our certification, our publications, looking at other geographies, industries that are new and that are just getting into pricing. So there’s a lot of growth around our part of the business world. Probably not enough yet, but more is coming. So around PPS, we have a lot of excitement about what we can offer to the marketplace, expanding on our partnerships with yourselves and with other companies and really being for, by and about pricing, revenue management, sales enablement, people who are concerned with margins and profitability, really about serving that marketplace as good as we can.  

Short: Absolutely. Sounds just like our people. We serve the same people. Thank you so much for what you do at PPS, and thank you for being here at our Growth + Profitability Summit. There really is nothing better than a handshake and being back in person, so thanks again, Kevin, you rock. Thanks for joining us and we’ll talk soon.  

Mitchell: Absolutely. Thank you, Morgan. Appreciate that.  

Short: Thank you, man.