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The Power in Pricing as a Mediator

Chris Kennedy-Sloane< Chris Kennedy-Sloane June 15, 2022

In organizations where the pricing function is non-existent, or perhaps juvenile, the value of establishing yourself as a neutral party can often be overlooked. When you enter a new business, acquisition, or business unit, it is common and tempting to come in and present yourself as an expert, prescribe how things should be done, and shake things up. But there’s power in taking a different approach. Don’t underestimate the opportunity to step into the role of a mediator as a pricing professional.

When it comes to pricing, emotions often run hot in any business, with multiple stakeholders believing they’re the ultimate owner of price. For salespeople in particular, pricing can be directly linked to compensation which further increases the emotive impact of pricing changes.

As a pricing professional, you’ve likely already had to deal with the challenge of salespeople struggling with the potential impact of pricing changes on their strategy and customer relationships. Navigating these conversations is a difficult aspect of any pricer’s role. Add the challenges of inflation, supply chain issues, budget freezes, and other economic factors to that equation, and pricing can be even more harrowing than usual.

There’s no single owner of price

Of course, it’s not just sales that are invested in price even though your salespeople may often be the loudest voices. Finance will agitate to ensure that price is supporting their budgetary needs and meeting the business requirements, and your colleagues in product management will often be similarly invested in their products’ appearance and strategy.

Each of these departments will have differing and sometimes conflicting goals. Not just that, but unless you’re careful, it’s possible that they might circumvent existing processes for what they believe to be the greater good.

In pricing, it’s your job to be the bridge between these departments. Understanding and listening to all your stakeholders is key. What your colleagues think, what they say, and what we hear, can often vary. This dynamic means that unless you’re actively searching for real meaning, your role as a mediator and arbitrator can be lost. You can end up the opposition yourself, losing the role of trusted advisor.

Listen to every voice

The true power of a mediator is balancing multiple viewpoints from the business. Sometimes pricers need to look elsewhere in the organization to find more eclectic perspectives and ensure that the conversation can be shaped strategically around the actual needs and goals of the business.

Production departments, analytics, marketing, even customer service colleagues can have unique and truly differentiated understandings of your competitive position and perceived value.

The lesser heard colleagues in a business have power – often more than you might think. Giving them an opportunity to make their point and contribute to strategic decision making can win you friends for life.

Employing these alternative viewpoints can add balance to sometimes one-sided conversations that have a risk of derailing business initiatives. Furthermore, this can cement the position of a pricing professional as someone that can add value not just commercially, but also as an advocate for voices that are not often heard. Don’t underestimate how much this can win you respect across the whole business!

Speaking of winning respect, Vendavo recently released an eBook on doing exactly that. Check out How to Win Friends, Influence People, and Achieve Excellence to learn how pricing and sales teams can adopt better tools and processes to improve Commercial Excellence Maturity.

Steering the ship to port in rough seas

Of course, the ideal world allows a win-win-win situation where everyone is happy, but the real world often demands compromise. Supporting or detracting a myriad of inputs means that the push and pull of the strategic direction of the business can be steered perhaps more delicately than a single explosive redirect would achieve.

It also puts pricing in a unique position, sitting at the center of decision making and enabling the creation of real business value through a uniquely collaborative process. This shapes the businesses’ perspective of the pricing or commercial excellence function as a whole. This mindset reframes pricing for the organization. Pricers will no longer be seen as an instructor, or a challenger to be overcome, but rather as a partner to be consulted. When you step into the role of the mediator, you become a strategic business partner capable of driving real business outcomes and transformation.

Learn to listen more than you talk.