October 23, 2013
Many of you reading this will be in the role of a Pricing Manager or Director, managing a central team with responsibility for one or all of your organisation’s pricing processes, pricing tools, defining pricing strategy and tactics and actually managing pricing decisions. Have you thought about what comes next? Already trying to work out which is the best lateral move to make after serving your time running the pricing team? Not great – right! Would it not be much better if there was a longer term pricing opportunity in your organisation, an opportunity to grow – upwards, up the ladder, vertically!
These are changing times for Pricers. Changing – for the better. I have been going to Pricing Conferences for the last decade. At the beginning, it was hard to meet others who shared my job description. Most came from Marketing, some from Finance. Today, 60-70% of participants have ‘Pricing’ in their title, and the number is growing. This is good news. This is going to give the pricing discipline more internal recognition and more long term stability.
Even with this step, the problem is still that organisations do not yet know where to put the pricing team. Research shows a real mixture of home locations: from Marketing, to Sales, to Finance and beyond. Many years ago, I worked as the Head of a Pricing Department for a company in the High-Tech industry: the industry has generally been recognised as early adopters of centralised Pricing teams. One of the companies’ addictions was to reorganise on a religious 18 month cycle. Each time the debate would rage as to where the Pricing team should be housed. The answer seemed to correlate with the level of Sales control: in good times, the company would decentralise decision making, and the Pricing Team would go to Sales; in bad times, there was stricter control, and we would find a home within the Marketing organisation. Even today, this story is not untypical for a Pricing Team.
This makes life hard for you as a leader of the Pricing Team. It is difficult to keep the team motivated, difficult to attract Best of Breed candidates, difficult to keep them and demonstrate a long-term career path.
So, it’s time to get this fixed, and there is no better person to take on this challenge than you!
If vertical development is a challenge in your organisation today, it needs to be fixed. This is going to be your job to manage this change. Let’s face it, it is also clearly in your own best interests to do so. Now, as a Director of a Pricing organisation you are probably not yet ready for the C-Level life, so don’t get too carried away. This project is going to sound strange, but will be the most important internal project you embark on in the next year. Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to spend the next year identifying a suitable internal candidate for a VP or C-Level Pricing role in your organisation and then help them establish, develop and get sign-off for this role. This is your job in 3-5 years’ time. This becomes your long-term vertical opportunity.
It will be much better to have a stable home for your team, to work for someone you can trust (and moreover someone you actually chose), and in addition, it will help your organisation focus on pricing as a core business practice for the long run.