In Pricing, No Person Is an Island


Nathan L. Phipps
Senior Consultant, Wiglaf Pricing

Published May 26, 2022

Pricing professionals do not do their work in isolation. In fact, I would argue that pricing professionals CANNOT do their work in isolation.

Because pricing is a collaborative activity (if you are doing it effectively), you must accept that your team is essential to the pricing project.

I have previously sung the praises of pricing teams. Recent experiences have impressed upon me even further that your pricing team is indispensable if you ever want to accomplish any pricing goal with real value. Here are a few thoughts about working with pricing teams.

Your team helps break up the project into manageable chunks

Pricing projects require attention to detail on at least two levels. First, you need someone to keep an eye on the nitty-gritty details down in the weeds. You need someone who will dig into the analysis and live and breathe and wrestle with the data. For simplicity, let’s call this level the analyst.

Second, you need someone who is keeping an eye on the overall strategic direction of the pricing project. This person has an overarching comprehension of how the various parts of the project interact and support each other for the goal of project. For simplicity, let’s call this level the manager.

Are these two levels absolutely necessary? Well, in my experience, they help keep a project running smoothly. (Yes, yes, it appears that philosophers and economists from previous centuries may have been on to something with their musings on the division of labor and resulting specialization and productivity gains.)

When the client (whether internal or external) makes a request for a new analysis, the analyst is prone to start breaking the problem down: doing an inventory of what data is available, what data can be collected, and how to structure the analysis to reveal insight into the questions being asked. The analyst can focus on whether the proposed analysis is possible and how to best execute it.

However, it is supremely useful to have a manager who can keep their head above the fray and ask higher-level questions: What is the purpose of the proposed analysis? Is this the best analysis for the current situation? How will this analysis contribute to the project deliverables? Ultimately, the manager is in the best place to answer the question of whether the analyst should even spend time and resources on this specific analysis.

To put it simply, an efficient pricing project has an analyst dedicated to accurately crunching the numbers while a manager ensures that the right numbers are being crunched using the right cruncher.

Sure, you could try to wear multiple hats in a pricing project, but then you also risk being a jack of all trades and master of none. Pricing requires focus, and your team dividing the labor will help all team members focus better on their specialization for the project.

Ask for help from your team when you need it

So, a well-designed pricing team ensures that you are well placed for success. However, I have noticed something that can trip up some team members even if they have access to a phenomenal pricing team. Quite simply, people do not always ask for help, even if they really need it.

To me, this behavior seems to speak more about human nature in general than pricing projects specifically. Many people struggle with asking for help at one time or another. Perhaps asking for help makes you uncomfortable. Or perhaps you fear rejection or inconveniencing the other person. Maybe you are just uneasy with receiving from others.

Regardless of the root cause, it is important for all of us to remember that we do not have to struggle with obstacles or setbacks on our own. Underneath it all, we are all human beings. And human beings cannot tackle every problem solo. And if it is a big, complicated pricing project, you will need the support of a collaborative team more often than not.

Granted, the reality is that human beings are fallible. And we falter when we are too proud to ask for help. Sometimes we can’t even bring ourselves to admit that we have a need, much less muster the courage to ask for help. That is perfectly understandable. However, I want you to know that there is a better way.

In teams, a single individual can lead by example by asking for help when they need it. Showing vulnerability by asking for help may encourage others to realize that they can do the same. And keep in mind that this is not a one-way street: one good turn deserves another. Ask for help when you need it, but I would recommend that you also offer your own assistance abundantly when you can.

Yes, it is possible that you won’t receive the help you want when you ask for it. That is a risk. But that possible risk of rejection sounds more manageable to me than the absolute certainty of not receiving any help that you don’t request in the first place. (And if you find yourself never getting the help that you ask for, I would highly recommend finding a more collaborative pricing team to work with.)

No person is an island

In pricing, no person is an island. There are no lone rangers. The day is never saved by the actions of a single individual. Rather, pricing progress is made by dedicated teams of skilled pricing professionals working together on a shared goal. I literally don’t know any other way to achieve pricing success.

About The Author

Nathan L. Phipps is a Senior Consultant at Wiglaf Pricing. His areas of focus include pricing transformations, marketing analysis, conjoint analysis, and commercial policy. Before joining Wiglaf Pricing, Nathan worked as a pricing analyst at Intermatic Inc. (a manufacturer of energy control products) where he dealt with market pricing and the creation of price variance and minimum advertised price policies. His prior experience includes time in aerosol valve manufacturing and online education. Nathan holds an MBA with distinction in Marketing Strategy and Planning & Entrepreneurship from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University and a BA in Biology & Philosophy from Greenville College. He is based in Chicago, Illinois.