Persistence as a Pricing Virtue
This week was the Professional Pricing Society’s 2021 Fall Virtual Conference. There was a variety of great content on everything from building out your pricing team to ensuring that you are addressing the appropriate questions in your pricing project.
The conference reinforced for me just how important it is for pricing professionals to gather as a community. It is far too easy for us to be so focused on our own individual pricing projects that we forget that there is a whole world outside of our offices, and it is filled with people who may have similar experiences to our own. And we can learn from those people’s experiences, and those people can learn from our experiences.
Hearing about the struggles of other pricers reminds me of obstacles that I have encountered in my own pricing projects through the years. And it made me reflect on the fact that cultivating persistence can only benefit you in your pricing career.
It seems that persistence is an essential characteristic for pricing.
Persistence is necessary for iteration
As we all know, pricing is not a single event. Rather, pricing is a process.
As such, pricing requires iteration. Building a creative solution in any team environment requires collaboration. And crafting a solution that balances the needs of all your stakeholders will almost certainly require multiple iterations based on input and feedback from your pricing team.
This iteration process can potentially be a very draining process. You crunch all the numbers and complete the analysis. You completed your due diligence (and then some) and fulfilled all the parameters that were provided to you to the best of your ability. You are certain that you have a home run on your hands, so you are excited to report your results and recommendations back to the pricing team.
But then—complications strike!! Perhaps one of the parameters was miscommunicated or misunderstood. Or perhaps the goalposts were changed on you. Or perhaps there has been an abrupt change in strategic direction, and you discover that you are now playing the wrong game and must go back to the drawing board.
Regardless of the cause, the next step is the same: you have to start over, maybe all the way from the beginning. Discouragement is a natural reaction to this situation. However, I would encourage you to recognize that your efforts were not entirely in vain. Surely you learned something from your analysis thus far. And, if nothing else, you learned what doesn’t work.
Dive into the next iteration with the same energy and enthusiasm as your previous attempt. This may require you to dig deep. But remember that persistence is a muscle that strengthens with use. Furthermore, persistence is an absolute necessity for successful iteration in your pricing project.
Persistence is necessary for communication
Additionally, you will find persistence to be an important attribute when communicating the changes to a pricing policy or a commercial policy. You’ll also find persistence to be important when communicating the rationale behind any changes. (Communicating changes or the underlying rationale will also provide you with an opportunity to practice patience as well.)
People must be exposed to an idea or message many times before they truly hear a message, must less agree with or internalize it. There is no way (that I know of) around this hiccup. I have learned just to accept it as a given.
The simplest way to address this fundamentally human behavior is to be prepared to repeat yourself many times. You may have to reiterate the decision (and the reasons for the change) 10 times, 100 times, or even more. Brace yourself for the repetition.
It may feel like a game of whack-a-mole at times. But you can persevere by keeping your message simple, direct, and consistent. And be persistent in your communication of that message.
Persistence is necessary to achieve (lasting) change
As the philosopher Bertrand Russell noted, “No great achievement is possible without persistent work.” If your goal is to steward a pricing project that really moves the needle on profitability (or another strategic goal), then you will have to commit to persistence as well.
Change is difficult. Change is hard work. People, organizations, and our very universe itself are inclined to submit to inertia and resist change.
But pricing professionals must work against this knee-jerk aversion to change. You may be asking other people to engage in new behaviors or undertake new frameworks for their thinking. You may be asking some to change pricing perspectives that they have entertained (whether consciously or not) for decades. You may have new pricing tools or dashboards that you want people to start using.
But resistance to change should not be used as an excuse to maintain the status quo. Rather, I want to acknowledge that you will most likely encounter challenges as you progress through your pricing project. (If you do not encounter challenges or resistance on some level, then maybe your project could be more ambitious.)
Acknowledge it, but do not get too discouraged or resign yourself to apathy. Work through it one item at a time, brick-by-brick. Trust that your persistence will carry you through. And more times than not, you will find that your persistence will ultimately win the day.