We were in Miami last week for the Pricing Society fall conference. This week we’re in San Francisco for Dreamforce, the salesforce.com user bash. Almost everyone we talk to is concerned about the economy, and many people are already experiencing a slowdown. (One particularly astute pricing VP has been able to maintain profits in an industry dependent on housing starts, through smarter pricing and better product mix– great job.)

The great thing about the PPS conference is that you get to interact with hundreds of pricing people. You can share stories, and really get into pricing.

The great thing about Dreamforce is that you get to interact with thousands of people who are ultimately responsible for pricing– sales and sales support. I’ve talked before about how pricing and sales often don’t see eye-to-eye. Different incentives lead to different views of the “optimal” outcome. But much of the time, both sales and pricing can agree that certain results are not optimal. Deals that are priced so low they force other sales reps to justify their prices. Approval cycles that take forever, especially if the one person who can pull the right data is on vacation. We’ve found that if the pricing team gives the sales team some useful support, tools, and information, the gap is much closer than both sides imagined.

Naturally, we automate a good chunk of that process with our Deal Manager application. This takes the guesswork out of pricing by providing optimized target prices. If reps need to be more aggressive in a particular circumstance, they can route the deal for approval electronically. Then the approver, who previously had to spend hours fishing through SAP and/or Excel just to gather data, has the relevant information at their fingertips. Price waterfalls, scatter plots based on the customer segment, customer order history, and more. It’s a nice fit for Dreamforce, too, because it all plugs right inside salesforce.com. So if you happen to be at Dreamforce, come see us in booth #715 (right be the entrance to the keynote).

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