I’m Sold on Modern Commerce. Now What?

Andres Reiner, Brian Solis, Paul Greenberg and yours truly answer deep questions on modern commerce, customer engagement and the role of humans in an AI world.

If you’ve been following our blogs recently, you’ve seen that modern commerce has been a major recurring theme, and one that received intense focus for three days at our annual Outperform conference in Chicago. Before we sent the 600+ sales, pricing and revenue management professionals who joined us home to tackle opportunities in their own businesses, we gave them one last chance to ask our experts some questions. Here’s some of what they asked:

I buy into the idea of modern commerce, but feel like pricing in my business isn’t recognized as part of the customer experience. How can I convince my company that pricing is strategic?

There is a huge opportunity to apply discipline and science to pricing for revenue, margin and sales growth, but getting buy-in can often feel like pushing a rock up a mountain. While some companies invest in pricing because they’re innovators who see the opportunity, many companies begin looking at pricing because they have an issue that’s costing them money – sales or revenues are down, etc. – and they need to take action. For example, HP started looking at pricing differently when they realized that their pricing approval process was taking too long and costing them both wins and the opportunity to even bid in cases where a reseller needed a quick response. To improve the buying experience, they needed to tackle pricing – bringing data and analysis to see the impact of not moving quickly, not having consistent pricing, etc. By connecting pricing to pain points, you can see what it’s costing you and begin to change the experience.

Five years from now, for companies that embrace modern commerce, what will be the biggest discovery on their journey?

From Andres: In addition to increasing sales, the biggest impact will be on customer service and innovation. Businesses will have a real-time sense of what customers want, they’ll have more ability to quickly test and change what they’re delivering, and they’ll use this knowledge to shape the way products are packaged and sold, removing friction while driving more brand loyalty. Some industries may even move to real-time manufacturing. And, products will start to be bundled in new ways to respond to how customers want to buy them – maybe buying a car that has insurance that comes with it, or having a whole journey itinerary when you travel, not just individual purchases of a seat on an airplane, a rideshare to the hotel, the hotel room, etc. Everything you need to use and enjoy that purchase will be bundled together, and businesses will partner in new, innovative ways – in both the B2C and B2B worlds.

I’m not sure I have the power to change my entire organization over to modern commerce. I’m one person – what can I do?

From Brian: Ask yourself an important question, if you don’t drive the change, who will? Most companies that make a transformation have someone – a change agent – who sees the possibility, buys in to new trends and works to connect the dots across the organization. In addition to their day job, they are an analyst, gathering data to make the business case; a lawyer, presenting it in compelling way; a politician, networking and getting people on board cross-functionally; and finally a cheerleader, selling folks on the idea of change. Without you, where would it start?

From Paul: And don’t underestimate the power of emotion. In business, there is so much focus on KPIs, metrics and compensation that misses the big picture — the one thing all people have in common. We all want to be happy, and everything we do is driven by that, in business and in life. A business is just another gathering of people working with a variety of constraints – regulatory, financial, personnel, etc. – but all customers don’t care about that. All they care about is if you can figure out how to make them happy with you. That’s at the core of customer engagement, and success comes when you figure out make both yourselves and your customers happy.

All of this led to more questions and more discussion: “What’s the difference between a customer-centric and customer-engaged business (and why does it matter)?” “In a data and algorithm-driven future, what is the role for people and their vision?” See what the experts had to say about these and more questions on the Facebook Live post at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/PROSInc/posts/.

So, what about you? Curious or have questions about modern commerce, dynamic pricing science, or how to get started on a transformation of your own? A great new resource to start with is the practical guide shared with all Outperform attendees: Accelerate Your Journey To Modern Commerce, an April 2017 commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of PROS. Check it out, and let me know what questions PROS can answer for you.

About the Author

Craig Zawada

Craig Zawada joined PROS in 2010 and serves as its Chief Visionary Officer. He is responsible for creating and articulating the vision for how PROS uses the latest technology to help companies drive incremental sales growth and profit improvement. Prior to joining PROS, he was a partner and leader in the Marketing & Sales Practice at McKinsey & Company. Zawada is a widely published author, with articles that have appeared in many high-profile publications, including Harvard Business Review, Forbes.com, Mergers and Acquisitions, and the McKinsey Quarterly. Zawada co-authored both the first and second editions of “The Price Advantage,” which has been recognized as one of the most pragmatic books available on pricing strategy.

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