A Pricing Skills Gap?

Here is a question from a reader:

I have a skills gap that I need to close. I earned my Certified Pricing Professional (CPP) designation last year through the Professional Pricing Society. At work, we have engaged a pricing optimization firm to apply science to our pricing process. I’ve found myself taking a backseat to a more technical coworker that has more experience in the quantitative aspects of pricing. Any advice? I really need to develop a plan for bridging this gap.

Many things come to mind while reading this:

First, huge kudos to you for taking responsibility for your own career and learning. That’s a lesson I learned much too late in life.

Second, maybe you don’t really need to fill that skills gap the way you think. Becoming a pricing champion requires three crucial skills: pricing expertise, understanding data and leadership. You probably already have a lot of pricing expertise based on your CPP.

Notice I didn’t say you needed to be a data expert or statistician. The better you understand data, the more you can contribute with knowing what data to collect and what information you might be able to dig out of the data. However, as you move up in your career you will want to know how to work well with statisticians, not be one.

The leadership portion is the biggest downfall of most pricing experts. With what I know about your situation and most pricing experts, this is the area I’d advise you to work on. This is about listening to other departments, gaining a deep understanding of their goals, and then figuring out how to help them achieve those goals. This is the art of influence. Not easy, but this skill will take you much further than the ability to analyze data.

Combining the last two paragraphs, you will want to support your colleague as much as possible. Don’t worry about how they find the answers. Instead worry about how to implement those results. Like a leader though, don’t forget to give your colleague a ton of credit for his or her achievements.

Third, start studying data analytics. Specifically, you are interested in understanding more about “big data.” Every statistics class I ever took was about deriving the formulas. Maybe that gives some people a more nuanced understanding, but it’s totally useless in the real world. Look for an applied statistics course. If you find a couple you’re considering, feel free to send the info to me and I’d be happy to share my opinion.

In summary, great job focusing on your career. You will probably go further in your career focusing on learning influence and leadership.