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Pricing – An Art or Science? (Hint – look out for the Value Add)

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Emma Louise Thompson

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Pricing – An Art or Science? (Hint – look out for the Value Add)

As a Pricing, cough, let’s go with Professional as I am loathed to use the word expert, I am often saddened to hear about the experiences of so many within the Bidding/Tendering profession of the pricing side of the Bid process.

That last minute dash to embed a spreadsheet into the final submission, with no context or clarity.

The frankly gobbledygook language some pricing people use to make it sound simply “too complex for you to understand” – purely to justify their roles, or prop up their own image or self-view.

So what, you might ask, do I see as the role of the Pricing part of the Proposal process?

Well – to be involved at every single stage.

Yes, that’s right…Every. Single. Stage.

I have held 2 roles in the same industry – but they could not have been more different.

Within 1 I was involved from pre-bid receipt, to Kick-Off meeting, through all the reviews, and right up to the final submission day.

I knew the tender was coming in, how long the deadline would give us, what the business strategy would be, and every single thing about the intended approach to be portrayed within the narrative.

I was able to develop relationships across the business far and wide – from Sales to Marketing, from Procurement to the Board.

I loved this role. It was fulfilling, challenging, and I was able to make a real difference.

Within the other role I sat, like the proverbial Mushroom, and priced piece of work after piece of work, never saw the tender submission and was repeatedly told I “didn’t need to be involved in that side of things”.

One guess only which role saw (1) the most wins and (2) my being promoted twice, and leading directly to me making measurable impacts on both win rates and both sales and margin improvements?

Pricing is both an art and a science…


..and here’s the crazy part…

..it MUST be explainable, fully transparently clear, to everyone involved in the proposal submission.

I find it interesting that most, if not all, Bid Managers that I know have come from being Bid Writers, but this is something I would like to challenge for us as APMP members or Bid Professionals…

…a great Pricing Partner needs to know, okay not perhaps the details of why a particular layout might be preferable over another, but what themes are being used; what the value statements are; what we are using to differentiate ourselves; and what we are saying we are going to offer as our value proposition. Also what follow up support and reviews we will be offering too.

I also think as Pricing Professionals we need to be able to explain our work to everyone – even those for whom numbers seem a mystical foreign language.

After all they do say that you know when you truly understand something – because you can train it to/explain it to others.

I hope this changing world of COVID changed-forever remote working will give us all the platform to re-evaluate many aspects of how we work together, and that one part of this might be an improved collaboration of Pricing with Narrative to develop our role to being a fully-fledged partner within the Proposal world.

Perhaps we, as Pricing Professionals, need to use these times to get in front of as wide an audience as possible and really enhance our roles and reputations.

Show the value that we add.

After all…

“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” – Warren Buffett

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