It’s Time to Fix Your Contract Pricing

Summary: Ensure your training investment converts to better performance by enabling your managers to lead the process. Uncover why it’s necessary for front-line sales managers to be actively involved in rep training and where to plug in to help drive the initiative.

In the world of pricing and profitability, contracts and special price agreements (collectively known as “CSPs”) can create challenges for many companies. As sales teams negotiate with prospects and customers to secure, expand or rescue relationships, they make decisions and establish pricing designed to both win the business and ensure profitability.  

If the process is managed well, contracts can help bring in key customers that can be quite profitable. Unfortunately, maintaining these CSPs can create an administrative burden, and the resulting mismanagement can drain profitability. 

CSP Management Challenges

The devil is in the details. As sales reps establish CSPs, they often work in Microsoft Excel, Word, or even email to develop and communicate pricing to external customers and their internal sales or pricing teams. After internal or external negotiations, spreadsheets are imported into ERP systems to sit within the pricing hierarchy. Once uploaded, these pricing structures take precedence over matrix or other general pricing structures.

Over time, many companies discover that they have thousands of individual CSPs, each with dozens, hundreds or even thousands of line-items to review. Between quantity, complexity, file structure, and timing, CSP management becomes a truly daunting task for most companies.

If we think of a company’s pricing architecture as a house, CSPs represent the cluttered attic with a random accumulation of odds and ends brought and forgotten, year after year.

Bring Structure to Your Contract Pricing

Recovering contract profitability can seem like a daunting task for all the reasons discussed above, but there is a path to solving this problem. It all starts with segmenting the problem. Out of the thousands of CSP line-items that exist in your ERP system, there are predictable patterns and choices that can simplify the task of segmentation 

High-Visibility Products

We know that bigger customers with high-visibility products (shown in red and yellow in the figure above) are where customers and sales reps want to have the most engagement and discussion. These combinations commonly account for about 60 percent of revenues, and 20 percent or less of line-items. Remedy most of the line items with the simple steps below: 

  • Remove unnecessary products, customers or product/customer combinations from the mix.
  • Move the prices to prescribe capped (phased in) or uncapped (immediate, whole) increases.
  • Hold prices or identify a higher price that is short of the prescribed price.
  • Convert static net prices to dynamic discounts or margins to pass through cost increases in the future and prevent margin erosion.

With appropriate sales performance data, sales and pricing teams can quickly and efficiently build integrated, market-sensitive plans.

Low-Visibility Products

Low-visibility products that are sold to smaller customers represent another 40 percent of revenues and 80 percent of line items (shown in green in the figure above). The goal here is to prune wasteful product additions and discounting and remediate inappropriate net pricing. Applying low-margin discounts to these products to be consistent with high-volume, high-visibility products generally isn’t necessary.

Instead, these products and product groups can often be priced closer to typical non-contract pricing. When that’s the case, contracts can become significantly more profitable. Unfortunately, applying logical rules and adjustments to this large number of low-visibility products is where many companies get tripped up and ERP systems struggle to provide answers. 

We developed ContractGPS™, a simple cloud-based tool to quickly and efficiently take control of your CSP business, to help companies take control of these situations. With this tool, you can safely use automation with built-in analytics to correct contract pricing without wasting valuable sales time.

Contract business may be a sore spot or a challenge to your company, but there are paths to success that enable you to recover profitability while maintaining competitive price points for some of your most important customers. Incorporating these approaches to recovering margin can increase overall CSP net profitability by 50 percent or more for your business.


Take control of your customer-specific pricing.

ContractGPS™ gives manufacturers and distributors the visibility and control required to maintain and optimize contract pricing. Capture margin opportunities within your contracts.

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