On November 13, Zilliant customers and partners from around the world met in Paris, France, for MindShare Europe 2019. It was by far our most well-attended customer conference in Europe to date, featuring expert pricing and sales growth presentations, roundtables, networking opportunities and customer appreciation events. Longtime Zilliant customers, new customers and prospective customers across a variety of B2B industries came together to learn from one another how to tackle common modern-day commercial challenges.
Here are five takeaways from MindShare Europe 2019.
The Behind-the-Scenes Value of MindShare
Between you and us, Zilliant isn’t the reason most folks attend Zilliant MindShare. People attend for the opportunity to meet peers in different industries that are trying to solve similar pricing and sales challenges. We don’t take it personally. In fact, it’s hugely rewarding to be able to provide the setting for no-nonsense, high-level B2B knowledge sharing.
It was even revealed that two of our customers from unrelated business sectors met at last year’s event, and now get together on a monthly call independent of Zilliant to share ideas and best practices learned over years of working with the platform. Plenty more connections were made again this year.
“Communicate. Communicate. Train. Communicate.”
Every organization that embarks on a data science-backed pricing or sales transformation comes up against the same roadblocks: adoption and change management. Legacy tools and processes are deeply ingrained in the fabric of a company’s selling approach. Simply dropping a new software platform into people’s laps has about as much chance of changing behavior as a downed tree branch has at interrupting the flow of Niagara Falls.
One of our MindShare keynote speakers, the vice president of pricing at a global medical consumables distributor, keeps the mantra “Communicate. Communicate. Train. Communicate.” front and center. After implementing Price IQ and Sales IQ, she and her team went on a roadshow around Europe to learn from and teach each sales branch. From her keynote address:
“Sales was involved at every stage of the rollout. Different customers have totally different expectations, so cost-plus was not a sustainable model anymore. They need a tool which helps them and not an enemy, which can be hard to convince a 25-years-in-the-company sales rep. But they’ve started to like it because it makes their life easier.”
Without that focus on change management, sales adoption would not have happened. Instead, after starting in France and Germany, this company has rolled out Zilliant guidance to all 19 countries it operates in and continues to yield positive results.
Adoption is Not One-Size-Fits-All
Another keynote speaker, Nadia Villum Nielsen from AO Johansen, addressed the adoption challenge from a unique perspective. Hailing from Denmark, Nadia educated the audience on the cultural differences between Scandinavia and the rest of Europe, and how it impacted the way she approached change management.
“I tried the carrot, I tried the stick. I tried getting upper management involved. I tried everything, but it wasn’t working,” she said. “So I decided to look at culture.”
She studied the work of a man named Geert Hofstede, who analyzed cultural differences between countries to determine how they affect the way people work. By the measure of Hofstede’s cultural dimensions theory, Denmark has a very low power distance in its culture, relative to neighbors like France. This means the Danish do not accept unequally distributed power as easily. Employees are expected to be autonomous, and in return, expect to be consulted on any major new decision. An edict from on high is ineffective. Another cultural consideration is how people measure success. In Denmark, the dominant value is quality of life, rather than money. Thus, any financial incentive-based adoption plan would also fall flat. However, more time off is a big motivator, so Nadia decided to focus on how much time they’d all save with a better approach to pricing across all channels.
“Imagine this: you expect autonomy from your employees and so when you tell them to go do this, you need to do this, they’re not going to say, ‘OK yes ma’am,’” she said.
Instead, she embarked on a horizontal change management approach. She worked to get the buy-in of one or two sales reps that had informal power/influence over the rest. Once a few reps saw the value, they helped socialize the new pricing strategy with their peers and adoption has grown – the Danish way!
Omnichannel is Becoming Omnipresent
B2B buyers are everywhere, and the experience you give them at every touchpoint is expected to be convenient, relevant and fair. MindShare attendees spoke about the increasing need to deliver consistent pricing online and offline, through distribution partners and direct to consumer, and even via B2B2C models. Each channel presents its own set of challenges, but also vast opportunity.
METRO Turkey shared its experience evolving from a straight B2C Cash n’ Carry business to a full service B2B food service distributor serving hospitals, restaurants and other entities. In order to be successful in this endeavor, METRO needed a price optimization platform that could rationalize prices across both channels.
At the roundtable session on eCommerce, participants talked about challenges they face when extending their product offerings to the web. Some are just starting out and others more mature, but the trend is clear. Whether their customers are pulling them to eCommerce or there’s an internal push to embrace the newest B2B channel, distributors and manufacturers need to be selling online, which means they also need an omnichannel pricing strategy. Much of this conversation centered around how to determine the price on items the customer has never purchased before, and how data science can optimize list and matrix prices online to address this concern. Another big issue in Europe is managing list prices across multiple countries. When a new marketplace trigger hits, an automated system can deliver real-time market pricing and apply changes to each effected geography.
Networking is Better in Shorts
A big thanks to everyone who came out for the early morning fun run!
Thanks to all of our MindShare Europe 2019 attendees for making it an impactful and entertaining event! Keep an eye out for details on MindShare Europe 2020.
Contact us for help in building the business case that sets you on the path to success!