Price Differentiation


A common response during slow demand is to discount the price of the service. This strategy relies on basic economics of supply and demand. To be effective, however, a price differentiation strategy depends on solid understanding of customer price sensitivity and demand curves.

Heave use of price differentiation to smooth demand can be a risky strategy. Over –reliance on price can result in price wars in any industry where eventually all competitors suffer. Price wars are well known in the airline industry, where total industry profits suffered as a result of airlines simultaneously trying to attract customers through price discounting.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Changing Buying and Selling Processes


Winning companies are all focused on speed to market, cost reduction, and customer satisfaction—whether buying or selling goods, services, and solutions. Today, many leading companies are changing their selling processes and tools, including the following actions:

  • Expanding self-service sales via Web-based sales catalogs of products and related services available to buyers.
  • Creating customized electronic interfaces between themselves and their strategic customers to facilitate rapid order receipt and order processing. Typically, sellers provide their most favored customers with preferred pricing or large discounts.
  • Offering multinational companies global pricing policies for products and services with economic-related adjustments, i.e., variations due to labor rates in specific countries or regions, inflation or deflation, value-added taxes, etc.
  • Developing standard statements of work, acceptance criteria, and standards intervals for consistent on-time delivery worldwide.
  • Understanding the buyer’s business needs and budget in order to develop customized solutions priced to fit the buyer’s desired business case.
  • Providing financing to buyers to help them purchase products when required.
  • Offering extended payment terms to customers, well beyond the usual net—15 days, or net—30 days to net—90 days or net—180 days.
  • Developing Web portals to facilitate rapid and direct communications between sellers and their strategic partners.
  • Providing countertrade, offsets, or counter purchases, in order to secure large purchases.

These actions are just a few of the many innovative process changes, tools, or unique business arrangements that sellers are using to build successful partnerships with their best buyers.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Purchasing Information


Basic data that should be systematically collected include:

  • Purchase item number and description
  • Quantity required
  • Date item required
  • Date purchase requisition received or authorized
  • Purchase requisition or authorization number
  • Supplier(s) quoted
  • Date supplier(s) quoted
  • Date quotes required from supplier(s)
  • Supplier quote(s)
  • Supplier price discount schedule
  • Purchase order number
  • Date purchase order placed
  • Purchase price per unit
  • Quantity or percent of annual requirements purchased
  • Planned purchase price per unit
  • Supplier name
  • Supplier address
  • Supplier promise ship date
  • Supplier lead time (days or weeks for purchase item)
  • Date purchase item received
  • Quantity received
  • Purchase item accepted or rejected (unit/lot)
  • Storage location
  • Buyer
  • Work unit
  • Requested price change
  • Effective date of requested price change
  • Date price change approved
  • Ship to location

These basic transaction data are needed for purchasing decisions and management control systems, especially if these are computerized.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Price Breaks the Rules


In retail business there are three cardinal rules: 1) Do anything you can to lure in customers; 2) build on the bedrock of “location; 3) keep your doors open as long as possible. The express lane at the Price Club is 2,000 items or less.

Not only are the Price Club’s huge discount warehouses in atypical, out of the way locations, but people actually pay to get in the door, and you need an elephant’s memory to figure out there hours. When value is high, people are willing to spend a small fortune and travel to faraway places.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, and my Lectures.

Quantity Discounts from Supplier


Quantity discounts are very common for goods of all types, whether retail, wholesale, or industrial. Although there are many different types of quality discount procedures employed, there are two that are the most important: all-units and incremental. In both cases there are one or more quantity break-points, defining changes in the unit cost. The all-units case simply applies the discount effective in an interval to all units of the order; the incremental method applies the discount only to the units past the breakpoint. In either case, we wish to minimize an average cost function which is smooth on an individual interval but changes for the next interval. Thus, we may simply minimize costs on each interval, and choose the minimum of these. In turn, on each segment, the minimum occurs.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Hypergrowth in Companies


Hypergrowth is not just a feature of private companies with a profit motive. The public sector can also undergo hypergrowth, often providing growth opportunities for private companies. In the main, however, the days of big government appear to be over. Current trends for the state to be less of an actual provider of services and more a facilitator and purchaser of them from the private sector.

Companies and corporations welcome hypergrowth because of the perception that they will make more profit and thus be more attractive to investors. This is a reasonable perception provided that the hypergrowth is managed efficiently. If, however, it is poorly managed the company may well end up in trouble despite rapid growth.

It is also true that the larger an organization is the more power it can wield and the more it can dictate to its suppliers in order to obtain the discounts the economies of scale can offer. If a company buys 9 percent of one supplier’s product, the company is highly dependent on that supplier to deliver on time. If it buys 90 percent, it can dictate the terms because of it withdraws its business then the supplier will have a major problem. Many suppliers often express delight at gaining a huge contract with a large corporation only to be dismayed later on as that corporation begins to drive down the price. No organization should ever be completely dependent on another.

Just occasionally there are companies that do not want to grow – their owners are happy with them as they are. The danger is not growing, however, is being a target for acquisition by those who are. Hypergrowth is normally presented as a positive thing. For the individual who has not considered its implications it can be threatening. In a hypergrowth situation, change can occur rapidly and change is often uncomfortable. Senior managers should be aware that hypergrowth may produce fear in employees as well as pleasure and pride.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Managing a Shortage


In the real world, equilibrium prices are always changing. A flood in Brazil may cause the price of coffee to rise; good farming weather in the Midwest will lead to a fall in the price of wheat; advancing technology steadily lowers the price of computers. If enough people are drastically affected by the price change the government may decide to do something about it—whether wisely or unwisely. Rising apartment rents will lead to pressure for rent control, falling wheat prices will lead to pressure for agricultural price supports, and so forth.

When the government controls the price of a good below the market-clearing level, there will be a “shortage.” A shortage is not the same as scarcity. Scarcity simply means that not all desires can be satisfied, and so scarcity is always present. Diamonds are scarce, but there is no shortage—anyone who can pay the price of a diamond can buy one. A shortage exists when goods are not just expensive but unavailable to some people—except perhaps by unlawful means. In a city with rent controls, newcomers may be unable to rent an apartment at all, regardless of their willingness to pay. Thus, faced with a supply shift or demand shift dictating a higher equilibrium price, consumers are bound to lose out one way or the other—either from the higher price if the market adjustment proceeds unimpeded, or from the “shortages” that follow when government interventions keep the price low.

Using the concepts of short-run and long-run supply, let us trace out the consequences of coping with upward pressures on price by imposing a “ceiling.” There are some less visible consequences of price ceiling. Unable to raise price openly, firms may use subtler strategies. They may eliminate discounts or seasonal sales, reduce quality or variety or convenience of their offerings, or concentrate production in product lines that happen to have received a better break from the price-control authorities. Supplies may be sold abroad, leaving even less available for domestic consumers. And of course black markets may arise, providing a wider scope for people specializing in illegal activity. In extreme cases, there may be a breakdown of legitimate trade. In this connection, we can learn much from a previous great inflationary episode associate with World War 11 and its aftermath.

My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Staying Close to Customers


  • Show them that you think of them. Send or fax helpful newspaper clippings, relevant articles, and greeting and birthday cards. How about sending a card on the anniversary of the day they became your customers?
  • Tell them what’s new. It is a good way to stay in touch and increase sales or get referrals.
  • Offer “valued customer” discounts. These can take the form of coupons, letters, or other sales promotions. This not only garners more orders; it also makes your customers happy to be getting such good deals.
  • Compensate customers for lost time or money if they were caused by problems with your product or service. Use a well thought-out recovery program and stick to it. Better to err on the side of generosity than lose an account out of stinginess!
  • Be personal. Keep notes in your customer files on every little detail you know—everything from spouse and children’s names to hobbies, and especially their behavioral style.
  • Always be honest. Nothing undermines your credibility more severely than dishonesty. Lies have a way of coming back to haunt you.
  • Accept returns unconditionally. The few bucks you might lose in the short run are far less than what you gain from pleasing the customer.
  • Honor your customer’s privacy. If you have been a truly consultative salesperson, you may possess some knowledge that should be kept confidential. Your ethical standards should demand that you keep it that way.
  • Keep your promises. Never, ever promise something that you cannot deliver. This principle applies to little things such as returning phone calls as well as big things like delivery dates. If you must, ‘baby-sit’ deliveries and promised service to see that they are realized. Your reputation is on the line.
  • Give feedback on referrals. This is the right way to show your appreciation for the referral. Tell your customer the outcome. This is also a good way to get more referrals without asking for them directly.
  • Make your customers famous … for 15 minutes. If your enterprise has a newsletter, ask customers for permission to write about their success. Then send a copy to your customer. The same can be done for local newspapers and other publications.
  • Keep lines of communication open. As in any relationship, assure your customers that you are open to all calls about everything and anything – ideas, grievance, advice, praise, questions etc. This is one ay to maintain that all-important rapport.

 Remember that people do business with people they like!

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight

Financial Analysis: Real Problems


The term financial analysis  when applied to new products conjures up visions of sales forecasts and profit calculations. By using traditional financial analysis, we can get a good read on the current proposal.

 Actually, sales forecasts and financial analysis systems are no problem as such. We have an immense warhead of forecasting methodologies, most based on many years of experience. We know, for example, what makes for sales. This model does an excellent job and serves as the basis for some very advanced mathematical systems used by some of the most sophisticated new product marketers in the world. And every firm has people who can make an income-statement-based net present value calculation (using discounted cash flow methods). We have had years of experience with it.

 The financial model requires product cost, prices, the current value of money, probable taxes on the future income, the amount of further capital investments that will be required between now and when we close the books on the product and much more.

 They will never be certain, even after living out the product’s life cycle. Sales will be known, but we might have had a better marketing strategy. Costs are always just estimates. We will never know the true extent to which a new item cannibalized sales from another product. If we had not marketed the new item a competitor probably would have. And on and on.

 The fact is, we rely on estimated. Management’s task is ot to make the estimates as we can and then manage around the areas of uncertainty in a way that we do’t get hurt too badly.

 On minor product improvements we do this pretty well. On near line extensions, we also do well, but with more misses. Totally new products, using technologies never so applied before, are pure guessing games.

 My Consultancy–Asif J. Mir – Management Consultant–transforms organizations where people have the freedom to be creative, a place that brings out the best in everybody–an open, fair place where people have a sense that what they do matters. For details please visit www.asifjmir.com, Line of Sight