Say “Hello” to Velo’s Co-Innovator, Brian Sharp
December 16, 2020
Peeking Behind the Curtain to Say Hello to Velo’s Co-innovator: Brian Sharp
Velo is the industry’s first strategic negotiation solution specifically designed to help sellers maximize value on large-deal negotiations.
Combining world-class software with a unique service offering, it derives its name from Pricefx’s ValueEstimator (VE) and LargeDealOptimizer (LO) modules, which have been paired with Profit Velocity’s methodology to create a unique offering to companies managing large and highly complex negotiations.
An Asymmetrical Competitive Landscape and an Unmet Market Need
For many B2B companies, more than 50% of their revenue comes from their top 5-10% of customers, making those customers vital to the company’s survival. As demand changes, contracts expire, and adjustments are made to agreements, buyers and sellers both seek to optimize their own positions.
For many sellers, this means staying on top of a plethora of components, numerous spreadsheets and time-consuming manual processes, while pushing to achieve a price that reflects the total value their company creates for their largest customers. On the other side of the negotiation table, the buyer is often leveraging smart collaboration, analytical tools and 3rd party sourcing event management services. Add to this, the risk suppliers have, related to threatened-loss-of-business to competition, and buyers hold a distinct advantage over their suppliers. By comparison, the sellers’ negotiation power is marginalized and they are vulnerable to discounting prices and giving away unjustified concessions.
Say ‘hello’ to Velo. Profit Velocity and Pricefx have combined a proven-deal negotiation methodology with innovative technology to empower enterprises facing large scale, high stakes negotiations. Swapping out tribal wisdom and outmoded CPQ technology for a world-class negotiation readiness methodology enabled by a strategic software solution powered by data and flexible automation, sellers will be able to maximize profitability as an outcome of critical negotiations.
The Story of How Brian Created a Win-Win-Win for Everyone
Brian Sharp, Chief Revenue Officer and the unofficial ‘profit guru, at Profit Velocity, is a chemical engineer by education, and a seller by profession. Somewhere along his business career in sales and marketing roles, he encountered pricing as a discipline.
“I’ve got this interesting mix of engineering, selling and very technical quantitative pricing as a background. Many people know me as a pricing practitioner… some might consider me a pricing expert.”
In his last two roles, he has been the single point of accountability for enterprise profit growth for multi-billion-dollar industrial companies.
Brian joined Sealed Air Corporation (packaging and container specialists) in 2011 as Global VP Commercial Management and worked alongside the CEO to transform the profitability of the enterprise through pricing discipline.
“But we realized that the existing data and analytics solutions around pricing were not really addressing the unique challenges presented by these large, monolithic, episodic deals.”
This led to the development of a unique process-centered approach which they initially applied to about a dozen, massive, multi-million dollar deals. Along the way, he assembled a comprehensive set of quantitative and contextual tools. These fit-for-purpose tools have played no small part in Brian’s journey and to the launch of Velo.
Brian then joined Sonoco (global provider of a variety of consumer packaging and industrial products) as Global Growth Leader in 2017, literally days after the company had culminated a multi-year selection process for pricing software. They had chosen Pricefx. So, his new role kicked off with him working alongside Pricefx on an implementation in one of Sonoco’s businesses.
“We found Pricefx fast, flexible, and, yes indeed, friendly. As I was spearheading the implementation of commercial transformation initiatives at Sonoco, it got me to thinking about how Pricefx’s platform could be extended to provide workflow and analytical insights to support these extra-ordinarily large and risky deal scenarios.”
It was during his three years at Sonoco that Brian started exchanging ideas with Marcin Cichon and Martin Wricke, the two co-founders of Pricefx. The trio were curious about this still-overlooked portion of the revenue mix – large, complex deals.
Brian explains that the buy side of the negotiation relationship—especially the procurement departments of large corporations—has made a lot of investment in 3rd party software technology, sourcing event processes, and fit-for-purpose advisory services all focused on squeezing costs out of their suppliers. Meanwhile, the sell side has been ‘stuck in a rut’ – chiefly investing in negotiation training, treating negotiation readiness as an individual skill rather than as a key corporate process and a mission-critical organizational capability.
“The competitive landscape is asymmetric. You’ve got this environment where, for reasons I can’t fully explain, the buy side has significantly out-invested the sell side, at least in this one facet – the process of negotiation readiness.”
So, while the buy side is armed with well-honed sourcing event methodology and software to drive their large negotiations, the sell-side is using a patchwork of disparate software, spreadsheets, and email. It isn’t a ‘fair fight’ and as a result, sellers aren’t getting the share of value they have earned and deserve at the negotiation table.
Brian was one of the early buyers of price optimization software and has been involved with the industry for over 20 years. “I have been watching Pricefx emerge since 2015. They’ve been such a positive, disruptive player in price optimization software.”
So earlier this year, Marcin and Brian proposed creating a separate service-based business that would complement Pricefx’s vision create a large deal management solution within the Pricefx offering. Through collaboration, with Profit Velocity and its CEO and founder, Michael Rothschild, the final puzzle piece fell into place. ‘Say hello to Velo’ as they say: Profit Velocity joined Pricefx’s Advantage Partner program and together the companies set their sights on launching Velo.
When asked about what he hopes customers of Velo will get out of the offering, he replied:
“Increased profits. It’s really about helping suppliers get their fair share of the value they create for their customers. Velo has been designed to boost confidence through a structured approach to negotiation readiness, increase top-to-bottom alignment on negotiation strategy and risk taking, while maximizing the supplier’s negotiating power. On large deals, process and analytical insight beat individual negotiating skill, and it’s not even close.”
Velo brings some balance back to the asymmetric war procurement has been waging on suppliers. By integrating a structured process, scenario-based negotiation playbooks, contextual analysis tools like Pricefx VE and Pricefx LO, Velo provides suppliers with an effective and proven approach to drive world-class negotiation readiness on the most consequential commercial situations they face.
“Velo is negotiation readiness-as-a service. Suppliers can buy the solution for a single deal, but most leverage Velo across multiple deals spanning their entire enterprise. For example, many large enterprises isolate their next 10-20 big contract negotiations or RFP’s—a revenue portfolio which might exceed over $100 million/year, or even $1 billion/year. They view Velo as an insurance policy to make sure that those deal teams are managing their negotiations with world-class negotiation readiness.”
Brian proudly states that the Velo drives breakthrough financial results—the kind of outcomes which seem too audacious or impossible to achieve. “It stands to reason, suppliers should be advantaged vs. buyers. They operate against their competition 365 days a year. But, somehow, buyers have turned this natural advantage into a disadvantage. Buyers are more process-centered. They hire 3rd party negotiators. They acquire mathematic solutions like ‘should cost modeling’ software. They turn category sourcing events into money-taking exercises leveraging workflow software from companies like Coupa. Their goal is to make the incumbent feel vulnerable to drive unjustified concessions. Velo brings suppliers the knowhow to offset these tools and tactics and leverage the full negotiation power of the supplier’s institutional, contextual and quantitative knowledge of their business.”
Negotiation Readiness: Maximizing on Large Deals
Velo is a one-of-a-kind solution for companies to drive profit-maximizing outcomes on their most important negotiations. It can be bought as a standalone software solution from Pricefx or as an integrated negotiation readiness-as-a-service solution.
It is comprised of two modules:
ValueEstimator gives sellers the ability to understand customer value drivers for product sales and to link customer value, pricing decision making and value estimation to reflect this.
LargeDealOptimizer enables enterprise B2B companies to get the most value and profit from the customers that generate the majority of their revenue, whether selling products directly, as a distributor to end customers, or to other distributors. It does so by providing contextual information about deals, governance, process and frameworks in one central location to provide context around previous quotes, price changes and value estimation.
But amidst all this serious tech talk, Brian reminds us that big customers are meant to be fun! And that one of the things negotiation readiness does is help suppliers find enjoyment in interacting with their largest customers. It allows them to find breakthrough sources of value that lead to strategic partnerships and alliances. He explains that Velo is all about finding new ways to collaborate in advance of the negotiation.
“Working with your largest customers should be fun. Yes, you need to take care of the transactional elements, but you can do so in a way where both parties leave feeling that they’re sharing the value they created by working together.”