Consulting News, Expert Talks

Discussing Pricing Strategies with Johan Maessen

by Claudia Arena on 24 Sep 2019

We sat down with Johan, a pricing expert with 10 years of experience to learn more about his vision to help organisations develop better pricing strategies, and the project work he has delivered to clients with Riverflex.

“Riverflex Expert Talks” is our new content series putting the spotlight on Riverflex’s digital experts to chat about their vision and experience supporting organisations. For our first publication, we had a chance to sit down with Johan, a pricing expert with 10 years of experience. Learn more about his vision to help organisations develop better pricing strategies, and the project work he has delivered to clients with Riverflex.


Hi Johan, thanks for chatting with us today. First, tell us a bit more about your background and interests.

I’m a pricing expert. I’ve spent ten years in the corporate world. Firstly, working directly for ING and Nationale-Nederlanden. Afterward, in consulting at Simon Kucher & Partners. There I acquired and perfected the knowledge in pricing and commercial excellence that nowadays I offer to my clients.


Let’s talk pricing. What type of work do you do in pricing?

Whether you sell a product or service, it needs a price tag. Developing a price model entails thinking of what, how, when and how often to monetise your product or service. In other words, what value does a customer get for the buck they pay? That’s at the core of what I do, but I also execute projects in related fields like commercial strategy and sales.


What trends do you see in the pricing field? How do you see it evolving?

What I’m witnessing lately is that digitalisation is rapidly changing the way companies structure their propositions. More and more organisations nowadays have propositions with a digital component, but no knowledge or expertise on how to go to market with it. Pricing, of course, plays a big part in this – and I see it becoming more and more relevant.


What are some of the biggest mistakes organisations make regarding their pricing strategies?

Pricing strategies can be executed based on three different principles. Firstly, you have cost + pricing, where you look at costs and put a margin to define the price of your service/product. Secondly, is looking at competitors and positioning your pricing strategy accordingly. Finally, you can look at value, understanding how your customers value you and your product. These approaches are increasingly complex, and their implementation depends on your company’s maturity.

Pricing strategies based on competitors and values are the areas where I see most organisations struggling. When it comes to competitors, often organisations don’t spend the necessary time or have the required expertise to figure out what their competitors are doing.

As of value, it’s a relatively new approach. It requires a different way of thinking, which most organisations are not used to. To extract value, interviews or questionnaires are great ways to talk with clients about the value they experience. Those conversations either wouldn’t happen at all or do not cover value-related topics!


If you were able to give three pieces of advice to organisations looking to implement a pricing strategy, what would that be?

First of all, it’s great that they want to set up a pricing strategy! Then, quite simply…

  1. Talk to your clients. Understand which value they experience with your product. That’s what you need for your pricing strategy.
  2. Look at your data.
  3. Keep it simple – start playing with your data, test, but start simple.


You have joined the Riverflex community at the beginning of the year. What inspired you to join? And what has been the highlight of your experience?

I was approached for a pricing opportunity at the beginning of the year. Before, I didn’t know Riverflex. I was curious about how the concept would work in reality – and after a few months working together, I can say I’ve been positively surprised by the quality of work produced and the ambition of the Riverflex team. Plus it’s been absolutely great working with Victor [Riverflex co-founder]!

The project we are currently working on, supporting the creation of a digital selling platform for a fashion retailer, has been the highlight of my Riverflex experience so far. We have been involved from the start, and it’s great to see it take form and develop into a big project.  Recently, based on our deliverables, the global CFO has expressed newfound trust in the project. For us, it’s really great to see our customers make use of our input and value it. It really makes us proud!


What type of work are you excited to do in the future? How do you see your career evolving as an independent?

I’m excited to develop more pricing projects and a pricing proposition with Riverflex, I see a lot of room for opportunity and the potential to do great work together.

I also have the ambition to make my knowledge available to smaller companies, more SME companies. In the future, I’d like to discover how I can make my knowledge available via more accessible, lower-priced solutions to help even smaller companies get started in pricing.

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