How to Counteract Inflationary Pressure

By Zilliant

Aug 09, 2022

Inflation is our new reality. The phenomenon is exacerbated, and in some ways caused by, supply chain turmoil and an inventory shortage.

B2B companies can ill afford to sit idly by and wait for the worst to pass. Manufacturers and distributors are experiencing cost increases from their suppliers, difficult conversations with their customers, and a cloudy forecast.

Counteract Inflationary Pressure

Last year, the Harvard Business Review reported that the inflationary macroeconomic situation is unfamiliar to many company executives:

Most corporate leaders have not dealt with macro inflation during their careers, leaving them unsure of how to proceed. At one manufacturer, for instance, the CFO recently told us that although revenues have grown steadily, the bottom line fills him with dread, as spiking costs for raw material, labor, and energy have reduced profit margins from 15% to 10%.

A food manufacturer is suddenly staring at a $200 million hole because of exploding commodity prices. And a building products manufacturer, experiencing the highest sales and worst margins in 20 years, discovered that one of its distribution channels — historically an attractive, high-volume channel — is now unprofitable in absolute terms, as weekly cost fluctuations and supply chain delays wreak havoc.

In this article, we will describe why acting with speed, agility and precision is the key to weathering inflationary pressure. By doing so, you can meet your commercial performance metrics. We will also discuss the importance of clear communication once price updates have been made. For your convenience, we have also included links to relevant and original Zilliant content items on inflation response strategies.

price increase


Inflationary periods are revelatory. They separate the leaders from the laggards in near real time. In the era of digital commerce, this separation happens right out in the open for all B2B buyers to witness.

You must act swiftly to maintain an edge against your competition. The ability to quickly and precisely update prices in advance of a cost increase is critical to bottom line performance. You may even decide to raise prices before your competition. You then need to be able to quickly calculate how much to raise them by, so as not to torpedo sales.

Where possible, raise prices in line with inflation, but always with an eye on price elasticity. When a cost increase occurs, pass it through as soon as possible. It's important to do this in a surgical manner, as opposed to an across-the-board price increase.

For many companies, the status quo for a cost-driven price increase is 30-90 days. If this is your reality, that is an indicator that it is time to invest in pricing software.

Though it may seem counterintuitive, a well-thought-out discounting strategy can bear fruit even in times of inflation. Surgical price reductions and strategic rebate programs can shape demand toward product categories in which you carry high or excess inventory. Make sales reps aware of relevant product substitution opportunities to retain business even if their first choice of product is unavailable.

communicate price increase


Pricing is your most powerful lever to pull to mitigate the downward pressure on margins that inflation represents. But even the most optimized price changes can confuse or fluster your customers without the right communication strategy. Pair science and communication to “seize an opportunity to solidify trust and reputation by addressing supply chain issues and inflation head-on.” (Gartner)

Inflation is not a secret. Customers expect to pay higher prices right now. They will appreciate transparency into how and why your prices are going up. Keep them informed of inventory status and expected availability dates for out-of-stock items as well.

Many B2B companies conduct business via long-term contracts, some of which are governed by volume commitments. Inflationary pressure is particularly acute in these scenarios, as contracts signed 12 months ago don't account for skyrocketing costs. Ideally, you have written clauses into each contract that allow for cost-driven increases or shortage of inventory.

Even in such instances, however, a price hike may lead customers to seek out another supplier, putting volume commitments at risk. Identification, communication and remediation of these problems is the key to preventing severe profit loss or relationship crises.

Similarly, direct and open communication with your suppliers is more critical than ever. Work together to plan product availability, forecast wait times and establish reasonable allocation strategies where necessary. A collaborative relationship with upstream suppliers will empower your teams to be more proactive and decisive in communications with end customers. Getting out in front of upcoming cost hikes is also invaluable to the efficacy of your pricing models.


It is nearly impossible to effectively respond to inflationary pressure in a timely manner using traditional B2B pricing and sales tools. There is not enough time or resources to update prices and deliver them to sellers and customers. There is too much data coming in too quickly.

The following resources will guide you in ditching the spreadsheets and legacy systems for a more effective inflation response toolset. Namely, data science-driven price optimization and sales effectiveness engines, and centralized, cloud-native applications to manage rebates, campaigns and prices.

Inflationary Pressure - Important Resources

Inflation and Pricing: Time is of the Essence

Our most downloaded whitepaper of 2021 lays out four proven pricing strategies to respond effectively to inflation. Read about how to pair speed with intelligence to make the surgical price increases.

Six Inflation Tips from Pricing Experts

We asked leading experts how they advise clients to win now while setting up their business for long-term success. Access in written form here.

B2B Reimagined Podcast Episode #44: Inflation as a Pricing Opportunity

This episode explores all the surprising, yet hidden, pricing opportunities that exist during inflationary periods. Our guest Dick Sobel of PricePoint Partners revealed these gems for listeners honed across decades of experience.

B2B Reimagined Podcast Episode #28: Pricing in Times of Inflation

PwC Consumer Markets Pricing and Profitability Practice Leader David Moss joined the show to share specific strategies and tactics for B2B leaders. Learn how to turn these strategies into decisive action with Zilliant software.

Build a Better Sales Team

Download our latest eBook to discover how to equip your sales team with targeted customer actions driven by predictive sales analytics. These actions guide your reps to execute a variety of critical initiatives during this tumultuous time. These include churn prevention, product substitution and contract compliance.

2022 Advice on Inflation, Dynamic Pricing & More

Zilliant thought leaders recently opined on the need for rapid price execution in 2022 as inflation persists. Also: why the right tools are needed to increase price agility and power dynamic, real-time pricing.

What is Dynamic Pricing?

Inflation is the most impactful pricing trigger for most B2B companies today. Learn how to power a dynamic pricing strategy to respond to this trigger intelligently in real time across every sales channel.

What is Price Optimization?

By leveraging data science, you can create a statistically relevant price segmentation structure that accounts for customer and product price elasticity. Read our primer to learn how best to combat inflationary pressure.

An Introduction to Price Management

Effectively passing through cost increases and other price management functions require a centralized, transparent and efficient price management application. Learn how to regain control and operationalize pricing with our price management primer.

Get in touch with a Zilliant pricing expert today.

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