Yogesh Deep (Advance Auto Parts) - A Great Potion

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This is a podcast episode titled, Yogesh Deep (Advance Auto Parts) - A Great Potion. The summary for this episode is: <p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Yogesh Deep, Senior Vice President of Growth and Strategic Pricing at Advance Auto Parts, shares his journey of how he started out as a chemical engineer to his current role with the company. Along with Advance’s B2B operations, he also discusses the success of giving frontline team members authority to override their pricing system in-store. Ajay is glad to not be on a billboard, and Vincent wishes he owned a car.</span></p>
Good Customer Care to Drive Growth
00:51 MIN
The Function of Data in the Business World: Pricing
01:19 MIN
Managing Consistent and Fair Pricing
00:58 MIN
Finding a Career in Pricing
01:00 MIN

Jared Walls: Welcome to The Marketing Stir podcast by Stirista, probably the most entertaining marketing podcast you're going to put in your ears. I'm Jared Walls, associate producer and Starista's creative content manager. The goal of this podcast is to chat with industry leaders to get their take on the current challenges of the market but also have a little fun along the way. In this episode, Vincent and Ajay talk to Yogesh Deep, senior vice president, growth and strategic pricing at Advance Auto Parts. He shares his journey of how we started out as a chemical engineer to his current role with the company. Along with Advance's B2B operations, he discusses the success of giving frontline team members inaudible, override the pricing system in store. Ajay is glad to not be in a billboard and Vincent wishes he owned a car. Give it a listen.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Ladies and gentlemen, it's me Vincent Pietrafesa, that must mean it's another episode of Stirista's, The Marketing Stir. I am one of your hosts Vincent, the vice- president of B2B products and partnerships here at Stirista. If you're not familiar with Stirista, really quick, let's pay the bills, I always like saying that we're really not paying any bills. Stirista, we are an identity marketing company, marketing technology, we have our own B2B data, our own B2C data. We help clients, partners utilize that data, customer acquisition, email marketing, you could also serve ads, we own our own DSP, connected TV display. Email me at Vincent @ starista.com, that is how confident I feel we can help you, I just gave you my email address. I'm also confident about this next person, he is my commander in chief, the CEO, just look on LinkedIn Ajay Gupta, he is everywhere. Every major publication recently, I love it. He to me is my co- host but we also call him the San Antonio slayer, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Ajay Gupta. What's up Ajay?

Ajay Gupta: Hey Vincent. Thanks for that introduction, I'm still waiting to get into Time Magazine so, if you have any connections, let me know.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I do not, but Ink you're just an Ink. This guy is a, I think you were on a billboard at one point in San Antonio, you can't go anywhere without knowing Mr. Ajay Gupta.

Ajay Gupta: Yeah. The billboard story is funny, well, I did make it to a billboard but somebody else in the same organization made it on the billboard for raising the most money for LLS and unfortunately the billboard placement was right over a pawn store, so.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Oh, no. That's crazy what?

Ajay Gupta: A little bit controversial there, so.

Vincent Pietrafesa: That is. So, you were on that billboard?

Ajay Gupta: Not on that particular one which is, I finished second so, I made it to another billboard but the first place winners got on top of the pawn store. So, that's what I thought was best I finished second.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. That's when you're like, you know what? The silver medal not so bad, I'll take the silver medal. What's new with Ajay? So tell people why you're in all these different publications? I know we think we've mentioned some of the great news at Starista, but I just shared a nice poster featured in Ink, tell us about that real quick?

Ajay Gupta: Yeah, I think we've just been growing so much that we're getting a lot of inbound requests and especially growth during COVID I think was well received and obviously, I mean, it's a great thing that we kept growing as well. But the recent acquisitions have helped as well elevate the profile of the company.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, absolutely. And you're getting so great at this podcast thing because you mentioned the word growth a few times and our next guest is responsible for growth as well as strategic pricing. Now, you're like wait a minute, I want to learn more about that title. Yes, it's exactly why we have this next amazing guest, he's very interesting from a company, have you have heard of this company? There is a rock that you are living under and I'm sure if that rock was in New York city, the rent would be crazy. But our next guest, ladies and gentlemen from Advance Auto Parts, look at The Marketing Stir, bringing you powerful brands, ladies and gentlemen. Advance Auto Parts, if I owned a car, I would use Advance Auto Parts, our producers are already gushing over Advance Auto Parts but let's gush over this next guest senior vice president growth and strategic pricing, Yogesh Deep. What's going on Yogesh?

Yogesh Deep: Hey Vincent, hey Ajay, nice to be here. Thank you for having me and thanks for the great word for such a great company, Advance Auto Parts, couldn't be more proud of working for this fantastic, a great iconic brand and company so, glad to be here.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, no, we're happy to have you and I love your background that Advance Auto Parts logo there. Yogesh, I was really interested, obviously Advance Auto Parts, everyone knows it, I've been very familiar with it and like I said, even though I don't own a car now, I did own a car and that's where I went but I would love to understand your specific position. And maybe it's a position that's normal in some of those aspects of retail but I've never heard of that particular, growth I've heard but talk to us about your position and what that entails at Advance Auto Parts?

Yogesh Deep: Yeah, certainly. So, I'll start with our motto right, at Advance Auto Parts, we believe in taking care of our customers with speed, care and speed. That's what really drives every single one of us every single day. And we want to take care of our customers, we want to give them inaudible, and that's where the pricing aspect comes in. So, from a strategic pricing standpoint is the moment of truth between a customer as they go through their decision journey to go and make a purchase from us, whether they should really buy from us or not at that moment in time is determined by pricing. And that's what I really do inaudible, and eventually culminating into that inaudible, which we could do to deliver to our customers. And it's in the way of driving the growth, that's something which is really unique. A lot of times pricing is viewed and it's a role which actually is pretty common across the company more than so that I started off my career. But it's very easy to use pricing to go and drive your margin, right? It's very ready, I would say interesting for the lack of a better word to go use pricing to go and drive growth as well but that's really hurting your other stakeholders. So, that's what I do every single day, I drive growth with profitability, and I'm trying to just use pricing as one of those levels.

Vincent Pietrafesa: And talk to me about how you got into this business, I mean, you worked at companies like Best Buy, OfficeMax, right? And now Advance Auto Parts. What was the path to this particular role? Is it analytics? What did you study in school? We would love to hear the origin story?

Yogesh Deep: Yeah. You know what? So, I'm a chemical engineer by background, and after I finished my chemical engineering, I was sitting one day and I said, you know what? I want to be the senior vice president of growth and strategic pricing. And here I am, right. So, it was that easy.

Vincent Pietrafesa: You came up with a great potion inaudible, for that right. Chemical engineering no, I don't know.

Yogesh Deep: Yeah. Well, it's a great question, I don't know myself how I landed here, but I'm really glad I have. I think as I look back as you asked me this question and I look back, I think I was very curious, I wasn't really satisfied with the status quo, I'll tell you my first job as a chemical engineer, was at a Naphtha Cracking Plant, don't ask me right now what Naphtha is, but it's the mothership of all plastic, right. And I would ask the question, why the hell am I producing today at 80%? And the other day somebody is telling me to go and turn up, crank up the capacity engine 210% off, what really can produce, what is really driving that variation? And that led me into more on the business side versus getting deeper into the chemical engineering field itself. And that had enough mind kept on just prodding me to go and seek those answers. At some point in time, I did not know how it all worked out, I just started to go and use the data to go and get answers for myself and then when I came to U. S. in 2000 as a student, I just continued with my data curiosity and using data to go and find the answers and move into the world of consulting. And it is actually true what I'm willing to go and share. I was looking for my next project, I just finished a project in the lubricant sector, I was just waiting for what should be my next gig and the senior manager from Boston, just reaches out to me and say, " Yogesh, do you have availability to work on a very interesting project? It's in the area off pricing in retail." I said, his name was Danny Townsend. I said, Danny, I don't know retail, I don't know what it is, in India I've never seen retail in those years, there's no concept of retail, the way we talk about here. And I don't really know pricing either, but I'm interested. But what is it that you're looking in me for? Why did you reach out to me? He said, Yogesh, I'm looking for somebody who can burn the data and all I really need is great excellent access skills who can really tie it together. And that was my start off my journey. And once I entered into it, I would say it's just the passion and love for retail and data and solving for those problems. Pricing is a medium, which proves that despite being a consultant, put me into the shoes of the customer and consumer and how they really think about it. It was so exciting and I just stuck with it and I guess eventually one opportunity after the other opened up and here I am.

Ajay Gupta: So Yogesh, what's been the highlight for you in the last few years that you've been at Advance Auto Parts personally?

Yogesh Deep: You know couple of things, it's an interesting question that you asked. I think last year has been really, really, I would say difficult for everybody across the globe. I don't think there is anybody who has remained untouched by what has happened due to COVID. And the biggest highlight for me, not only in Advance Auto Parts, obviously it happened with me in the Advance Auto Parts world, but in my career and I would say the way we really came together as a team to take care of the safety of our team members in our stores and our customers is simply amazing. Under the leadership of our CEO, Tom Greco, the measures which we really put in place, the actions we really took, how we look back today, hopefully we are at the cusp of getting rid of this whole COVID thing with vaccination all around us, it cannot be more gratifying for anybody, just see what we have really done. Classic great example of putting people first, not worrying about profits and really driving the organization together towards the same motto that we need to serve our customers with care and speed and safety, we need to take care of that. Actually a highlight of my career life that in the crisis how our leadership really comes together to go and do it. Specifically within Advance Auto Parts, I would also say, this is a company which believes a tremendous lot in diversity. I am an example of that myself and the way we relay emphasis on really promoting our women leaders and giving opportunities for them, whether it is in my function, whether it is the broader function they belong to in finance or whether it is Advance Auto Parts, that's really gratifying to go and see as well. And I think that has been highlighted, I think the sheer number of opportunities that I've been able to go and exercise to go and really give support to our women leaders, to go and have them help develop and the, I would say policies we've put behind within the organization to even help them support and grow their career it's just simply amazing. Now, outside of that obviously, there are innumerable examples, I can keep on going forever from a work standpoint but I'll spare you guys all of that detail today, but those are a couple of things I'm so proud of and I think I will always be proud of my entire life.

Ajay Gupta: Yeah, it does seem like at least in Texas the pandemic is coming to an end there, I base it on the traffic I have to face every day, which was the one positive aspect of the pandemic. But how does your strategy for 2021, change and obviously it's evolving as things are improving across the country?

Yogesh Deep: Yeah. So from a strategy standpoint but obviously I think we have seen the pretty good uptake inaudible, pretty dependent in our results. COVID as it came in fact we were deemed as an essential business. We definitely provided that support and comfort to our customers that we are here if their cars brake down, think about healthcare workers, think about first responders, think about all of our police personnel, right? When they need to go and get to their jobs and if they have a problem with their car, their battery has died or they really need to change their wipers, a lighting and things of that nature, we are there, so that's more of a comfort. It definitely helped us from that standpoint, as it did multiple other businesses. I know there've been some businesses who have really faced the brunt of those, we'd be lucky to not have that. As the traffic is bouncing back and we do not see that in our trends, what we need to go and watch more internally. So, that's a good thing. Now, specific within that conduit, specifically to the question that you asked around how has our strategy evolved? I think one thing which has remained constant, is taking care of our customers inaudible, and safety. Care and speed, we do not, think about this, your car is out there for repair, an automotive shop is recreating your car and if they have to wait for two hours to go and get a part, it is going to be really painful for them because they cannot attend to any other car unless your car is fixed because it is way inaudible, on the way. So, we have further emphasize in terms of our delivery, we've invested a tremendous inaudible, invest a lot in terms of what we call this hot shot delivery, you can get your product delivered to your home, you get your product delivered to your shop within 20 minutes and we have instituted a free delivery if you would offer to go along with it. But every single payment trading you doing has this whole mantra where I call of care with speed for our customers. Specific to pricing standpoint, the way I have started to go and look for the opportunity is with the underlying framework that I call, I very fondly call as four Cs, it's obviously just the numbers four it's an alphabet C so, what does that mean? What that to me means is customers, so that's where everything starts. When we think about our growth and we think about our pricing. Channel, we have multiple different channels with which we need each of our customers, they want to interact with us in different capacities, based on what's more convenient to them. Competition, we know competition is out there and they do certain things on how the whole market is evolving and there's something good out there, which if our competition is doing or if in general retail industry is doing we want to be in sync with that as well. But we also want to lead the market with some new practices. And the last but not the least is the product or category. The fourth C where I call is category, is we want to be relevant, we want to have in the sock man, right to sock man at the right place at the right time so that customers do not have to go back disappointed. Oh, my God, I made this trip all the way to my store and I have a great relationship with the team member and the store manager we're here but I just can't find my product. It's not that it's a loss in product, it's a big disappointment for the customer and waste of their time. So, we are focusing very, very heavily on all of these four CS and I think about our growth and I think about our pricing inaudible.

Vincent Pietrafesa: And Yogesh, you mentioned earlier about you understanding data and in the beginning of this, right? That was like, yeah, Hey, if you understand that this is a great opportunity to go down this path as far as within the pricing realm. So, but how does data feature in your work and how do you use data for more intelligent pricing?

Yogesh Deep: Yeah. It's a really interesting question that you ask and this is what I would say, data is a great hope, people call it as the next oil for the world as well. But when it really comes down to application of data, the number of use cases start to blend pretty fast. That's what my experience has been. In the advertising world obviously there are a lot of companies, I don't have to really name them, but they may be flashing in your mind as they speak about it, they obviously have changed the word for good forever, right, by using data. But in the business world, if there is one function, which really tries to the power of data that I would say is pricing, and I'm not trying to be exaggerating here or I'm not biased here, I truly mean it. Right from how we start to go and make our models, which tell us what pricing it should be, so they incorporate the feedback from customers, so that's data because they are sharing their inputs and we convert that into data. What is our categories role in the eyes of the customer, how we really want to drive that role as an organization? What is our intent? What is it that we want to go and do with it? That's another data set inaudible, incorporate into our decision making process. Obviously, there's this thing called as elasticity, as pricing changes, so does the demand and what are those impacts from a transactional standpoint, that's data. We do keep a sense of the marketplace what's going on, what our competition is doing? How inflation is shaping out? What else is going on in general from a macro economic perspective? So, these are all ready data streams and we're getting that into our models. It starts itself the whole journey itself, starts with data for us, and then all along the way at the end of the day, it is about arriving to that specific price point which really reflects the value of our offer to our customers. Data plays a very, very critical role, but what is very unique about pricing is the action itself is data. We have to transmit data, think about it for millions of our skews, across thousands of our stores and even tens of thousands of our B2B customers, that data gets transmitted through a pretty intensive, I would say technology infrastructure, and we have to really go and stay on top of that. All those pipes are the conduits from a CSC customer service center or a headquarters going into our stores, where the moment of trust with our customers happen. The data flow itself also has to be really robust and well talk through flawless execution has to happen. So, I think pricing is one of those unique use cases where everything starts with data and it ends with the data. So, I think that is truly an oil for us I would say, I'm a chemical engineer, right? So, I have to use oil in my-

Vincent Pietrafesa: Used the oil, I liked it. Well, as a data company I'm like, that's pretty cool. All right. You got to send us some oil Ajay. So, Yogesh, talk to me about did you have to alter pricing during these times? And another part to that question because this other part I find fascinating, are you also responsible for saying, okay, this is when we're doing a sale on something, this is when we think a sale to discount our pricing should be now. I always find that interesting when stores do sales. So, my one question is a two- part it's have you had to alter pricing during these times, meaning 2020, and currently to fit the environment, the world as it is? And also, are you responsible for injecting sales at the right time?

Yogesh Deep: Yeah. Great question, I think that artery, what we call as artery pricing and I think that dynamic inaudible, if that's the right word about pricing about retail itself is what has really attracted me towards this sector and ones I got a sense of what it is that I've remained at it for the last more than 15 years off my career. We alter our pricing every single day, we alter pricing pretty regularly, it's such a dynamic alignment that you have to really go and take a look at it in an equally dynamic fashion. But to your specific question, did it change maybe our strategy in terms of how we alter our pricing. Now, the answer to that would be, yes, we did. We do understand as an organization that these are really challenging times and these are the times which are poorly unprecedented and I think this word has been used probably, the most used word I would say in this unfortunate pandemic we see ourselves in. So, one thing which was supreme for us before anything else was, is how we really give more value to our customers. And pricing was a component of that value delivery. Now that value can go in the form of a promotion, which is a country promotion or you can go in the form of a much more permanent change, where we have actually gone ahead and lowered our pricing threshold, we have led the market to go and make different strategies or maybe optimize our pricing so that it actually really goes and appeals to certain segments, which we really want to go and target. We've done all of that. Right? I think there's not any one single thing that you have really ignored. In terms of a specification do I interact with decision- making around how we really give out the promotion? So you know what? Those coupons would be, the answer is yes. That's what is part and parcel of our core job, my teams are dedicated to go and understand the trends and the patterns. We do not want to be second to none in terms of giving out the value to our customers and that's something which choose to do every single day. Yes.

Ajay Gupta: inaudible, part of the responsibility then also to negotiate better prices if you find yourself with too high a price on an item compared to a competitor?

Yogesh Deep: Yeah. So, we do monitor our pricing and in the marketplace and where does it really stand? And we ensure that our pricing is competitive and it actually is representative of all the value which we need delivered to our customers from a product selection standpoint. What our parts specifications are as compared to some of the specifications that our competition offers, on the service you're spending to get once they are in the store, the interaction they have in our team members. So, all of those elements do actually go into us making the right decisions from a pricing standpoint. Despite doing all of this, right? We price millions, hundreds of thousands of items for sure on every single day. There's millions of items on a longer period of time and which I said go across thousands of our stores. There would be instances where we will not get our pricing right or maybe there would be incentives where a customer who's being really loyal to us and maybe buying from us a lot and they will walk into our stores and they will find Oh, my God, my price is not necessarily the best price out there. To manage those situations, we also empower our frontline team members with a phrase called P- M- O- L price match over light. So where they have the authority in that moment of truth to go and make our customers happy by overwriting the price in the system, right? So that a customer doesn't have to walk out of our doors, disappointed that Oh, my God, somehow this pricing was not what they really saw somewhere else or they have seen in the store maybe a few days ago, and now it is different. Other unique thing about us which is not necessarily true in general for other retailers, I don't want to name specific names is, the conflict of the channel, especially between online and in store. How often have you found yourself buying a book, let us say, right? That Oh, my God, the online price is different than what I'm seeing here in the store. And by the way, a team member telling you, nope, we won't match that price, sorry, you have to buy you're in the store. We don't do that. We take utmost care to align our pricing online and in the store. It doesn't happen easily, it requires a huge amount of analysis and huge amount of flawless execution to go and happen. Simply there could be a different timing for example, from price chain standpoint thinking around, when do we really make changes to our crisis so that the customers are not exposed to them at that point in time, as the labels are getting changed or as the pricing is getting updated online, maybe it has to be at 2:00 in the morning or maybe at a point in time in the day where actually our traffic is very minimal so that we do not create a sense of confusion with our customers. So, we do take care of all of that stuff as well but at the end of the day, as I said, take care of our customers with speed, that's what really drives them, that's what really drives every single decision that we go and make.

Ajay Gupta: It's pretty fascinating Yogesh, you're the first one with pricing in your title, on our podcast. And now that you say it, I'm thinking, well, every grocery store I've ever been to, there is probably a reason why things are priced a certain way but you just don't think about it.

Yogesh Deep: Yeah, exactly. Either there is a pretty big, huge inaudible, which is simply churning out price or there is a pretty good inaudible, behind that inaudible, who has you thinking through in a really meaningful inaudible. At Advance we make sure that there are people who really are putting themselves in the shoes of our team members and our customers as they really go and deploy this huge amount of data as well as analyze it to go make those decisions. But yeah, it's a fascinating area. I love to meet a team which is world- class. So.

Ajay Gupta: And one follow up question on that. We have a lot of young students that listen to our podcast as well, so for people who are interested in a career in pricing, what is the background, obviously chemical engineering is probably not the usual typical path inaudible. So, what would you recommend they do? And also where does it fit in the org chart? Is it in their marketing? Is it under IT?

Yogesh Deep: Yeah, so it's a great question Ajay. In my carrier of 15 years, let me call a background switch, maybe pop up my mind from which people have been part of my team. Music, history, economics, engineering, I actually had a person once who was an engineer and then she left to go and pursue a medical career. She's actually a doctor nowadays. Let us see, people have been in political science space, people who have worked for actually some of the Congress men in Washington, D. C. and then eventually they changed their career trajectory over time and they be part of my team. I think more than data itself, I think that's a skill which if you have the passion and willingness, you can learn. And there's so much to it and they're in so many applications in the world of pricing and that, there's always a scope of what specific things about data you do, you know and we can use it. But the thing which is a pretty common thread across all of these is what I call a structured problem solving skills. Can you take a situation, break it down into its logical components and try to go and solve further. People who are successful in the pricing area has the skill come to them pretty naturally or maybe they have developed it to their college education or training on that side. And I think that is something that goes a long way. And then interacting with our different functions within the organization, especially in a retail organization. Now, to your question around where does pricing belong within a company like Advance or in general within retail? Well I have in my career reported into the chief merchandising officer, I have reported into chief marketing officer, I reported into chief finance officer, I think the only person I have not reported into is the chief procurement officer, if you would, right? So, it's one of those areas which actually touches everything. The most important thing first rather than where does it actually reports, the most important thing is, where can you be more objective? So, if you think about any organization marketing, right? They have a vision, they have agenda they really need to go and drive to go and deliver to the metrics within the year, right? And same goes with finance and same goes with merchandising. But when you think of our pricing, it impacts everything. From a finance standpoint obviously, what your revenue growth is and what your margin dollars impact are and where does your margin grade impact is, that's where it comes from a finance standpoint. From a merchandising standpoint, it is the core of merchandising. It's the product, it's the price, it's the place, how you really reach out to customers and what interaction the customers have from a role off that product or that category perspective. It is inhered in there so it touches merchandising every single day. And then from a marketing standpoint, think about promotion, Vincent you asked that question earlier on. Whether it's a promotion, which is a temporary price reduction, whether it is a bundled promotion, am I advertising it in my customer buyer guide? Or is it going online with my affiliates or with some of the internet channels, which we really have to go to reach out to my consumers web? All of that, it touches marketing as well. So it's a pretty unique function. Where it thrives the most is where you can have that independence, right? So there's an objective view. Merchandising may have their objectives and marketing may have their own objectives, they may not be necessarily 100% in sync at a tactical level on a day- to- day basis and that's where pricing comes into go and strike that balance. Similarly, across the channels too there's always a channel conflict, should I buy the product online or in store or maybe should I go to a automotive part repair shop where I get my car fixed, right? And why do I have to pay for the product there? Customer is going and making those decisions which translate into people who own those channels making their decisions. So, pricing can play a very good role in terms of bringing those teams together to make a decision which is good for our customers and good for our company and most importantly, it doesn't create confusion in our customer's minds, it conveys that value proposition that we really have. So, as long as you follow these principles, it can be part of any of these and as I said, that'd be part of all of these different functions in my career, within Advance Auto Parts though, I enrolled into our chief finance officer, so the CFO. So, you are part of the finance organization here.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yogesh, before we get into some of our infamous questions that we have, that we ask all of our guests as far as LinkedIn and our pet peeves, we'll get to that in a moment, but I want to ask the B2B aspect of Advance Auto Parts, talk to me about that. Is that people know the stores that you can go into retail repairs, you could also go into the obviously to the website, what's the B2B aspect?

Yogesh Deep: Yeah. So, think of yourself as a customer for a second and you own a car, right? There are some customers we call enthusiasts, right? Earlier on in our chat, right? You said, when you had a car, you would go to the Advance Auto Parts all the time. They like to go and work on your car themselves, they're emotionally more attached to it, it's a weakness, they really want to go on attempt and as you are trying to go and do things whether it is a polish or whether it is changing a inaudible, or changing wipers or a light bulb or a battery, right? They want to do it themselves. That's where they really go and to a store of ours and go and buy that product and then they just want to go and do the job. There are some people who want to learn about it. So they go and look for videos on our website and say, okay, this is how I can go and make the change happen. But then they are a large population of customers who either do not have time or the motivation or the ability to go and really work on the car themselves. It's too complex for them. In which case, they go to an automotive shop either a major national chain or a small local shop if you would, and they get their car fixed or improved upon or whatever the need is that gets taken care off there. And those people inaudible, a chain customers or a local automotive shop, are our customers in return. So, when a customer comes again, I want to get a part change, that card is something that you supply to that specific business, who in turn the news inaudible, their cars. So, that's essentially the B2B business, which is pretty, pretty important for us.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, definitely. That's a, yeah. Something that I didn't even think about. So yeah, thanks for clarifying. And let's get into some of the personal side with just a few minutes left but also, so one of our staple questions, Yogesh, LinkedIn, right? There's a lot of marketers out there who listen to this podcast maybe they use LinkedIn. Now, I don't think you're going to have many pet peeves because you are such a nice guy but who knows, it's okay if you do. But your title with a company like Advance Auto Parts, I'd imagine a lot of people are reaching out to you to get your attention. What's a message on LinkedIn that gets your attention that says, you know what, I'll connect with this person, this company and what is a pet peeve that you just don't like when people reach out on LinkedIn?

Yogesh Deep: Yeah. It's an interesting question you ask, I'm thinking on the fly here. I think the message that gets my attention is something which is more personalized, right? When somebody is reaching out to you and they make it clear that they really care about you. And they just really genuinely want to connect with you. The things which I do not like so much is when you can really clearly make out that people are reaching out to you for your title. Just because you've happened to have a title flashing on your LinkedIn profile so let me just go and connect with that person or I think it has to become of late a little bit more prevalent than what it used to be when just a few years ago is a lot of people reach out representing companies but they come across as, if I dare use the word, arrogant. We know what your problems are because we help others in your industry and we have the best thing in town without even fully understanding the context. And the thing which has always irritated me the most is that somebody reaches out to you with a note. I am so- and- so, I would love to understand what are your objectives and key initiatives for the next year, so that I can help you. I don't even know you-

Vincent Pietrafesa: crosstalk. Give you my secrets? Yeah.

Yogesh Deep: I'm on the work which I know is super confidential, how do you expect to reach out to someone and straight away ask for, just share your objectives and activities and initiatives with me and I know I can help you? I think LinkedIn is a platform to go and build relationships, professional relationships and there are some people, I would say there are most of the people who know what it is for and they use it appropriately and they reach out and I love to connect with people but they're always certain things which irritate you sometimes.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I like that with the secrets. Give me all your initiatives and then yeah. When people say that to me and they get my name wrong. It's like Victor, I'd love to hear all your deepest, darkest secrets and then I could come up with a plan to help you. All right, buddy. How about you get my name right? First of all, and then I'm not giving you anything.

Yogesh Deep: That's actually a great point. A lot of time people use my last name as my first name. Hi, Deep. My name is Yogesh, right?

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah-

Yogesh Deep: There are some people who have a very formal way, Mr. so- and-so, I get it right? But people, sometimes they get the spellings wrong, inaudible.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, now, I get it. Look, when you have a last name, like Pietrafesa it happens all the time, like me. So I get it there. Well, yeah. Thanks for sharing that. That's one of our staple questions.

Ajay Gupta: Yeah. We try not to spell Vincent's name because we know we'll get it wrong. So we-

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah, I think I have the only email or it's like vincent @ stirista.

Ajay Gupta: That's true.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. It's like, don't even bother it. That means there will be error and people can't reach me and I need my partners and clients to reach me. Go on Ajay.

Yogesh Deep: That's funny.

Ajay Gupta: Yogesh, sure. Tell us a little bit about yourself, what hobbies you have and we were talking about cricket earlier, I think I heard you were a cricket player yourself. So, what position do you play?

Yogesh Deep: Well, I wouldn't characterize myself as a cricket player but I am a cricket enthusiasts is what I would say. The thing which now at the stage of my life where I am, the thing which I love the most about cricket is it gives me the opportunity to be with my friends. As the weather is opening up, we'll go and huddle together at 6: 30 in the morning, we'll grab a cup of tea or coffee and we'll chit chat and we'll go and play 14 overs, 15 overs, 16 overs, depending on the day and just have some fun together. I think it's a great mechanism to unwind more so than play, I also watch cricket. I did not miss out on any game that India is playing, whether it is a test match, there's a recent series, which they just wrapped up with England and then before that with Australia or a P20 or things like that. One thing which I have not kept faces with is IPL, I think that's too intensive it becomes and there's not enough time no matter hours in the day. But in terms of what position do I play? I don't know, I think I can bat okay, and people tell I ball okay as well. My balls are pretty deceiving to them so, that's good to know. Sometimes I can trouble people, so that's more than enough for me. But at the end of the day, I don't play competitive cricket its just more for fun. So that's what I do quite often, especially when it is not Winter and it's not snowing. than that, I'm a chess player, I used to play a lot of chess, I used to play it for Monjee University, I used to be a champion and during my college years as well. So, I like to go and play it every once in a while with my son. But most importantly, I love to spend as much time with my family, whether it is if they tell me, let's go shopping, I go shopping, but I'll try to go and find out an ice cream shop and let's go and inaudible, a little scoop here or just go and walk on the streets of Princeton. I love the area where I live and it's just so relaxing to go and just watch people mingling around and going about their daily lives and students rushing from one point to the other point, maybe they're trying to go and attend a class in a rush. So, that itself is fun. So nothing in specific but I just strive to go and take life easy and enjoy it to the fullest.

Vincent Pietrafesa: And speaking of college, aren't your one, I don't know if it's your son or your daughter is on the search for a college, right?

Yogesh Deep: Oh, yeah. So I've got two kids, both high schoolers now, my daughter, this is the time when the college admission letters are coming in, she got two three colleges under her belt already and she may be waiting for a couple more, one of those is her dream college so we'll see where she eventually ends up. And it's an exciting time, but for me, I think it's a little bit emotional time too Oh, my God. I don't know if my son would hear it and then how he would believed but my God, like my daughter, I'm so close to her, not that I'm not close to my son. She'll be leaving home in a few months time, but I'm excited for her to go and fly and find her own destiny.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Are all the schools a little further than you want, away?

Yogesh Deep: Well, you know the kids nowadays, right? So they don't want to be too close to parents.

Vincent Pietrafesa: I couldn't wait to get away. I was like wait, this is four and a half hours away. I'm out. See you later mom like.

Yogesh Deep: I guess the same amount of emotion doesn't go to the teenagers. Right? They want to go Oh, my God I don't want mom or dad to show up on my campus unannounced.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Well, yeah. Oh, that's awesome.

Ajay Gupta: It is now my seven year old plans to live with us forever. So, we'll see how long that lasts.

Vincent Pietrafesa: Yeah. Then she's 17 and she's like, dad, you're embarrassing me and I don't want you around what dance move was that like? Yeah. By the way, Ajay and I we both have small children, so I have a years of embarrassing them ahead. But Yogesh, this has been awesome. We really appreciate it. Thank you for taking out the time to spend with us on The Marketing Stir. Once again, that is Yogesh Deep, senior vice president, growth and strategic pricing, Advance Auto Parts. I'm Vincent that's Ajay, this has been another episode of The Marketing Stir. Thanks. And we'll see you soon. Thanks Yogesh.

Yogesh Deep: Thank you guys. It's been a pleasure.

Jared Walls: Thanks for listening to The Marketing Stir podcast by Starista, please like rate and subscribe. If you're interested in being a guest on the podcast, email us @ themarketingstir @ stirista. com. And thanks for listening.


Yogesh Deep, Senior Vice President of Growth and Strategic Pricing at Advance Auto Parts, shares his journey of how he started out as a chemical engineer to his current role with the company. Along with Advance’s B2B operations, he also discusses the success of giving frontline team members authority to override their pricing system in-store. Ajay is glad to not be on a billboard, and Vincent wishes he owned a car.

Today's Host

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Vincent Pietrafesa

|Vice President, B2B Products, Stirista
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Ajay Gupta

|Founder & CEO, Stirista

Today's Guests

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Yogesh Deep

|Senior Vice President - Growth and Strategic Pricing at Advance Auto Parts
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