Pricing is one of those concepts, that whenever a sales guy will lose a deal, they will blame it on price – our price was too high. For customers, the easiest way to push you away, is to say that your price is too high. In both the situations, the easiest people to blame is the product/marketing folks – “they don’t understand the reality of the market place, they just sit in the office and tell us what to do without understanding what the customer wants”. Pricing is one of the key reasons – marketing and sales don’t see eye to eye.
Just to clarify – its not that I don’t lose cases on price.
My agenda from this post is to help you not waste time with a customer who does not have the ability to value what you offer in return for the price that you charge. Its both marketing and sales’ responsibility to showcase the value to the customer.
That was a loaded statement – so let me break it down – what is the customer’s perception of what you provide and what she should pay for it. The other is, how do you do your pricing.
As a product manager or marketing manager, when you build a pricing for something, you generally take into account the costs involved at your end. Then you add a margin and give that as the price to be charged. This is the easiest way – Cost+Markup
On the other hand, if you were to look at the value / result / outcome, that the customer will get , by using your product or service and then work backwards, you will be able to come to a better argument. If you don’t know the result that you can get for your customer and there are others who can provide almost similar value at a lower price, then the customer will go with your competition.
I have lost a lot of deals where initially the customer didn’t appreciate the value of the kind of trainings we give our people and how they impact the execution of the project and the reason for us being almost double of someone else. But then we had them come back to us, at a much bigger value when they failed to get the project executed and the cost of penalties and reputation, was even bigger for them. Obviously there were also a lot of them where they got the project executed with someone else at a lower price.
The agenda for showing value has to be ours – not the customer’s. You can verify with the customer, during your meetings, if they value what you sell. Don’t ask this question to operational people. I have made that mistake many times. They have no view of what is going on in the mind of the leadership team. Ask it to people in finance or leadership. Those people look at it from the return of investment perspective. If what they value is what you give, then you have an easy task.
On the other hand, if what you have can enhance the value of what they think, they want, then you have to show them, what else is possible and they agree then you can move forward. Generally if you have chosen your Single Target Market well, then this task becomes comparatively easy because most people in that niche will value similar things.
If what you are selling can get them 10 times of the price you are charging, then you have an argument. If you are charging a price of $1500/- and you can show them how the value (reduction in cost or increase in revenue) will be 10 time or worth $15000/- then you can have a good discussion. But if the return on the investment Is only equal or couple of times more than the investment, it is not worth.
Remember the inertia is so high in B2B setups, that they don’t want to go through the whole process of identifying something where the return is minimal.
But you can use this same inertia to your advantage. If the customer has experienced you before and you have delivered on your promise or commitments, then if you are slightly more expensive then the competitors, they will prefer to deal with you because they know you can deliver.
So coming back to the main topic – how can you then do pricing. You can do it better when your argument of value is clearly identified – whether with your case studies or testimonials etc., in case they have not worked with you before. When the customer knows that you CAN deliver , what you promise and she Values what you deliver, then the pricing argument reduces. Doing pricing on a cost plus basis is generally a losing proposition in a highly competitive environment.
Till next time then.