Monthly Archives: December 2012

Ralphie breaks into Richie’s office and learns 4 Pricing Secrets

One Christmas season, twin brothers Richie and Ralph each opened competing businesses selling (physically) exactly the same products and services.   Each of them spent the same money on advertising, attended the same networking events, and advertised in the same places.

But, in their first year in business, Richie made money while Ralph had growing cash flow issues.   So, over the following Christmas holiday, while Richie was with his family on a Disney Cruise; Ralph snuck into Richie’s store one night to see why this was the case.    Ralph shuffled through a lot of papers until he came upon a fairly thick binder called “Pricing Secrets to make more money than your twin brother in business.”  Besides being very perturbed, Ralph was curious and opened the book.  This is what he saw:

Secret #1: Never set prices purely based on costs

The customer does not really care what the costs of running my business are.  What my customer cares about is the VALUE that we provide to their lives.    If it costs $10, but our customer thinks the value is $1,000; then we will sell it for $900 and look like a hero.

That said, Secret 1a is that we must always understand our margins, gross and net:  where they are now, where they have been, and where they are going.  If we do not like dealing with “the numbers,” pay someone to do this for us.  Understanding our books can make the difference between THINKING we are making money; to KNOWING it.

Secret #2:  Since we CHOOSE what we sell, decide to sell only what improves the lifestyle of the customer enough for them to pay us a premium price

The companies that are able to command the highest margins understand not just the utility of their products; but also how their products improve the lives of their customers.     As a smart company, we realize that what we sell is OUR choice.    Everyone says you must “sell the sizzle, not the steak”; but this advice is useless if our product has no sizzle.

If our product IS seen as a commodity, and we find that we cannot make enough money in the business to sustain/improve our lifestyle,  we will sell something else.  If the new product costs more than our current customer can pay; then we will find new customers.  After all, we are not helping anyone if we go out of business because we sold low-priced products to poor-paying customers.

Secret #3:  The easiest way to improve the margin on our products is to increase the price above the “commodity-level” offered by our competitors,  add an additional value, AND also offer at least 2 premium options well above the price of our primary offering.

These MUST be done together.  If we just try to increase the price and add onto what we offer; the customer will see this as a tactic and buy a lower value product from Ralph.  But, by offering the two premium offerings; prospects will view us as a premium provider.  And, when they compare the revised offering to the higher level offering, two very good things can happen:

– They buy the premium offerings, and are glad that we offered this option;

– They buy the lower priced offering from us, getting more value for themselves while we get more margins and cash flow.

Secret #4:  Have a Documented Marketing and Sales Process to take prospects from never having heard of us to the purchase – and Execute it every day.

The reason we can price ourselves above Ralph’s shop across the street is because when customers walk into his shop, their salespeople say “Can I help you”; and people are always “just looking.”  When they come into my shop, I have a process to get the customer to discover what they want, why they want it, and then qualify themselves as a serious buyer.    Our process does not allow people to “browse”; it asks them to decide whether or not they want a purchase.  And, because we let them know that we are OK with “No,” they say “Yes” a lot more.

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There were several more Secrets, and Ralph decided that he might need to come back in a few days to read the rest of it.    But, for now, he knew what his next steps were; because he could no longer continue to keep funding his business while his brother Richie made big profits.

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Why Pilot Pete and Entrepreneur Ed Don’t Make Enough Money

Pete had been an airline pilot for 20 years.

One day Pete was talking to his friend, Ed the Entrepreneur, and noticed that Ed’s business was doing pretty well.   Apparently, Ed had all of the things necessary to “hit it big”:

– A product customers loved, with great “word of mouth” advertising;

– Years of experience “in the industry”;

– An incredible work ethic;

– and a lot of people who really “liked” him.

In fact, Ed was SO busy working in and growing his business; that he never sat down and wrote a “Business Plan” or a developed “Strategy.”  As long as he kept working persistently, Ed told Pete, one day he would achieve everything he dreamed about.

Pete felt this made perfect sense.  After all, when you know what you are doing technically, and people are coming “on board”; if you stop and take the time to Plan, it will just slow down your momentum and cut down on the “freedom” that comes from being your own boss.

So, the day before Thanksgiving a couple of years ago, Pete and several of his pilot friends talked about this and decided that since they knew how to fly, their planes were full of fuel, and people were getting on board the airplanes; it would be a waste of time to file flight plans or listen to the Air Traffic Controllers.    After all, most had been flying for a LONG time; so their Plans were “in their heads.”  What could go wrong?

So they took off together…….

– 2 ran into each other before they left the runway – because they were going so fast that, by the time they saw each other, it was too late;

– 5 got lost and crashed into mountains that were higher than the clouds below the flight path of the planes;

– 7 had to make so many “course corrections” that the fuel they started with was not enough and they ended up crashing;

– 4 had mid-air collisions with other planes that seemed to “come out of nowhere”;

– 5 landed at the wrong airports;

– 2 DID make it to their correct destinations, but it took them twice as long as expected.

Pete was one that made it to the right airport, several hours late; and he was fired.  AND he lost his Pilot’s license; so now he’s a cashier at McDonald’s (pays less than a job as a commercial airline pilot).

What about you?  Are you so convinced in your own abilities, your “experience,” and current “busy-ness” that you don’t think that you need a Plan (or maybe you will get one when things “slow down”)? 

Just because you are moving fast, does not mean that you are going to be successful in the long run:

– The Planes that run into each other on the runway are those businesses that do not do their market research, and run into a competitor to their “unique” offering that they never knew existed;

– The Planes that hit the mountains are those businesses that believe that they have “made it,” but never plan far enough ahead to anticipate surprise obstacles like shifting markets, loss of a big customer, or changing customer requirements;

– The Planes that run out of fuel are the businesses who, because they lack a clear plan, run out of cash before they hit their “tipping point” (happens a LOT);

– The Planes that have mid-air collisions are the businesses who do not plan and forecast continuously and so never see new competitors until it is too late;

– The Planes that land at the wrong airports are those businesses who, while they eventually get “somewhere,” do not achieve what they had hoped for;

– The Planes that DO make it to the right airport are those businesses who eventually succeed, but after a LOT more pain, stress, and time than they should have needed.

Ignore Pete.  This is your ideal time RIGHT NOW to sit down and create a comprehensive plan, WITH accountability; so that your business will take off quickly,  fly with less stress, and land at your goals in the time frame that YOU want.

By the way, Ed’s not doing so well in his business because his “word of mouth” customers do not come frequently enough to support Ed and his family.

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– Roger Boneno, Roger@CoachRogerBoneno.com