Ep 15: Mark Boundy – Value Selling: How to Sell Value Rather than Price
Mark Boundy is a business builder, sales leader, author, coach, and consultant. He has grown businesses in a variety of industries by virtue of his relentless focus on uncovering customer value and delivering high-value results.
Currently, he works as the Advisor to CXOs at the C-Suite Network since 2017 and for eight years now, he is the Sales Performance Consultant of a sales and service performance company called Miller Heiman Group, combining the world’s most successful sales methodologies with his value discipline for his clients. He’s currently writing his book, The Value Multiplier, which will be available soon.
In this episode, Mark narrates his journey in pricing, how all the learnings he got inspired him to write his book and how he developed the business acumen mindset. He’ll also share his expertise on value-focused insights and explains how value significantly impacts sales success. Learn those two questions to raise to understand where the value comes from in pricing.
Why you have to check out today’s podcast:
- Find out how pricing affects sales
- Discover how much customers are willing to pay and where the value comes from
- Learn how to develop strong business acumen skills
“If you deliver customer value and you know how to price it, everything else will take care of itself.”
– Mark Boundy
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01:31 – Mark Boundy shares his pricing journey, how he started in pricing
05:31 – Overview of his upcoming book “The Value Multiplier: How Adding Value to Your Customers Multiplies Value Back to Yourself”
06:37 – Mark’s insights about CSO Sales Research
09:50 – Mark Stiving narrates why he thinks salespeople don’t sell value
13:15 – Figuring out what are customers willing to pay and where the value comes from
17:39 – How to make sales training actually stick, why sales trainers don’t train about the value or if they do, why everybody ignores it
21:55 – Mark Boundy tells his work experience with GE and how he developed the business acumen mindset
23:31 – An impactful pricing advice from Mark Boundy – “Ask the magic questions: What does this mean to you and how much is this costing you every year? Or what financial difference could this make to you if you were to solve this problem? Then, shut up and listen which will tell you where the value comes from.”
24:41 – Parting words from Mark Boundy – “You can cut your way to survival. You can cut your way to profitability, but you can’t shrink your way to growth.”
“The pricing is about not only capturing value but communicating value and creating value.”– Mark Stiving
“Value only exists in the customer’s mind. And if you are messaging value or proposing value in your value proposition, you don’t know if it landed and turned into a value between the customer’s ears. You can’t do either of those two things without two-way communication” – Mark Boundy
“All value is perceived value; otherwise it doesn’t exist.” – Mark Stiving
“Value is the desirability of the outcomes that a customer will get from implementing, buying, installing our product or service. It is the monetarily measurable, usual desirability of the outcome.” – Mark Boundy
“A really simple definition of value is what your buyer is willing to pay.” – Mark Stiving
Connect with Mark Boundy:
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Read his blog: boundyconsulting.com/blog
Connect with Mark Stiving
Full Interview Transcript
Mark Boundy: If you deliver customer value and you know how to price it, everything else will take care of itself.
Mark Stiving: Welcome to Impact Pricing, the podcast where we discuss pricing value and the undeniable relationship between them. I’m Mark Stiving and today our guest is Mark Boundy. Here are three things you absolutely want to know about Mark before we start. He is part of the C- Suite network where he advises CXOS about business. Can’t wait to hear what that really means. Ah, he’s been a consultant for Miller Heiman sales performance company for eight years. I took Miller Heiman training 30 years ago. I don’t remember any of it, so maybe he will teach us something. And third, he went to u of Michigan. So I’ll speak slowly and hopefully, he’ll understand me the entire time. Actually, to be fair, mark, he’s also writing a book called the value multiplier, which should be out soon and I cannot wait to hear about it. Welcome, Mark.
Mark Boundy: Thank you so much for having me, Mark. I’m really excited to be here.
Mark Stiving: My apologies for the Michigan joke. I just can’t help myself.
Mark Boundy: Michigan, Ohio state thing. It’s to be expected.
Mark Stiving: It is. It is. So how did you get into pricing?
Mark Boundy: I have a deep history of being in product management, product marketing and then sales. So having managed a p and l statement at a company that was maniacal about customer perceived value and having, as I said, as having p&l responsibility, you suddenly develop a lot more sensitivity towards price and profitable pricing. Unfortunately, then many sales organizations today have.
Mark Stiving: Quick comment. I teach people all the time that pricing is about not only capturing value but communicating value and creating value. That sounds to me like product management, product marketing, and sales. Yeah. You grew up in the right space.
Mark Boundy: Yeah, exactly. And communicating value is something that I can get kind of wound up on. Value only exists in the customer’s mind. And if you are messaging value or proposing value in your value proposition, you don’t know if it landed and turned into value between the customer’s ears. So I really want to make sure that we’re using precision. I don’t like unit directional words like messaging. If we’re talking about communication, that’s gotta be by directional where you say something that might have resulted in value, but you’ve got to confirm whether value happened in the customer’s brain, and if so, how much value happened in the customer’s brain. And you can’t do either of those two things without two-way communication.
Mark Stiving: I couldn’t agree more. All value is perceived value, otherwise, it doesn’t exist.
Mark Boundy: Exactly. I tell people that when I use the term customer perceived value, I’m being purposefully redundant because there is no other kind of value.
Mark Stiving: Yes. And that’s actually true. Absolutely true. The other one, the other question that came to mind really quickly is I’ve never heard of a company that is maniacal about perceived value. What company was that? Give us some more detail, please.
Mark Boundy: This company was named WL Gore and associates. If anybody has ever worn a Gore-Tex garment. Yup, you are familiar with Gore’s products, but it was started as an industrial company that made wire and cable that the same Gortex makes some of the world’s best cable installation. Gore makes artificial arteries and veins and implantable medical devices because that same Gortex is chemically inert and doesn’t interact with the body with the immune system. And also there’s industrial filtration and other kinds of products that are used. So it’s a big company that does a lot of business to business. And in every one of those businesses, when I was there, you could not go a day without hearing somebody ask the question, what’s the value? And that was shorthand in that culture for what is the customer, what will the customer do if they don’t buy from us? What do they like better about us? What are the financial impacts of what they liked better about us and what kind of price premium over the second best option can we command and still make the customer thrilled that they did business with us?
Mark Stiving: Oh my God, you just grew up in the right space to really get pricing nice.
Mark Boundy: It was a huge gift. And having gone from there to other cultures and seeing how rare and special that culture was, I had the chance to preach value to other folks or just lead my little segment of the customer without the company, without necessarily teaching those around me. But now I’ve got a backup and say, you know, I’ve been there, I’ve done that, I’ve created value for customers and now it’s time for me to share what I’ve learned. And so I’m writing the book, as you said in your intro, The Value Multiplier, how adding value to your customers multiplies value back to yourself. And it takes the position that everything a company does should be about value. And in fact, the purpose of a company is to generate more value for our customers, then it costs to deliver. In corporate America, we get ourselves twisted around the axle trying to look for other substitutes for that core truth of business. And we look at shareholder value and customer satisfaction scores and being customer-centric when really at the core of all of those if you deliver customer value and you know how to price it, everything else will take care of itself.
Mark Stiving: And Mark, I gotta tell you I’m a little bit frustrated here because normally by now with my guests I found something to disagree with and so far you have just been spot on. This is just incredible. I love the message that you deliver in the sales world.
Mark Boundy: We have, we’ve noticed something, a CSO insight, which is the big research house. It’s kind of like the Gartner research of sales research. For the last several years, they’ve said that the number of buyers, people involved in a buying process, has grown steadily over the last decade. Once Four to six, now at six to eight up to 11 or 12 in many cases they’ve counted that trend, but they haven’t said why. And I personally, I think it’s because companies are getting more and more siloed and specialized where it used to be HR, now its HR is divided into talent and recruiting and benefits and certain kinds of benefits and absence management and performance management. And so if your solution used to be sold to one or two of those people, now it’s three or four of those people. And so we really struggle with selling, with having a customer understand the value, especially if only one of those people has the budget to buy what you have. We tend to talk narrowly to the kind of value that that person is interested in rather than the whole value that our offer might have. So customers are really siloed and splintered and it’s really hard for them to get a fair view of the broad value of what we sell in my business to the business world, And conversely, the customer interface has also been splintered. We’ve gone from sales to sales, outside sales, hunters, farmers, technical sales support, demo specialists, proposal specialists, implementation specialist delivery, customer satisfaction, technical support. And every single one of those roles has a view, has a unique vantage point into the customer that the person with the title of salesperson will never have relationships that they can never hope to replicate.
Mark Boundy: And failing to get everybody who is in customer contact, the ability to have, not just deliver a great customer experience, but to ask questions about what is customer value. When somebody in tech support says, I see that’s a problem. How often do you have that problem? How widely does it spread? How many dollars a year is that problem costing you? And then taking that little insight back to the hive so that marketers can start marketing it. Product developers can start developing product innovation and solutions around that problem. The fact that we’ve splintered the outgoing customer interface has limited our ability at, as companies, from getting a full value picture. So customers are splintered and it keeps them from buying more broadly and insightfully. Sellers are splintered and it keeps us from selling and gathering all the information. And so my book is about stopping the madness.
Mark Stiving: I think those are two really big points, Mark. I agree with you. But I think even if we simplified the world, let’s say that there was one seller and one buyer, I still see that salespeople don’t sell value. We’re out pitching products and talking about features and doing demos and we’re not focused on value. Am I wrong about that?
Mark Boundy: You are not wrong at all. I’m engaging with several clients as we speak on taking their world-class sales and helping them understand the value. And the temptation is, and it’s not because sellers are lazy, it’s because sellers are human beings and human beings find the simplest way to get on with the whatever it is you’re doing. And if you sell until the customer says, yes, you’ve done your job, but selling value means that you’ve had a little bit more conversation about value along the way so that when it’s time for the customer to buy, they have a much better reason and you’ve got a much better reason to sell and teaching the sales force all of your sellers, the difference between selling that didn’t make a sale and selling to make a sale at the right price takes half a dozen or a dozen little tweaks through the entire sales process that don’t really take all that onto more time or effort. There’s a change in behavior, but you’re absolutely right.
Mark Boundy:Yeah, it seems to me that it’s actually easier to sell value. That’s not true. It’s easier to memorize a script and spew it out, but if it’s, if we’re trying to actually make the sale, it’s easier and more effective to sell value.
Mark Boundy: Absolutely. I am highly trained in how to get sales managers to the coach sales process. I can help a salesperson if they’ll use the sales process we’ve designed. I’m really good at diagnosing what’s going wrong with the sale and why it’s stuck and what we should do about it. But if you are able, as a sales coach, to simply ask, what is it the customers value, what does the customer see as value? And if that salesperson can answer that question, I know I don’t need to coach anything. They did the whole thing, right? I don’t have to find what they’ve done wrong and if they don’t know, they could probably figure out what they need to do to go out and get that information.
Mark Boundy: Yeah. Let me ask a tricky question. What is value when you define it? What do you mean when you say the word value?
Mark Boundy: I’ll give you the definition after I wander a little bit.
Mark Stiving: Okay.
Mark Boundy: Customers don’t buy our products or services. They buy outcomes. What they will pay for those outcomes depends on the desirability of those outcomes. So value is the desirability of the outcomes that a customer will get from implementing, buying, installing our product or service. It is the monetarily measurable, usual desirability of the outcome.
Mark Stiving: By the way, I don’t disagree with that. Let me give you my definition of value and let’s chat about it. See what makes sense.
Mark Boundy: Yeah.
Mark Stiving: I think value, first of my really simple definition of value, Value is what your buyer is willing to pay, period. Now the next question becomes how do you figure out what they’re willing to pay and where does that value come from? and I find those fascinating conversation.
Mark Boundy: Yes.
Mark Stiving: But, but what do you think about that? Oh, and by the way, the one more thing, and as soon as you say to me, we’re in a B to B world, I will tell you value has a dollar on it every time.
Mark Boundy: Yeah. Almost all. Yes, it should have. There are some parts of value that are very difficult to dollarize, but you could force a prospect to dollarize some of them.
Mark Stiving: That’s my, the way that I love B2B.
Mark Boundy: Yeah.
Mark Stiving: I have a really had a hard time pricing a pizza. I love pizza. Right. I’d probably pay a 100 bucks for a pizza, but uh,
Mark Boundy: yeah, the right place at the right time. Sure.
Mark Stiving: Right. But I just, it’s hard for me to say, yeah, this is how many dollars that makes me.
Mark Boundy: Yeah. And when people, uh, ask, you know, say I don’t buy some of the stuff you say, well I just walked, I just drove past the two gas stations across the street from each other and the price of unleaded regular gasoline across the street was 40 cents a gallon different. Tell me why one of them gets any business at all.
Mark Stiving: Yeah.
Mark Boundy: The other thing is if the price were the only thing that mattered, only one seller would have all the business.
Mark Stiving: Yeah. These are actually true statements. Absolutely true.
Mark Boundy: I like that value is what a customer is willing to pay. I think that is correct. From a functional standpoint. I want to help people understand what makes them willing to pay. So in my B to B world, it’s telling me about the outcome,s your solution delivers and what those are worth to you. And you can slowly, and you can even do that in a consumer side, right? Because those two gas stations, one of them has a better convenience store inside and has cleaner bathrooms. One of them is a left-hand turn while you’re driving home from work and the other one is right-hand turn.
Mark Stiving: Yup.
Mark Boundy: I’m always too late to buy gas on the way to work. I only have enough time to buy gas on the way home, so I’m going to choose the one that’s the right turn, not the left turn.
Mark Stiving: All of those things might go into a consumer price difference. Well, absolutely. Now we’re talking about differentiation and the value of the differentiation between our offering and the closest competitors offer.
Mark Boundy: I completely agree. I spent time at Michigan at that school up north.
Mark Stiving: Really?
Mark Boundy: Yes. I was the research assistant for one of a really prominent researcher in the area of consumer choice and consumer behavior. So I spent quite a bit of time looking at deep nerdy articles on how people make decisions. And the reality is people, if they’re faced with a lot of choices, they quickly narrow it down to two using some really dumb ways of just knocking things out until they get to the final two then they seriously considered the final two. And we decide based on differences when with its two cars, we don’t say both of them have four tires. Both of them have two bumpers. Both of them have a steering wheel. We will say I like the aluminum wheels better than the on this one. Better than that one. I like the leather upholstery on this one better than the other one. I like the location of the Cup holders on this one better than the other one. We don’t spend time comparing all the same.
Mark Stiving: Yup.
Mark Boundy: So we look at the differences and then we just decide if we like those differences and what outcomes those deliver differences will get for us. And sometimes we do that by some sort of a fuzzy gut feel, but we make our decisions based on the differences between the two options.
Mark Stiving: Yeah, I agree completely. And as soon as we go to the B to B world, I would expect as a company, as a sales organization, we should be able to put a dollar value on that difference.
Mark Boundy: Should be. And uh, this is one of those awful areas where the difference between should and does hits us far too often.
Mark Stiving: Well, let me ask you a question. You get in the sales train, I’m assuming that you’re at least familiar with Miller Heiman sales training and you’ve been in the sales training space. Yup. Why don’t sales trainers train about the value or do they and everybody ignore it?
Mark Boundy: They train about value but they trained to 94% of the price of, of what would be what I consider pricing value. We talk about differences, we talk about what people like about differences. We talk about outcomes, the different outcomes of those differences. And then we stopped. We don’t talk about the dollar value of those outcomes, the differences. And since we both go to football schools, imagine, imagine you’re a defender, you have gotten up underneath the street, you put your shoulder blade underneath the sternum of the guy with the ball carrier and you’ve wrapped around and you have lifted up and their feet are off the ground and you are in that millisecond of deciding, do I finish this tackle or do I just wait for the ref to blow the whistle and telling somebody, getting somebody to the point where they’re going to make a buying decision. Ref is going to blow the whistle and then down stopped or you can finish the tackle. You can put some grass stains on the numbers on the back of the guy’s Jersey and make him grunt with pain and that’s selling to value and that’s understanding how much they will pay. Right.
Mark Stiving: We have to put, we have to put a positive spin on this for just a second one.
Mark Boundy: Maybe we’ll go a different way, but it’s a matter of… Let’s start again.
Mark Stiving: No, no, no. You’re beautiful. I love the, we’re not, we’re not cutting that. That was amazing. But when I think of often is, let’s say I have a product and let’s say my sales person actually knows the product exceptionally well. They know what it does and they’ve got experience with other customers using it. They’re really knowledgeable about that product. Then we have a buyer. That buyer is not like any customer we’ve ever had before. That buyer doesn’t understand our product, as well as our salesperson, understands our product, but the salesperson doesn’t understand the buyer’s situation as well as the buyer understands the buyer situation and if the two of them were willing to have a conversation, sometimes this is called a value conversation together they could figure out, well, how much is this thing actually worth? The buyer should love this because now the salesperson is helping them understand, is this a good decision? Is it not a good decision? How are we going to justify it to your management? This is just us exploring value together.
Mark Boundy: Absolutely. Couldn’t agree more. Mark, think of a Venn diagram with two circles that are partially overlapping and on one side it’s the customer’s desired outcomes. All the things and their aspirations, things they want to accomplish in their business and personal life. And on the right-hand circle is the selling company’s differentiated capabilities. All the things that I can do, and it’s the seller’s job to find out what all of those capabilities are and it’s the seller’s job. And the customer should be very willing to do that because it’s also the seller’s job to figure out how many of those customer problems they can solve, how many of those value gaps, their solution and deliver. So it’s a combination of the seller has to have a combination of business acumen and conversational capability to understand the buyer’s business, their entire business, and to get beyond the silo that is the one that owns the budget for this particular purchase to all of the business needs, and then be the expert in the solution so that they can leverage all of their company’s capabilities into that customer’s situation. So that area of overlap is the greatest possible.
Mark Stiving: I don’t have as much experience as you do in sales, but I loved the phrase business acumen. And I would rather have salespeople that have business acumen for my buyers and then have a technical person help them with the technical side.
Mark Boundy: That is one of the things that I do outside of my Miller Heiman work is, um, having gone through that top-level business school and then, um, having decades of experience in business as general manager, as a leader. Um, I was lucky enough to work for GE Capital where I call on CFOs and got to talk about big business issues all day long. I develop a skill set that I didn’t realize I had of coming up to speed on a stranger’s business really quickly. And some of the skills that I developed, I’ve found that the other consultants around me weren’t as good at. And so I started collecting what’s, what’s different about my approach to business. And so I’ve developed a quick business acumen for, and I would, I started at the sellers, but somebody said, mark, everybody who touches a customer, everybody in your business needs this kind of business acumen, not just your salespeople, but you need to, as a business to business, especially seller, you need to really be the one responsible for helping your customer think outside of their own silo and understand their, all of their business needs.
Mark Boundy:I, I think that was perfect,
Mark Stiving: Mark, unfortunately, we are running out of time, but before we wrap up, can I ask, here’s the big question. What’s one big piece of pricing advice that you could give our listeners that you think would have a big impact on their business?
Mark Boundy: It’s that magic question. What does this mean to you and how much is this costing you every year? Or how much could you, what financial difference could this make to you if you were to solve this problem and then shut up because they have the, and shut up and listen
Mark Stiving: and they’ll give you, essentially they’re going to tell you here’s where your value comes from.
Mark Boundy: Yeah, yeah, I was, I’ve always been the highest price, whatever I was selling, you know, wire and cable, I was the highest price of cable. When was a GE capital has sold money? I was the highest price of money. So you can’t tell me that there’s a commodity that can’t be premium priced. But it was always about what problem are we solving and how can we structure this so that it solves your problem better than any other money out there.
Mark Stiving: And I have to say, as a pricing person, I would so much rather be on the side of value and high price than I would on low price and cutting costs every day of the week.
Mark Boundy: Yeah. Being in a company that has to cut its way to profitability is no fun. That’s a kind of a sucky culture to be in. And you know, it happens if you were in the oil field services business or capital equipment into oil and 2016 2017 when the price of oil was tanking, those companies had to cut their way to survival. And so you can cut your way to survival. You can cut your way to profitability, but you can’t shrink your way to growth.
Mark Stiving: Absolutely. What a great line to leave this on. Mark, thank you so much for your time that if anybody wants to contact you, how can they do that?
Mark Boundy: Reach out to me at Mark@boundyconsulting.com. That’s all one word. Bounty is almost like the paper towels. b o u n d y consulting.com.
Mark Stiving: Okay. You’re going to need a metaphor. We pick you up or something like that. The quicker picker upper
New Speaker: quicker picker upper yes. Yes. That’s what that one was. All right.
Mark Boundy: I never heard that one. At least not since yesterday. It says middle school.
Mark Stiving: Oh, okay. Okay. Episode 15 is in the can. Mark was fabulous. Thank you so much.
Mark Boundy: Thank you so much. I really, really appreciate it. What an opportunity.
Mark Stiving: Oh, this was fun. I learned a ton. I hope our listeners did too, and to our listeners, if you got value out of this podcast, please help us out. Please leave us a review. Tell a friend every little bit helps and we are hugely appreciative. If you help out, please send any compliments, suggestions, or questions directly to me, email@example.com and definitely don’t forget to listen to next week and another episode of Impact Pricing.