Ep101: Pricing and Channel Strategy: The Importance of Understanding Customer Supply Chain Economics with Ben Blaney

 

Ben Blaney has had broad pricing stints with companies like GE, Pros, Colfax, and Updegraff Group Realty. To date, he is with Vendavo taking the role of Vice President for Pre-Sales.

In this episode, Ben talks about how misunderstood, underserved, and undervalued channel selling or channel management is. He shares that unless you have a clear understanding of your value chain, only then you can price your channel partners. As this pandemic shaped how we need to look at the future, so has e-commerce posed an important issue on how we should think about whether it be considered a channel in itself.

 

Why you have to check out today’s podcast:

  • Learn to understand the value a channel brings to you to help you price your channel partners
  • Find out the force multiplier effect of your channel partners in your product distribution
  • Learn how to make the value chain better for you, your distributor, and ultimately your end-customer

 

“On a whiteboard, on a piece of paper, draw all of your channels to market. How many steps are there on this value chain? How many possible different ways are there? Because until you know that, you can’t possibly say how things should be priced into these different channel partners.”

– Ben Blaney

 

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Topics Covered:

01:11 – A funny story on how he started his pricing career

01:42 – Any transaction has already been priced

02:22 – What makes him love pricing

03:22 – Defining price

04:22 – What makes channel selling, channel management, and channel pricing underserved, misunderstood, and kind of undervalued

07:10 – What is a channel, and what are examples of it

09:51 – Seeing the important value distributors provide to manufacturers

11:26 – The force multiplier in the network of distributors

13:52 – Of commodity selling and delivered pricing

15:13 – Sell on Amazon or get distributors

18:42 – What the future of e-commerce would likely be

20:18 – What a distributor provides that an e-commerce platform could not

21:57 – The difference between distributor and brokerage

24:47 – What is going to distinguish the winners in channels from the losers

25:21 – Creating a unified price in the marketplace

27:36 – The essence of shifting from cost-plus pricing to value-based pricing

29:43 – The need for data cleansing

31:19 – Ben’s best pricing advice that could impact your business

 

Key Takeaways:

“I kind of feel like the word price always needs a word before or after it because otherwise you can quickly become confused about what we’re talking about.” – Ben Blaney

“To understand the value a channel brings to you, say, manufacturer, that’s the only thing that tells you how you should price to and through the channel.” – Ben Blaney

“In commodity selling, you talk about a delivered price, meaning you are accommodating for the cost of transportation to the customer organization. These are important things; these are valuable to the end customer. And so, they’re worth, the manufacturer, taking that margin out of their own pocket and put it in distributor because it’s better for the value chain. You express better value for your customer.” – Ben Blaney

“The moment that the distributor fails to understand that the distributor has this function to provide over and above what can be provided by the manufacturer, that’s the moment of which they are obsoleting themselves as a step in the value chain.” – Ben Blaney

“It’s the focus, that relentless, obsessive focus on what the end-customer needs and wants, is going to distinguish the winners in channels from the losers.” – Ben Blaney

 

Connect with Ben Blaney:

 

Connect with Mark Stiving:   

  • Email: mark@impactpricing.com
  • LinkedIn

 

Full Interview Transcript  

(Note: This transcript was created with an AI transcription service. Please forgive any transcription or grammatical errors. We probably sounded better in real life.) 

Ben Blaney

On a whiteboard, on a piece of paper, draw all of your channels to market. How many steps are there on this value chain? How many possible different ways are there? Because until you know that, you can’t possibly say how things should be priced into these different channel partners.

[Intro]

Mark Stiving

Welcome to Impact Pricing, the podcast where we discuss pricing, value, and the sometimes indirect relationship between them. I’m Mark Stiving. Today our guest is Ben Blaney. Here are three things you want to know about Ben before we start. He has broad experience in pricing, including stints at GE, Colfax, and Pros. He is currently VP of Pre-Sales at Vendavo. And he has lived in eight countries more than most of us have even visited. Welcome, Ben.

Ben Blaney 

Yeah, it’s good to be here.

Mark Stiving

It’s going to be fun. How did you get into pricing?

Ben Blaney 

Funnily enough, it was related to the conversation you and I had a little while ago; I worked in government contracting, where, you know, my joke is, ‘You don’t know a tough customer until you’ve had the government as your customer who can literally make a law about how you can price to them.’ So, you have to get super creative with the government. And I found ways of getting creative with pricing. I didn’t know I was pricing, but apparently, I was. And that was the way it all started.

Mark Stiving

Isn’t it funny how almost everything is pricing, even though you don’t realize it’s pricing?

Ben Blaney 

Exactly how it is, you know, any transaction, any successful sale has been priced. And so yeah, I feel like when people are talking about digital transformation, sales transformation, unless they’re thinking about pricing being right in the middle of it, they’re missing something.

Mark Stiving

And instead of pricing, I use the word pricing a lot. I love it. But I often go back to the word value because that’s the fulcrum of everything we’re talking about, how to communicate and capture more value through our pricing.

Ben Blaney

Yeah, that’s right.

Mark Stiving

I agree. Why do you stay in pricing?

Ben Blaney 

I suppose you get to a point where, you know, you’ve established some base of knowledge and expertise, and you establish some kind of reputation and experience and a rolodex. And so, at that point, the status becomes easier than motion, doesn’t it? That’s probably the kind of basic answer. But the truth is, I do still find it interesting. And I do believe, just as I said a moment ago, that it’s the pivotal thing. It’s fundamental to any commercial activity. And people don’t give it its proper credence. And so, I’m happy to be part of, you know, moving the needle on the world’s knowledge of how these matters.

Mark Stiving

Yeah, and not only that, it feels to me like most people don’t understand pricing, they don’t know what it means, they don’t really give it the attention it deserves. People like you and I can have so much impact on a company with the things that we can teach them and help them with.

Ben Blaney 

Yeah, I think one of the problems and even pricing people, I’ll do it today, almost certainly, maybe you will, too. I think all of us, whenever we say price, to define what price that is. Is it an inter-stock price? Is it a channel price? Is it a customer price? Is it a list price, a country price? Is it a negotiated price? Is it, you know, I kind of feel like the word price always needs a word before or after it because otherwise you can quickly become confused about what we’re talking about.

Mark Stiving

Yep, I agree completely. So, I asked you, what are you passionate about in pricing? And you list, first off, you said, it’s hard to answer that question. And then you gave me a few choices. And we decided we were going to talk about channel pricing. But what you really said was channel selling, channel management, and of course, channel pricing. So why did you lump all three of those together? When we say, well, let’s talk about channel pricing?

Ben Blaney 

Yeah, because I think that channels, in general, are enormously underserved, under-recognized under-understood in organizations. And so, what happens is, companies who sell through channels or companies who are the channel, because they don’t recognize the part in the value chain, from, you know, A to Z, failing to understand what the value chain is. The different mechanisms of getting to market means, you know, you like to talk about pricing, but it’s all about value. To understand the value a channel brings to you, say, manufacturer, that’s the only thing that tells you how you should price to and through the channel. And people shy away from it because it’s difficult. I think structurally also, channel management in large organizations, you know, I worked at GE, big channel selling in the division I worked in, you know, channel management is a function. And it’s largely administrative, largely legal compliance and agreements and all those things. And so, there was this governance unit, who didn’t really do much about price, didn’t do anything about pricing. The people who might be involved in commercial decisions didn’t want to dip their toes too far in the water because there’s this other group you see got this Venn diagram and people treading on toes. So, I think channels are incredibly interesting, but also difficult. But more than that, as I think into the future, as I think about what’s going to happen in the next five years of commercial activity in organizations’ scale. Channels are kind of going to become more important. For example, you know, you could take this conversation back five years, is e-commerce a channel? Or is it a mechanism of selling direct to people? I don’t think there’s a right answer. But I think asking the question is incredibly important for anybody undertaking this kind of activity. So then if I take this example of e-commerce and projects into the future, boy, we’re expecting changes, aren’t we? COVID and the pandemic have taught us that things that we thought were for good, or for certainly a good portion into the medium term are actually much more fragile. And so, we might be doing things differently, very soon. And how should we think about these things? So, it’s underserved, misunderstood, and kind of undervalued broadly?

Mark Stiving

Let’s start by defining a channel for anybody who doesn’t really know what we’re talking about. And then give me a couple of examples of channels that we could use. And by the way, I used to work in the semiconductor industry, I think you did, too. So, we could use that as one of our examples of channels. But what is a channel?

Ben Blaney 

Yeah, I mean, fundamentally, a channel is a mechanism by which you get to market. Okay, so you might be a manufacturer selling through channels to your end-user. So, let’s throw out some kind of the commonly used terms in the channel space. So, one might be a distributor. Okay. I would say a couple of key kind of characteristics of distributors. They take the title of goods, and to some extent, they stock products. Your product is the manufacturer in their facilities, to then serve your customers. So, you can think of that what’s happening, you’re placing inventory, you’re positioning inventory, closer to the customers, that’s a good thing. You’re leveraging, using the kind of power of the multiplier, by using your distributors, sales teams to do selling for you, the manufacturer, so distributor. Then you’ve got a reseller, okay? For me, a reseller is close to a distributor, but they might not take the title. They might not stock, but they do perform these commercial functions of finding a need, perhaps organizing specification activity for engineered goods, those kinds of things, okay? So, reseller, and then I think you’ve got value-added reseller where they are taking your product and making it, surrounding it with services. If you think about semiconductors, they might take hardware and build around software and services to present an offer a bundle, to the organization to the ultimate customer. Okay. And so, for me, these are the fundamentals of a channel. And then, of course, you’ve got the direct channel, which is your salaried, W2 employees, who are salespeople selling to your direct customers for various reasons. And this complexity quickly gets intertwined, isn’t it? That, you know, you don’t want your direct salespeople making deals with customers who are the customers of your channel partners, because that’s not right. You probably make more money when you sell direct because you don’t have to accommodate for the margin that has to exist in the intermediary stage. Okay, so those are a few things off the top of my head.

Mark Stiving

I think those are great examples. So, let’s talk about distributors for a second. I love working with distributors. I love thinking about it. And I remember when I was in the semiconductor industry, there seemed to be an attitude of we’re paying our distributors too much. How do we get another percent away from them? So, address that issue for me, would you?

Ben Blaney 

Yeah, very happily. Yeah. This is a common feeling on the part of the seller. And I do think that that feeling is increasing over time. Why? Because I do think, I consider myself a friend of the distributor community before, you know, we get angry letters or anything, but I do think as the business evolves, the manufacturer may perceive that distributor is doing less for the same compensation, the margin they can organize on a particular set of circumstances. Okay. Well, I think that represents a changing world. Okay, the world is changing faster than certainly big organizations keep up with commonly. And so, what it needs is for again, the origination, that is, the manufacturer in my example. To think, what is the value that I want this distributor to provide? What is the value the distributor does actually provide? And what’s fair compensation for that? Okay. And I think it’s easy to say, ‘Oh, my distributor is making a load of money, it’s on my IP, I’ve got factories, I’ve got raw materials, I’ve got a supply chain. And all they do is it comes in the front door and goes out the back door, you know, what’s up with that?’ You have to think about the value they provide; breaking bulk is a value. The manufacturer doesn’t want to break the bulk and sell individual pieces or cartons. Of course, the distributor should do it.

Mark Stiving

Yeah, and the distributor also has relationships with a lot of customers that manufacturers don’t have relationships with. That’s the whole reason they exist.

Ben Blaney 

That’s right. It’s this force multiplier; if you’ve got a network of 1000 distributors, and each of them has ten sellers, you’ve got 10,000 sellers on the street, selling your product. That’s a good thing. It’s a force multiplier.

Mark Stiving

Yeah, the other thing that I always thought of whenever I was in this situation is what you described in terms of how much value a distributor adds? I think of that as answering the will I question; will I use a distributor? So that’s solving the problem. But the other side of that coin, which we have to think about is which one decision. And if you think about a distributor salesperson, they can sell this manufacturers’ product, or they could sell another manufacturers’ product. So just because I want to cut my margin from 22 to 18 points, if the other manufacturer didn’t, I’m not going to be sold. So, it’s not as easy as just, ‘Hey, they’re giving us less value, we’re going to pay them less.’

Ben Blaney 

That’s exactly right, you know, recognizing that the distributor is a for-profit organization in their own right. They are perfectly able to make rational decisions for the health of their own business. It means we have to understand the value they bring us relative to their other options for suppliers. And what that means when the distributor deals with their customer, it’s very important to unpack these things. And in my experience, I’ve talked to a lot of big companies who sell through distribution; they do far too little of these activities of understanding the values in the channels. Everything can become a tone-deaf comment, cut a margin, cuts in distributor support; it’s very easy to make bad decisions if you’re not thinking about channels and the value they bring.

Mark Stiving

Yeah, and what’s really fascinating is, you can almost think of selling to a distributor as selling a commodity, right? Because oftentimes, in commodities, we don’t have enough differentiation between our products. And that’s why we think of it as a commodity. But suppose we’re going to sell it to a distributor. In that case, if we’re not recognizing and helping them be more successful, we’re essentially just saying, ‘Here, take my product and go sell it, it’s up to you’, where the more value we can add to the distributor, the more likely they are to sell our product, the more margin we’re going to get, or the smaller margin we have to give them to sell our product.

Ben Blaney 

Yeah, I agree completely. I think the analogy is nice. If you think about what happens or how people price in commodity organizations, genuine commodities, right, often figure about, you know, the word that goes before the price word. Often in commodity selling, you talk about a delivered price, meaning you are accommodating for transportation cost to the customer organization. If we transpose that into this distributor environment, then what we’re doing is we’re making sure that the cost to the ultimate customer is on parity, because between us and the distributor, we’re organizing placing material where it needs to be breaking bulk if necessary. These are important things; these are valuable to the end customer. They’re worth the manufacturer, taking that margin out of their own pocket and putting it in distributor because it’s better for the value chain. You express better value for your customer.

Mark Stiving

Absolutely. So, we’re back to value again. Let me ask you’d mentioned this earlier. It’s always a challenge in many companies as companies go direct more and more through e-commerce. How do they avoid competing with their distribution or channels? Whether it’s a distributor or reseller, whatever it is, that’s a really hard decision.

Ben Blaney 

It’s a really hard decision. Yeah. And so, you’ve seen that a lot in the last five years, with even some quite, you know, unusual companies selling on Amazon. Okay, Amazon being their channel partner to many, many organizations. Right now, they’re the biggest channel partner in the world, I would think. Okay, and so yeah, these questions have to be considered, ‘Okay, if I put all my products on Amazon, Amazon can deliver them next day to most people in most Western world. What does that do for my distributors?’ Now, it’s a legitimate choice to say, ‘You know what, if I’ve got Amazon, I don’t need rinky dink distributors in every third biggest city in every state in the United States.’ Okay, that’s a legitimate choice to make. However, I would encourage you to be a deliberate choice, at least, I think what happens sometimes is it’s an accidental choice that someone, somewhere says, we should sell on Amazon, go do that. And people say, ‘All right, well, let’s get that going.’ It’s about the second order effects of decision-making. And so, thinking that through is incredibly important. I would say there’s no right answer, but I think the key to the right answer is to think, where is this going in three years? Okay. If you can imagine a world in which you’re wholly selling on Amazon and direct and you don’t need any distributors, fine. Go ahead and do it. Okay, but if you think you might need distributors to perform, back to value, services that Amazon won’t provide, then you’re going to keep your distributors for certain things. In which case, what does that look like? Maybe your distributor needs to morph themselves into a reseller, or a value-added reseller from being a distributor because they can’t win against Amazon holding stock and having the logistics networks to do the last mile in 24 hours. Okay? But these are big conversations to have, and people are having.

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Mark Stiving 

It feels like the B2C distributors are in much bigger trouble than the B2B distributors are today. Would you agree with that or no?

Ben Blaney 

I think so. Yes, I think it’s, I would say that I agree with that today. I think there’s an increasing B2B to C phenomenon occurring that even companies who think of themselves as B2B are beginning to recognize that there’s the next step at some point. And so, they are starting to think about how to solve that problem if you want to call it a problem. And yeah, pure B2B companies. I mean, think of, you know, go back to the process industry and commodity chemicals like polyethylene, okay, I’ve dealt with a bunch of polyethylene organizations in the world. You sell these things to anyone who makes anything out of plastic, and they melt them down and turn them into plastic. They want it to be okay; you’ve probably got a bit more time you’re probably not going to sell your polyethylene chips on Amazon. Not today, perhaps. But could it happen? Well, maybe because your plastic manufacturer who’s making, whatever they’re making out of plastic, you know, maybe they want to buy differently at some point. And, you know, everyone wants to buy quickly. Everyone wants to buy a mobile-enabled. And so yeah, maybe there is a market for that to happen by e-commerce that we’re not ready for, but I don’t think I know what’s going to happen yet.

Mark Stiving 

I think that’s a pretty fair statement. If I were an engineer designing a board and I wanted some semiconductors, I’d probably just go online and order them, probably wouldn’t go through a distribution channel to go find them or talk to a salesperson to go get them. Yeah, this is what I want.

Ben Blaney 

That’s right. I think the exception to that I would argue for fun, is, if you’re designing a board, and you need a chip to go on it, a reason to go to a distributor is and I deal with a couple of electronics distributors, as you know, is that the distributor has engineering resources on the board side, rather than on the manufacturing side. Engineering resources at the semiconductor manufacturer are focused on reducing the size and power throughputs. And those kinds of things. How many transistors can you get on a 17-micron square? Engineers on the distribution side are much more about application engineering, which is a value-added service. And so, what you see actually, all the way through that semiconductor value chain is an end-user, an OEM, maybe the people who make fridges. These people who make cars, you know, thousands of chips in a car now, and they’re, you know, they’re going to distribute and say, ‘I need a chip that does roughly this thing, and I want it to perform this function in my product, helped me out and give me a sample give me 10 of those and 10 of those and 10 of those.’ You wouldn’t get that if you went direct to a manufacturer because they’ll give you that 10. But you might want to sample different ones. So, there’s always an option for a function to be fulfilled by a distributor, I think.

Mark Stiving 

And I think the real point that you just made is that the service matters. If I’m going to offer you a service of helping you with design helping you with the application, I’m going to end up getting paid for it; you’re going to go through my sales channel, whatever that looks like.

Ben Blaney 

Yeah, that’s right. I mean, the moment that the distributor fails to understand that the distributor has this function to provide over and above what can be provided by the manufacturer, that’s the moment in which they are obsoleting themselves as a step in the value chain. I’ll give you an example, which is, when I worked at GE, I won’t name the organization. But I worked at GE and selling through channels through specifying engineers, and our people with a manufacturer. Remember, our people were asked to go to the first meeting with an end-user customer. Why? Because the distributor didn’t have the engineering skills to be able to mediate this conversation. So, at that point, they’re really just a brokerage, rather than a distributor, just saying, ‘Oh, here’s a guy who wants to buy something. There’s a guy who’s got, you guys should talk.’ And I’ll take, ‘Let’s be clear, what was that a very healthy number?’ And that did raise that question for me as the manufacturer to say, ‘Well, hang on a minute, you know, if they sell this thing at my list price, which is I’m hoping they will do, they’ll make this much margin. And I’m going to make this much margin, which is less, and they really not doing much here.’ That’s a distributor who needs to evolve and kind of step up to their role or say to themselves, ‘You know what, I don’t want to do that engineering specification. I’ll just be a brokerage. And I’ll take a flat 10% for connecting these two people with a phone call.’

Mark Stiving 

Yeah, I think another thing you just pointed out that was really interesting and important is who owns the customer? In the past, it’s always been the channel that’s been closest to the customer, and they own the customer. And manufacturers are trying to find ways through registrations or warranty cards, or whatever it is to get the names of their customers. And so, I think that’s a really important point.

Ben Blaney 

Yeah, these are often not necessarily dysfunction but can be dysfunction between the channel management and administration function and the pricing function, because you know, the channel management function who’s maintaining the legal agreements between organizations and then you’ve got marketing involved saying, ‘Look, let me send warranty cards, let me scrape this information. And maybe in the future, we’ll have these customers and we’ll sell to them directly.’ And the channel organization, ‘I don’t know if that really is appropriate if that’s permissible within the terms of our agreement.’ These are serious conversations to be had by leaders in an organization, but they’re hard. It’s difficult when people don’t have them.

Mark Stiving 

Yeah. So, I think everybody’s got to figure out who that end-customer is and start to try to own them to the best of their ability. That’s where the future is going to be.

Ben Blaney 

That’s right. It’s the focus, that relentless, obsessive focus on what the end-customer needs and wants, is going to distinguish the winners in channels from the losers.

Mark Stiving 

Speaking of this relentless focus on the end-customer, when I teach people to price through a channel, what I always teach them is start at the end-customer. What’s that end-customer willing to pay? And now, ‘How much do I have to give each channel partner?’ Right, as I work my way back. Is that how you would approach it? Would you do something different?

Ben Blaney 

I think there’s certainly a legitimate way. And I think the benefit of your method is to say, look, if I need to present a unified market price to possible buyers, what you’re doing, your method avoids channel conflict. If you say, look, all end customers need to buy $100 for this thing, if I sell it through a channel, I sell it to them for 70. And they sell it for 100. Make 30. If I sell it, I sell it for a hundred, and so on. So, you’re creating this unified price in the marketplace; that’s a good thing. And I’m perfectly okay with that. I think the step I’m particularly interested in is, okay, I want it to be 100, no matter how the end-customer buys, I want it to be 100. Okay, well, what do I feel is an appropriate margin for the distributors to make relative the reseller, they’ve taken title, they’ve held stock, they’ve broken bulk, they’ve helped with design and specification, reseller took an order. What’s a different level of compensation? So that drives how I sell to them, knowing that they want to make a certain amount, but then I try to influence them to make sure the hundred dollars out price is still valid. So, it’s a couple of steps in the same process; I find it helpful to think about these things in a waterfall construct. To say, you know, in a number of circumstances, here’s how it flows. And here’s the difference. And it’s visual, despite being a pricer. And sort of, above average the… I would hope I like to visualize things.

Mark Stiving 

I think that was a spot-on answer. I loved it. The second to the last question. I always struggle with cost-plus pricing. So, I rail against cost-plus. I just love value-based pricing; I define it as charge what your customers are willing to pay. And yet, when you have organizations that have 100,000 SKUs, they’re going to use cost-plus pricing, what would you advise them? I want to say these organizations; I’m typically thinking distribution channels, things like that.

Ben Blaney 

Yeah, I see. It’s a compelling issue. And, you know, frankly, we haven’t seen enough progress in this area. In the 20 years, I’ve been kind of monitoring it; I’m sure you feel the same, that, you know, if you go to a conference now, you’ll still hear people talking about, you know, don’t do cost-plus pricing, do value pricing. And it shouldn’t be new at this point. But you’re right; people are still struggling with making that shift. And I would say one of the steps is, I don’t know, I can’t remember the last time I met a business of any kind, who had no channel implications at all. And so, one of the steps I want to kind of insert into that process of a shift from cost-plus pricing to value-based pricing is okay, we’ll let’s first establish the mechanisms by which you get to market. Which channels are involved? And then inside channels, which players are involved? And what are the differences between them, and how can we appropriately recognize those things in our pursuit to extract maximum willingness to pay both from them and from their customer to them. That’s, it’s a, it’s not a zero-sum game here. If you can help your channel partner make money, they will lean to you. And so, helping them do that is for me, that kind of keys to the kingdom.

Mark Stiving 

I think that brings us back to what we talked about earlier in the day. The question I’m really asking them distributors, which I’d love to hear your thought on, is when we would sell semiconductors to a distributor, they said, Hey, we’re going to do 21-point margin. And in fact, at one point in time, I took a distributor, and I tore down all their prices relative to the prices that we sold it to them at. And we could create a formula and says this is exactly how they’re doing their pricing, right. It’s cost-plus based on volume and, and I knew it precisely. But what I’d love to coach them on is how do you take some parts and charge more margin for those because you can get away with it and take other parts and take less margin because you know, you can’t get away with it.

Ben Blaney 

Yeah, I mean, it’s especially in semiconductors, the count of skews and the volumes of these skews are kind of off the charts. And I always find you have to do a lot of data cleansing, don’t you, in semi because you’re going to have these, you’re going to have samples, just as we discussed, you know. If I’m an engineer at Ford, designing the new, you know, Focus or whatever, you know, I want a few samples. I might pay for them, I might not, and they might be extremely high prices. Another example of that is in the metering business, you know, meters on the side of the house for electricity and gas. You know, that’s an oligopoly. Most people don’t notice now we’ve got plenty. And, of course, homeowners don’t choose their meter. All right, but what happens is the meter companies buy the other meter companies, meters to pull them apart, and they’re the only people who pry the actual list price. So, if you dive into meter company data, you’ll find a sale of a quantity of five, these usually consists of a million, right, because you’re doing, you know, whole cities, right? So, you’ll find a quantity of five that are more profitable than a quantity sold of a million, because that was the other competitor, though car companies do as well. Ferrari buys the new Lamborghini and BMW buys the new Mercedes; they pull them apart. Okay, but they’re not getting discounts, sorry. You’ve got it. Cleaning this data is really, really kind of early step; always kind of makes me laugh.

Mark Stiving 

Yeah, this is fun. Ben, we’re running out of time. But we got to have the last question. What’s the one piece of pricing advice you would give our listeners that you think could have a big impact on their business?

Ben Blaney 

Yeah, well, as it pertains to channels in particular, which is, you know, it’s my relentless and obsessive focus is channels, is, I often ask people as a very first step, draw, I mean, I miss whiteboards now. We’re in this COVID world, but, you know, on a whiteboard on a piece of paper, draw your all of your channels to market. I’m the, here’s my intermediate, here’s my end customer. How many steps are there on this value chain? How many possible different ways are there? Okay? Because until you know that, you can’t possibly say how things should be priced into these different channel partners. And then you’re asking the question you asked earlier, which is, do I start with the end price? Or do I price in and let them build up their prices and hope they wind up where I want them to wind up? So, understand channels, draw it, make it a picture? Here’s me; here’s my intermediate is, is all the ways it could work. And then, here are the ways I want it to work. You know, I like this channel. I don’t want to sell like this. I do want to do more of that. I think the future is here. I think customers want to do it like this. That visual will tell you everything you need to do next.

Mark Stiving 

Phenomenal answer. And I just want to give you a little hint, Ben, Amazon sells whiteboards.

Ben Blaney 

I should… I get… The trouble is, if I did, would I ever be at my computer? I’d always be whiteboarding something.

Mark Stiving

Ben, thank you so much for your time today. If anyone wants to contact you, how can they do that?

Ben Blaney 

Pretty easy to find on LinkedIn is Ben Blaney B L A N E Y. And yeah, I’d love to hear from anyone.

Mark Stiving 

Excellent. Episode 101 is all finished. Would you please leave us a review for this episode and all of our episodes? We hugely appreciate them. They’re very valuable to us. MJ 141317 left us a review that said: Awesome Content.

“I can’t wait to see more episodes.”

Please join our community at Champions of Value. You’ll find that at community.championsofvalue.com. That’s where we post all of our free content, the memes, the blogs, videos, the podcasts. If you have any questions or comments about this podcast or pricing in general, feel free to email me mark@ impactpricing.com. Now, go make an impact!

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