Ep28: Rhondalynn Korolak – businest®: Get The Answers You Need To Run Your Business Better, Grow Profitably And Boost Cash Flow
Rhondalynn Korolak is the Managing Director of businest, a simple and effective tool for greater time focus and profitable growth. Rhondalynn is a lawyer, chartered accountant, best-selling author and business coach. She has a wealth of 20 years of senior management and business coaching experience, which enabled her to uncover the secrets of business success. She was able to produce a simple, step-by-step process to boost sales, bottom line and cash flow. Her consulting work focuses now in the accounting industry.
Rhondalynn shares a whole new concept of neuroscience affecting pricing. Imagine making it easier for people to say yes to the value you will give without the tricks or any force to do it. Further, she will provide in-depth discussions on the six C’s of pricing to effectively create value to your clients. Listen as she connects the two concepts that she is passionate about – teaching accountants to ask questions and find value, and using emotions in making decisions. Tune in as Rhondalynn will give exciting peeks of her best-selling books in today’s exciting episode.
Why you have to check out today’s podcast:
- Discover how Rondalynn is helping accountants understand how to add value and why she thinks branding, social media, and marketing are a waste of money
- Know how Rondalynn helps accountants find their clients’ “thirst” and “hunger” and make their pains more painful
- Get to know how neuroscience affects pricing that will let your clients say yes to your solutions
“I don’t spend all heaps of time on convincing. Because if you can lay the proverbial breadcrumbs like a Hansel and Gretel, all the way along in the process, you shouldn’t have a hard time to close people. They should be dying to say yes. If they’re thirsty for what you have and you’ve got a glass of water, they’ll pay any price for it. That’s my philosophy.”
– Rhondalynn Korolak
01:40 – Sharing why she is passionate about helping fellow accountants to improve soft skills
02:57 – How she is helping the accountants to understand how to add value and why she thinks branding, social media, and marketing are a waste of money
03:59 – Mark discusses the three Cs of pricing
04:31 – Rhondalynn explains her six Cs of pricing
06:48 – How she helps accountants find the “thirst” or “hunger” of their clients
08:30 – The compelling reason why Rhondalynn advises accountants to ask questions and listen to their clients first
10:28 – An interesting relationship between neuroscience and pricing
11:27 – What Price Club is all about and the rules of pricing
12:11 – Why she is passionate about neuroscience
13:04 – How she ties the two concepts of teaching accountants to ask questions and find value, and using emotions in making decisions
17:26 – Understanding cashflow so simple that a 6-year old kid can get it, as written in her book Financial Foreplay
18:22 – What a deal-breaker is and a few examples
20:07 – A price of pricing advice that would impact the business of the listeners
“People make pricing decisions that are largely driven by survival and emotional cues.” – Rhondalynn Korolak
“That’s why I’m really passionate about focusing on neuroscience because it’s how we make it easier for people to say yes. We’re not trying to trick them into it. We’re not trying to coerce them into it. We’re just packaging up our message so much more in a simple fashion that it’s just easy for the brain to go yet. I’m thirsty. I need that solution right now. I say, yes, that’s it.” – Rhondalynn Korolak
“I’ve always believed that people tend to make that first decision emotionally and then they have to find a way to justify it.” – Mark Stiving
“If you go into the relationship thinking to value price something, you’re going to make a mistake probably. And that mistake is you’re going to be thinking about, what do I need to get? I want you to go into that relationship thinking, how do I add more value? Adding more value first earns you the right to be able to put your prices up. So please enter the relationship thinking about how are you going to create more value first and then the pricing is only 5% of it. That’s the easy part.” – Rhondalynn Korolak
“Whether you need tier pricing and should your prices end on a nine. All that stuff is job number two. Job Number one is, please remember that your job is actually to add more value first.” – Rhondalynn Korolak
Check out and read Rhondalynn Korolak’s books:
- Pricing Value: The Art of Pricing What Your Accounting Clients Value Most
- From Value Pricing to Pricing Value: Using Science, Psychology, and Systems to Attract Higher Paying Clients to Your Accounting Firm
- Financial Foreplay: Whip Your Business Into Shape – Take Home More Cash
Connect with Rhondalynn Korolak:
Connect with Mark Stiving
Full Interview Transcript
(Note: This transcript was created using Temi, an AI transcription service. Please forgive any transcription or grammatical errors. We probably sounded better in real life.)
Rhondalynn Korolak: First rule of pricing is you don’t talk about your prices, you don’t ask your customers what they might want to pay. You bloody have to put prices on stuff and test it and see what happens.
Mark Stiving: Welcome to Impact Pricing, the podcast where we discuss pricing, value and the tight relationship between them. I’m Mark Stiving and today our guest is Rhondalynn Korolak. Say That fast, three times. Here are three things you want to know about Rhondalynn before we start. She has written five books and the last two were about pricing. She started out life as both an accountant and a lawyer and she gave all of that up just to be a pricing expert. Welcome, Rhondalynn.
Rhondalynn Korolak: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
Mark Stiving: Was that close? Did you give all that up just to be a pricing expert?
Rhondalynn Korolak:Oh, look, I think my main job if you want to call it that, is I want to work with accountants and teach them how to move into finding, attracting and retaining higher caliber clients, and so pricing is just one component of that. But yes.
Mark Stiving: It’s more of a business consulting type thing.
Rhondalynn Korolak: Yes.
Mark Stiving: For specifically the accounting industry?
Rhondalynn Korolak: Yes, only accountants, so I only work now with accountants.
Mark Stiving: Okay. Well first before I answer that, Oh God, you’re not going to want to answer this question. How did you get into pricing? Because you just said you don’t do pricing, but how did you get into pricing?
Rhondalynn Korolak: I do pricing. It’s just one component of the overall structure of what I do. Basically what happened was I started off as a cashflow expert because I actually love cash flow. It’s my favorite thing and I worked with, as you can imagine, lots of small businesses, but that led me down the path of starting to work with accountants and teaching them how they can better work with their clients to actually fix cashflow. One of the biggest issues that I think we have in the whole industry is this, everyone wants to sell dashboards and KPIs and forecast. That only diagnoses financial pain, it doesn’t fix it. So I want to figure out how do we, as accountants, fix the problem and fixing the problem means we have to deal with all kinds of stuff that’s not just financial. We have to deal with their stinking thinking. We have to deal with their marketing issues. And unfortunately as accountants we didn’t get trained to do that stuff in school. And so that’s what I’m really passionate about, it’s all of the soft skills that really make us better accountants to our clients.
Mark Stiving: So if I understand this correctly, it isn’t just understanding the accountant’s cashflow, it’s understanding the cashflow of the accountant’s clients.
Rhondalynn Korolak:Yes. And understanding how do we add value? I mean at the end of the day when you go out and someone comes to you and says, I need help with my payroll, I need a tax return. That’s all well and fine. But the client doesn’t actually value that stuff highly. And they can’t tell the difference between accountant A and accountant B, which is why they asked for a discount. And so when accountants come to me and say, you know, help me grow my practice, I don’t start with marketing. I don’t say, okay, let’s, you know, go out and social media and brand you and do all this stuff. I can. I don’t care about that stuff at all. I’m really fundamentally interested about what’s your business model? How do you financially make money in your practice? If you could charge based on value, you might make 30, 40% more. You wouldn’t have to go out and market yourself. And so my approach is quite a bit different than a lot of the consultants that are out there who are, I think, overly concerned with brand and social media and marketing. I think it’s a waste of money.
Mark Stiving: It very well could be a waste of money and a lot of those. It turns out that when I think about pricing, and I’ll use the word pricing a lot today, but when I think about pricing, I think it’s of the three C’s of pricing. They’re not the three C’s you think of. I think of creating value, communicating value, and capturing value, and most of the time when we talk about pricing, we talk about how do we capture value, but what I just heard you describe was I need to understand how accountants are actually creating value, so then we can go communicate it. I think that’s absolutely amazing. Would you agree with that thought process?
Rhondalynn Korolak: Yeah. Look, to me, I think of it as succeeds, right? So my six C’s are first control your fear, right?
Mark Stiving: She’s got twice as many C’s as I do. This is horrible.
Rhondalynn Korolak:So we’re going to control your fear, your stinking thinking. We’re going to get on top of that. Number two, we’re going to comprehend value. What is the value in the eyes of the client? Then we’re going to create it. After we’ve created it. We’re going to figure out how in the hell do we, as accountants, capture more of that in our firm instead of worrying about profit, which is useless. It’s a bag of buttons, right? I don’t care about profit. I care about how much value you capture, then we’re going to, you know, communicate it. And lastly, we’re going to convince, and I don’t spend all heaps of time on convincing because if you can lay the proverbial breadcrumbs like a Hansel and Gretel all the way along in the process, you shouldn’t have to hard close people. They should be dying to say yes. If they’re thirsty for what you have and you’ve got a glass of water, they’ll pay any price for it. You know, that’s my philosophy.
Mark Stiving: Nice. And so how do you help them find where the, um, do you think of it as value holes, value deserts, places where people aren’t getting served?
Rhondalynn Korolak: Correct. I think of it as a value desert. So in chapter one of my books, both books, Pricing Value and From Value Pricing to Pricing Value. Chapter one deals with this whole concept of a glass of water, right? How thirsty is somebody we need to figure out are our customers sitting in their lounge room where they can just go to the tap and get their own glass of water? Are they driving down the road with three or two or three screaming, thirsty toddlers in the back seat and the only place they can find water is 711 or are they, you know, crawling across the desert in the heat 40 something degrees Celsius and they haven’t had a drink for days. We have to know how thirsty people are. You know, to me it comes down to this, you know, how thirsty are you? Why are you thirsty? And if you had a glass of water, what would it be worth to you right now? That’s my methodology in a nutshell.
Mark Stiving: Yeah. And so I guess my real question then is how do you help them find thirst? Right? Is it thirst? Is it hunger? Is it tired? Is it… How do you help them find what the hole is they’re trying to fill?
Rhondalynn Korolak: Well, open-ended questions, to start. I think we as accountants like to tell people stuff, right? We like that power. People come to us with complex questions and we just tell. And so we need to get better at asking questions, open-ended questions, and just listening to what people tell us, not jumping in and trying to help them. Right? You don’t want to jump in if someone’s thirsty and give them a sip of water. We want to develop the thirst. So I might ask things like, you know, can you talk to me about what your number one challenges right now in business? What’s keeping you up at night? What’s making it so that you can’t sleep? And then you just shut up and let them tell you stuff.
Mark Stiving: And maybe you ask a follow on a question and make the pain a little bit more painful.
Rhondalynn Korolak: Yes. You know, sometimes I’ll say things like, so we just determined that you think this problem x, whatever it is, is potentially costing you $10,000 a day. So if this were to continue on for another six months, how much would it cost you not to fix it right now? You know, so I’m digging and getting, I need them to tell me, right? I don’t want to tell them what the answers. I need them to tell me what it is.
Mark Stiving: Right. You don’t want to multiply 10,000 times 150 days. You want them to do the multiplication
Rhondalynn K: and then since they’re in it for a little while.
Mark Stiving: Yeah. Why do you think, why do you think firms don’t do this more? Why? Why do they need you to tell them to go ask questions and listen to customers?
Rhondalynn Korolak: Because we weren’t taught it in school. You know, in accounting school, everyone gets taught, you know, what is sales tax? Why do we need it? We write essays about it. We learn how to do a tax return, we learn how to do cash flow and it’s either right or wrong. There are no three ways to do cashflow. It’s either correct or it is incorrect. And so we’re very accuracy-focused and we’re very, you know, solution and process and transaction-focused. There is no class in accountancy school on how do you dig for pain? How do you create value? Yeah. I think that’s a huge oversight. I think we’re graduating people for jobs that don’t exist anymore.
Mark Stiving: Jobs that AI is probably going to take over quickly.
Rhondalynn Korolak: Yes.
Mark Stiving: Nice. And by the way, I don’t think that’s just accounting schools. I think it’s all business schools. It’s all engineering schools. Everybody in school is taught, here’s how to find the answer and we’re rarely taught. Here’s how to ask the question.
Rhondalynn Korolak: Correct.
Mark Stiving: It is very interesting.
Mark Stiving: How’s the podcast going? Are you getting value? Research shows that people don’t really value what they get for free, but I’m hoping you’ll prove this research wrong. Please demonstrate to us and the entire world that you value this podcast. Would you please pause the podcast? Subscribe if you haven’t already done so. Rate the podcast and leave us a short review. You’d be doing a huge favor and research shows, if you invest this little bit of time, you’ll probably like the podcast even more. Win-win! Pause. Do it now. We’ll wait for you.
Mark Stiving: You mentioned to me that you had an interest in neuroscience and pricing. First off, what does that even mean?
Rhondalynn Korolak: Okay. Well, in a nutshell, there are many different things that affect pricing and if you read any book on pricing, you’re going to likely be exposed to behavioral psychology.
You know, people talk about all the various studies that were done, but if you back it up a bit, you get into this whole realm of neuroscience and neuroscience is just simply the study of how our brains process and react to different stimuli that we take in through all of our senses… sight, you know, sound, hearing, touch, taste, all of that stuff. And how does our brain react to stuff and why I think that’s relevant to pricing is this, people make pricing decisions that are largely driven by survival and emotional cues.
They’re not rational. It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to try to logically think about pricing because you know, I have this little bit of a video that I’ve done and it comes out in the book and stuff as well where I talk about pricing like Fight Club, you know the movie that Brad Pitt was in, I call it Price club. You know, the first rule of pricing is you don’t talk about your prices. You don’t ask your customers what they might want to pay. You bloody have to put prices on stock and test it and see what happens.
You don’t want to overthink pricing. That’s rule number two, you don’t want to think too much about pricing because if you think about pricing, you’re going to be wrong because you put your own mental stuff on top of everything else. Rather than waiting and seeing what, what does your client need? What does your client value? Your thoughts about pricing mean nothing.
And so I’m really passionate about neuroscience because all I’m doing is saying, okay, the parts of the brain that make decisions, they can’t read numbers or words, you know, news flash, that part of the brain purely reacts to visual cues and instinct and emotions. So that tells you right there that the actual number in pricing is like 5% and all that other stuff is 95% and so that’s why I’m really passionate about focusing on neuroscience because it’s how do we just make it easier for people to say yes, we’re not trying to trick them into it, we’re not trying to coerce them into it. We’re just packaging up our message so much more in a simple fashion that it’s just easy for the brain to go, yup! I’m thirsty. I need that solution right now. I say, yes, that’s it.
Mark Stiving: Okay, so I need you to reconcile two different things that you’ve told me today. One thing you said is, I teach my accountants how to go out and ask questions and find out what the value is. And the client ends up telling me it’s one and a half million dollars over the course of six months. And then you just said, well, they don’t use numbers when they make decisions, they use something else. Emotions or vision or how do you tie those two concepts together?
Rhondalynn Korolak: So one and a half million dollars worth of pain to somebody, there’s emotion there, right? It’s not unusual when I’m doing diagnostics with my clients who used to be at, you know, business owners, but now largely accountants, it’s not unusual for 70% of the time for me to see some tears.
That’s how I know I’ve got people where they need to be for their own good. Because if somebody’s got a million and a half dollars with a pain or if someone tells me, look, if I don’t fix this problem in my business, my wife or my husband’s going to leave me and you know, we’re going to have a divorce and have to share our children’s custody. That’s what we need.
What I’m actually digging for is not the new miracle quantification so much, but what it means to the person. You know, if they don’t fix it, what’s going to happen? And not everything’s financial either. You know, there’s three types of pain: strategic, financial and personal. And bundled up in that pain, if you want to call it, is also just desired transformations. You know, like, I want to achieve x.
And so there will be some tangible financial components of that, but there could be, you know, I’m just, I can’t sleep, you know, I haven’t slept in five months. That’s a different kind of pain, but equally as powerful.
Mark Stiving: Yeah. That’s fascinating. It’s causing me to think, because I often say to my clients, if you’re in the B2B world, you can put a dollar value on everything. And you’re saying, Mark, that’s not right.
Rhondalynn Korolak: Not necessarily. Yeah.
Mark Stiving: Um, and I’m, I’m struggling with it. I’ll be honest. Right? I’m struggling with it to figure out how does it, how does it mesh? I certainly agree that if, if I’m not sleeping, if my wife’s gonna leave me, if these things are happening, that that’s a lot of stress, a lot of pain, and I want to try to get rid of that and I’ll pay money for it. But I have a hard time understanding how to value that. How would I value my wife’s not gonna leave me?
Rhondalynn Korolak: Well, look, there’s a cost to divorce. There’s a mental cost. There’s a tangible financial cost of you have to divide up the shares of your business. If you’ve got to sell your house, that’s, that’ll cost money. So there are different components. I like to think of it as intangible. Some people refer to it as spiritual or perceived value, but I always think this, there are different types of pain and there are different ways to quantify it, but the most powerful is usually the tangible stuff because you can point to it, right?
You can put your finger on say, but you just told me five minutes ago that if you don’t do my solution and we don’t fix this now you’re going to lose $1.5 million. That’s the most powerful because it’s tangible. So the brain has several different triggers, right? One of the triggers is like what’s in it for me? Another trigger is tangibility. So the more tangible something is, the easier it is for the deciding part of the brain to grasp it, get their head around it. That’s why I always say you make things simple.
You know, if we can make things simple enough for a six-year-old to understand, people will make decisions. I think that we, as accountants, complicate our message far too much. And that’s another reason why people say no or I need to think about it. You just said too much. You just went too far.
And what, you know, you started using jargon and words that they didn’t understand. That’s why cash flow is a really big nightmare situation because if we’re trying to help our clients with cashflow and the part of their brain that decides can’t read numbers or words, it does not help us to complicate or obfuscate people’s financial performance. I talk about, you know, when I wrote Financial Foreplay, my entire book is about penny and earnest.
Penny spends money in the relationship and Earnest earns it. I use bathtubs and seesaws and visuals to teach people why they’ve screwed up their cashflow without trying to teach them accounting. Right? So I’m trying to make it like if I can make cashflow or pricing so simple, a six-year-old kid gets it, I can teach anybody it.
Mark Stiving: Awesome. So here’s what I’ll walk away with. I’ll walk away from buying completely. And by the way, I’ve always believed this, that people tend to make that first decision emotionally and then they have to find a way to justify it. And when we come up with our numbers, we’re helping them justify, we’re coming up with the value, the one and half million dollars, we’re helping them justify, here’s why you’re going to give us $200,000 to solve that problem.
Rhondalynn Korolak: Yeah, so it’s, it’s a, it’s a combination of that. And one more little nuance, and I like to call it dealbreakers. We have to figure out what would cause somebody to walk away from this thing right now and say no. And we want to build up the emotional value by addressing that deal-breaker. So that’s the only little corollary that I’d add to that.
Mark Stiving: Give me an example of a deal-breaker.
Rhondalynn Korolak: So let’s just say that you’re selling software, right? Just for lack of a better example. You’re selling software and you’re thinking, well, my software looks like the next person’s software, but hold on a second. What if software A and B have different prices and B as half the value or half the price, but software B goes down all the time. And so people using software B can’t process orders. They can’t do their work because the software keeps crashing. Well all of a sudden that’s a deal-breaker, right? Because people are gonna say, well, software B is half the price, but if it keeps going down, I’m going to lose money because I can’t make sales. So that’s a deal-breaker. If your software doesn’t have good availability, I’m bloody walking away from it or you know, the other obvious example would be you need to get your kids from point A to point B, right? You can use a car or a motorcycle, but if you have a baby who in the world, in their right mind is going to put a baby on a motorcycle and drive them from point A to point B. Nobody. Because safety is the deal-breaker.
Mark Stiving: They don’t make helmets for babies?
Rhondalynn Korolak: Oh, I don’t think they do. Or knew that we needed to start a new company.
Mark Stiving: I always end with this question. So let me ask you, what’s the one piece of pricing advice you would give our listeners that you think would have a big impact on their business?
Rhondalynn Korolak: The biggest piece of advice is this. If you go into the relationship thinking to value price something, you’re going to probably make a mistake and that mistake is you’re going to be thinking about what do I need to get? I know my clients are price-conscious. How do I get people to pay more? I want you to go into that relationship thinking, how do I add more value? Adding more value first earns you the right to be able to put your prices up. So please enter the relationship thinking about how are you going to create more value first and then the pricing is only 5% of it. That’s the easy part. You know, whether you need three pricing and should your prices end on a nine all that stuff is job number two. Job Number one is please remember that your job is to actually add more value first.
Mark Stiving: Awesome. Love the answer. Rhondalynn, thank you so much for your time today. If anyone wants to contact you, how can they do that?
Rhondalynn Korolak: Easy. So my name is pretty unique, so you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org which is my business. You can type Rhondalynn on anything, Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter, and you’ll find me very easily. And if you’re interested in the book, it’s Pricing Value.
Mark Stiving: And it’s a beautiful cover. I love that cover.
Rhondalynn Korolak: Thank you.
Mark Stiving: Alright, episode 28 is in the can. What was your favorite part? Let us know in the comments or wherever you download it and listen. And while you’re at it, would you please give us a five-star review? It would be very helpful to us. If you have any questions or comments about the podcast or about pricing, feel free to email me at email@example.com. Now, go make an impact.
**NOTE: Mark will participate in the conversation about this post on LinkedIn which you can get to here.
Mark is a pricing expert who helps companies understand value, how to create it, communicate it and capture it. He has a PhD from U.C. Berkeley and an MBA from Santa Clara University, plus 25+ years pricing experience. As an educator, speaker and coach, Mark applies innovative, value-based pricing strategies to guide growth and increase profits for large and small companies.