EP41: Natalie Louie – Delivering Strategic Product Marketing and Pricing Expertise
Natalie Louie is the Director of Product Marketing at Hired where she leads pricing strategy, and sales enablement while working closely with stakeholders to ensure alignment and executional excellence.
With over 20+ years of experience in Silicon Valley and Wall Street, Natalie delivers strategic product marketing and pricing expertise. Prior to Hired, Natalie was in PMM at Responsys and during the Oracle acquisition and was Head of Cloud Pricing Operations at the Oracle Marketing Cloud. She also serves as an advisor for Impact Pricing. Natalie currently loves living in the Bay Area with her husband and 3 children.
In this episode, Natalie shares her pricing expertise, deep knowledge, and specialties on improving operations, revenue, profits, integrations, partnerships, managing, SaaS pricing and packaging, product marketing, planning, and development. She also digs deeper into what account-based marketing is all about, how it is related to pricing and product marketing, also the different cross-functional duties of the organization in order to close deals and increase win rates.
Why you have to check out today’s podcast:
- Learn about account-based marketing’s role in pricing your service
- Know how to lead an effective pricing strategy and sales enablement by working closely with stakeholders
- Discover how to effectively deliver strategic product marketing to your target market that increases your win rates
“The trend is that marketing actually has a seat at the revenue table. Because with things like marketing automation, where we can impact top of the funnel leads coming in, we now have a direct lever that impacts revenue.”
– Natalie Louie
Get Accelerate Your Subscription Business: Your Blueprint to Packaging & Pricing for Growth Course at https://www.championsofvalue.com, Use the DISCOUNT CODE: ‘EARLYBIRD’, valid until October 31st, 2019.
00:46 – Natalie’s path into pricing
01:52 – Her big AHA moment at the PMM Summit, pricing’s trend in relation to product marketing
03:46 – Accelerate Your Subscription Business: Your Blueprint to Packaging & Pricing for Growth Course’s impact, the outcome on the actual on the pricing session that she did at the PMM Summit event
05:04 – Account-based marketing, what is this all about in relation to product management
08:37 – Looking at all the different personas inside an account, why you should dig deeper into it
09:54 – Creating conversations whose role is it, sales or marketing, or both?
10:16 – Keeping an eye on what’s happening on accounts and how people are interacting with the different digital and in-person touchpoints
11:31 – Personalizing content for your target market as a sample of account-based marketing making sure that the content you create is based on the company that you’re going after, and the actual people that are in the market
16:12 – Account-based marketing going hand in hand with pricing strategy
16:44 – What Portfolio Marketing is all about, tracking buyer personas to make sure that you know, there are results that have a good impact on the business
18:51 – Watching potential customers or buyers touchpoints – what do they care about, what kind of solutions should you be presenting to them or what should you be talking to them about
19:53 – Cross-functional coordination, why is this important, how daily stand-ups help your team strategize to win deals
22:00 – Product Marketing and sales enablement
22:31 – Natalie’s one piece of pricing advice that she thought could have a big impact on people’s business?
“I see a lot of product marketers now focusing on pricing, on the packaging, on revenue much more, because now marketing can influence every revenue bucket.” – Natalie Louie
“Ideal portfolio marketing is not just one group or one team it’s everybody working together, being on the same page to make sure that we’re giving the customer what they want.” – Natalie Louie
“What we do is we bring in people from different cross-functional groups to come into our meetings and tell us what’s happening. And so the more alignment there is, we find that the better we are able to react and deliver what our customers want.” – Natalie Louie
Links and Resources Mentioned:
- PMM Summit San Francisco
- Ep9: Natalie Louie – Product Marketing and Pricing Expert
- Product Marketing Alliance
- Pragmatic Marketing
Connect with Natalie Louie
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.)
Natalie Louie: The trend is that marketing actually has a seat at the revenue table. Because with things like marketing automation, where we can impact top of the funnel leads coming in, we now have a direct lever that impacts revenue.
Mark Stiving: Welcome to Impact Pricing, the podcast where we discuss pricing value and the recurring relationship between them.
Mark Stiving: Wow. I was just sitting here thinking to myself, that’s especially important because of the topic we’re going to be talking about today and our guest. I’m Marks Stiving, today our guest is Natalie Louie.
Mark Stiving: Here are three things you want to know about Natalie before we start, she was our guest on Episode 9. And she is our very first repeat guest. I was so impressed with her background as we did that first podcast. I hired her as an advisor for Impact Pricing. And she’s helped me develop the subscription pricing courses. Amazing. The reason I was so impressive she was head of Oracle Marketing Cloud pricing operations, a subscription-based business at Oracle and was involved in, let’s say, 40ish acquisitions. In terms of pricing aspects. Oh, one last thing about Natalie. She talks fast and brilliance flies out of her mouth. So buckle up and get ready for a fun ride. Welcome, Natalie.
Natalie Louie: Thank you, Mark. With that being said, I’m going to try to talk slower, everyone can understand me.
Mark Stiving: It’s so much fun to listen to you go. You recently gave a presentation at the PMM summit. Yeah, did you? You told me about a big aha and I just wanted to share that with the audience.
Natalie Louie: Yes. So the Product Marketing Alliance are doing Product Marketing summit around the world, bringing product marketers together and talk about best practices, trends we see in the industry, topics to help up-level our teams in our careers. And they asked me to do a pricing session. And so during the pricing session, I had asked a question to the audience about 600 product marketers here in the Bay Area. And I said, ‘How many of you guys own pricing or touch pricing?’ And I thought it was going to be maybe 10- 20% of the room, I would say almost half the room actually raised their hand.
And I was surprised to see how many people in Product Marketing are actually touching pricing, their own pricing, they’re trying to find out more about it. Someone else commented that you know, if you asked that same question a few years ago, you will not have seen as many hands up.
So there’s definitely a trend. Pricing is starting to move under Product Marketing, you know, not just product management, not just the finance team anymore.
Mark Stiving: What do you think that is?
Natalie Louie: I think because if you look at marketing as a whole, marketing teams are also changing how they do business. There’s more software out there. There’s more data, there’s more rigor. It’s all about understanding the data, and the insights to drive different decisions across the entire organization. And for the first or not for the first time, but the trend is that marketing actually has a seat at the revenue table. Because with things like marketing automation, where we can impact top of the funnel leads coming in, we now have a direct lever that impacts revenue. And the more that marketers can bring in revenue and can actually be tied to a revenue goal, the more pricing becomes a part of that conversation and value because it’s all tied together.
Mark Stiving: I find it’s almost always about value. I’m going to steal you for a little mini advertisement for a second, and that at that conference, you also did a workshop where you essentially presented or delivered the Accelerate Your Subscription Business course. How was that accepted?
Natalie Louie: Yeah, it was accepted really well. It was something that the organizers asked me if I wanted to do that. There was so much interest in pricing. They did their first conference in New York, they didn’t have any pricing sessions. And so when they involve me with their San Francisco conference I said, ‘What were the holes? I can fill in any product marketing hole you want.’ And they said feedback is people want more on pricing and packaging. So that’s why I offered to do the main session. And then they said that they had an opportunity to do a workshop that they think that people would come in sign up for, you know, a half a day, a three-hour workshop to really dig into pricing and packaging more.
Natalie Louie: So yes, I offered on behalf of Impact Pricing to go and deliver that course. And people loved it. It was a three-hour course. We did a lot of different examples, we did an entire workshop around it some education. And there’s a lot of engagement with everybody. They’re talking about the pricing problems they’re trying to solve. A lot of companies pivoting to a subscription business, or companies trying to really grow their subscription business or solve unique problems. So that group thinks in collaboration. It was fun.
Mark Stiving: I just wish I could have been in the room watching you do this, that would have been a hoot.
Natalie Louie: You’re present. You’re there in spirit.
Mark Stiving: So the other thing you said you learned at the PMM conference is there was a lot of talk about Account-Based Marketing as though that’s coming up big. What do you think about that?
Natalie Louie: Yes. So I’m starting to see this on the ground, just being at different companies talking to different product marketers, you know, there’s always kind of changes whether you have sales execution issue, whether people are changing the way they’re doing business and how they’re buying.
Natalie Louie: And one thing that keeps coming up is Account-based marketing. This idea that marketers no longer just look at leads and they look at one person, you have to look at the entire account because if you look at your sales counterparts, they’re always looking at an account. So they go into their Salesforce or their CRM, they’re always looking how do you work an account? How do you multi-thread across different buyers that are making that decision?
Natalie Louie: You know, they say on average, 10 to 15 different people are making that buying decision when a company invests in new software and in my rules when we’ve purchased software, I would say that number is spot on. You’re involving people from your finance team, your CFO to approve it, your sales folks who are going to either be the users or your marketing team. Then there are people using it, that people didn’t receive the insights and the report. So a lot of people really come in and make a decision when they buy new software for any company.
Natalie Louie: So it’s how do you look at them as an entire account versus one lead? Because one lead is only one-tenth or one-fifteenth of that entire account. And so you want to be able to have a personalized message to every single person. That’s part of the decision making the process.
Mark Stiving: Let’s try to understand that a little bit more for a second. Back when I was teaching with Pragmatic a lot, we would always use the phrase n=1 versus n=many. And n=1 to us meant that a salesperson was talking to a company. And n=many meant marketing people put together programs or initiatives so that we can go talk to a lot of different companies at the same time, account-based marketing feels like it’s n equals one activity, almost like you’re part of the sales team. Is that accurate? And how do we call that marketing? Why don’t we just call that sale?
Natalie Louie: Yeah, that’s a nice way to frame it. and it is saying that marketing traditionally, I mean, that’s what they do best, right? They’re great at talking to many people at scale. And traditionally, marketing focuses, especially on the demand generation side on MQLs, which is marketing, qualified leads, sets, top of the funnel marketing brings marketing qualified leads for demand Gen through events, they take those leads and hand them over to sales. And then sales then go and say it’s part of a bigger account that they’re working. And they’re trying to see which leads marketing is talking to, and so you’re looking at many, but then you’re passing one to sales, who are now looking at many, right or they’re looking at one account.
Natalie Louie: So now it’s saying marketing sales need to be more in line to say, marketing, let’s look at the entire account. Let’s look at the entire funnel. What are all these people within these accounts doing at the top of the funnel, middle of the funnel or bottom of the funnel, and really going aligned with sales and really focus on accounts? Because all the different people there are doing different things and have different influences on the deal?
Mark Stiving: Okay, in a lot of ways. I think this makes sense, but I still want to make sure I understand it well. So I’ve done my marketing job, I get a lead, Bob at IBM, that’s his email address bob@ibm. com, right? And it turns out that he’s this really awesome lead, we want to go after that it’s an MQL, we drop it into the funnel, sales look at it qualifies it and says, Oh, my gosh, it looks like IBM is hot, they’re shopping, we should do something. And now what we’re saying is, the marketing department should get involved to customize the messaging to customize the approaches for all of the different personas inside IBM. Is that what I’m hearing you say?
Natalie Louie: So it’s looking at all the different personas inside the account, but also deciding if you’ve got, let’s say, 1000 accounts that you’re working, we shouldn’t be working all thousand accounts marketing, because the traditionally that’s what marketing did, they worked all of the accounts inside your CRM. Instead, it’s let’s figure out what your ideal customer profile. So there’s 1000 Let’s start with just 10. Who are the 10 that we know are ideal customers that are in the market right now? And let’s pick up all those signals and work those accounts first and work everybody within that account.
Natalie Louie: So it’s this more strategic, where it’s not more, it’s actually more quality but less. Because if you look at what marketing did before, it was always more marketing qualified leads, do more, the more you put in through the funnel, the more that you will hopefully sell.
Natalie Louie: But now more doesn’t necessarily mean more deals. It’s just more noise. And so now marketers are starting to focus on who are the accounts that we should cherry-pick first, based on ideal customer profile? And are they looking for something? And marketing’s great at picking up those signals? And now let’s just focus on those. So it’s more quality or quantity?
Mark Stiving: Trust me, I’m still confused. Natalie. Are we talking about one customer at a time? Are we talking about 10 customers at a time?
Natalie Louie: We’re talking about one company, but many people within that company at a time. So it’s one company many people
Mark Stiving: And so why not sales? Why don’t we let sales do this? Why should marketing do this?
Natalie Louie: Well, sales is already working the accounts and having that one on one conversations and trying to talk to them. But marketing, they’re putting out the blogs. They’re putting out the webinars, they’re working on the website, they’re doing all the different field events, they have wider reach and breath. And they’re doing all the social assets.
Natalie Louie: And so marketing can actually keep an eye on what’s happening at all these accounts and how people are interacting with the different digital touchpoints, or the in-person touchpoints. If marketing is out there doing some kind of breakfast, or they’re at our conference, they’ve got a booth somewhere, you know, they’re collecting those leads, they can tell when to let’s save IBM is one of our ideal customers actually shows up at our booth at an event. Okay, that’s a signal right there. They’re in the market. If IBM maybe the CFO at IBM now is joining our webinar, or a user in the marketing team is actually going and reading our blog, all those different signals, we can now go and map it and tell sales, ‘Here are the different people that are interacting with the assets that we’ve put up there. You know, go talk to them. We know they’re in the market this is the content they looked at. We think this is a deal that we can probably likely close in this quarter.’
Mark Stiving: Oh, it’s nice. So as marketing, you have visibility into all the touchpoints that people have when they come to touch us as a company. And so that gives us great insight. And then the other thing that hit me as you were talking is, I could write content intentionally because I think people at IBM want to hear this piece of content. Whatever IBM strategy is, or IBM’s goals are, ‘oh, I want I want to write a piece of content to go address that.’
Natalie Louie: Yes. And we can personalize that content. So we know that IBM is in marketing, we’ve picked a lot up a lot of signals. We cannot personalize that content for the different people within IBM. And depending on who that persona is, and at what point they’re touching one of our marketing assets. We cannot make sure that we’re telling a story and we’re personalizing all the messaging to that individual person.
Mark Stiving: Nice. And now that I’m starting to think this way, and you’re causing me to think this way, I remember a company who took a billboard up outside a potential customer’s office, just because they wanted to win that customer. Would you consider that an example of account-based marketing?
Natalie Louie: Absolutely. So account-based marketing. And that’s a great example is making sure that based on the companies that you’re going after, and the actual people that are in the market, you’re doing online and offline tactics. And it’s interesting, in a world where everything is digital, it’s almost like we’ve over-indexed on digital. And there’s so much that a lot of offline tactics are starting to work.
Natalie Louie: You know, that individual that you’re trying to talk to maybe like baseball games, so you do some kind of a gifting campaign offline, and you send the ticket to a baseball game, or you’re doing an event at a baseball game, and you invite them to come and meet with the company.
Natalie Louie: And so it’s really taking that online and offline experience and personalizing and targeting it to that one person that you’re trying to get their the attention of. And so all of that is now fair game.
Mark Stiving: It just adds more confusion to the story, but I can see how valuable that could be if it’s a big enough important enough client to put lots of resources by trying to win that customer.
Natalie Louie: Yeah. And it’s proven that customers and companies that actually take this account-based marketing approach are able to grow more with their enterprise customers, and really increase that lifetime value.
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Mark Stiving: The other thing that just struck me on Account-Based marketing then is if I’m dealing with a subscription type, I’m a subscription type company, I’m selling a subscription, and I have an account that I know should be doing 10 x what they’re doing with me But there are customer today, now we can start using account-based marketing techniques to try to get them to grow with us.
Natalie Louie: Yes. And so now marketers, instead of just focusing on the top of the funnel, they’re starting to focus on the middle of the funnel, bottom of the funnel. Because before marketing carries on, okay, we got the lead, pass it over to sales, we close the customer. Now let’s go find that net new lead and really just increase the win rates.
Natalie Louie: Now it’s focusing on how do we increase expansion revenue? How do we increase retention? And so how do marketers go and start focusing on the middle to the bottom of the funnel, and start cross-selling them into more products? That’s where a lot of these different tools are moving towards. And this is where marketers trying to focus on their efforts as well.
Mark Stiving: Okay, I feel like a complete idiot all of a sudden. So we created a course I did this course what we said was there are three types of revenue buckets, there’s acquisition, retention, and expansion. We say most companies don’t pay enough attention to expansion and didn’t tie the fact that account-based marketing is really just a great way to go get expansion from a larger group of customers instead of one customer at a time. Oh my gosh.
Natalie Louie: Yeah, the whole account-based marketing goes hand in hand with pricing strategy. And that’s why I see a lot of product marketers now focusing on pricing, on the packaging, on revenue much more, because now marketing can influence every revenue bucket, where, you know, everything we talked about in terms of pricing is we’re focusing on every revenue bucket. So things are really aligning now for the first time.
Mark Stiving: Nice. So another trend that you said that you were seeing is Portfolio Marketing. Well, first off, what does that mean? And then we’ll dig into some more about it.
Natalie Louie: Yeah, so Portfolio Marketing, there’s a lot of overlap here. I’m seeing the company’s marketing ideas, being more audience-centric, and looking at your buyers and their needs and their preferences, and being able to kind of like measure and track your personas to make sure that you know, there are results that have a good impact on the business.
Natalie Louie: So the whole idea is not leading with your product and selling with your solution and the product, but focusing on your personas and the people buying it. What do they want, what do they need and having that deep understanding and then selling to them? And so I see a lot of overlap with this idea of account-based marketing where, yes, you’re focused on certain accounts. But then you focused on who are those personas at your ideal accounts? And what did they need? What do they want? What do they care about? And so kind of this whole idea of portfolio marketing and being more audience-centric, you know, has a lot of overlap with account-based marketing. So a lot of trends going in the same direction.
Mark Stiving: Yeah, that feels a lot like value selling or solution selling, where salespeople who are doing their job, well aren’t out pitching a product, but rather they’re trying to find the problems or the pain inside a potential customer. And then they’re trying to find the solution that hopefully, we offer for that customer. Is portfolio marketing different than that?
Natalie Louie: Yeah, it’s all the same content. of a lot of different software, they solve so many problems. And you look at some of these big companies like Salesforce Oracle these solve so many problems. But the idea here is what is that one person cares about? And let’s start with that. And let’s message that to say, Okay, here’s a problem that you’re in the market for something that you’re trying to solve. And it’s interesting. So account-based marketing does the same thing.
Natalie Louie: A person may tell you, this is the problem that they’re trying to solve in a sales call. But then you go look and see what they’re doing online. And they’re coming to a piece of content on your website about a different topic. And then you go and you follow up with them on that topic. And then you can win a deal, because they actually care about something else, but didn’t quite tell you. And so the idea is really getting into what does that one person care about? What do they tell you? But also what are they not telling you? And then making sure that we’re addressing that one issue versus all the issues that we can solve for them.
Mark Stiving: It almost sounds like what you’re saying is let’s watch the touchpoints. So when potential customers or buyers touch our digital marketing, and whatever they do, we’re watching all those touchpoints. And from that we’re inferring, what do they care about? And what kind of solutions should we presenting to them or what should we be talking to them about.
Natalie Louie: Yes, exactly. And when you do it this way, now it requires everybody in an organization to work together. So if you got, you know, a solutions team or an industry team, you’ve got your marketing team, you’ve got your sales team, your product, is how do you guys all work together now, I think that’s ideal portfolio marketing is it’s not just one group or one team it’s everybody working together, being on the same page to make sure that we’re giving the customer what they want. People no longer working in a silo but being forced to now work better as cross-functional partners.
Mark Stiving: Oh, so this is a bigger issue. And we have bigger companies that have multiple products and every product manager or product marketer has their own silo their own products they’re dealing with, and now we have to somehow find ways to coordinate amongst each other,
Natalie Louie: More coordination to make sure we give one customer what they want. So it’s more work on our side. You know, people are working on the software side.
Mark Stiving: What techniques would companies have to do that because it feels really hard for me to coordinate.
Natalie Louie: And so there are new tools out there a lot of different tools and the ABM account-based marketing space that allows people to have insights, and cross collaborate between sales and marketing, or you have like industry solution teams, a lot of people are doing whether you call them daily stand-ups, working meetings, you know, I’ve been seeing this happens a lot. The organizations that I work at is a lot of cross-functional partners meet on a daily or every other day basis, we’re talking about strategies together, we’re sharing ideas, we’re bringing up different signals that we’re capturing. So it’s those daily stand-ups, and using tools where all of us are in the same tool, able to see the same information or getting the right reports to share with our cross-functional partners. So a lot of alignment.
Mark Stiving: Are these daily stand-ups, 15 minutes and everybody’s really standing and we get in and get out?
Natalie Louie: It’s funny, some people actually do like they literally stand around the table, and they talk about it. I’ve seen people talk about this across different industries. So that’s I think where the idea came from was people are literally standing up across the table there quickly going around the room getting everybody on the same page, or can be sitting down, it can be 10,15, 20 minutes, it can be an hour, depending on how big your company is.
Natalie Louie: I’ve noticed that some bigger companies will have one representative from each group meet together and they work those accounts. Whereas, smaller companies maybe everybody’s working all the accounts. And so we as a team will meet together, obviously, the fewer people to have to meet, the easier it is to do this just to realign. And information travels so fast nowadays, you have to pivot and make such quick decisions that having those daily stand-ups, you know, every other day, you can actually share information quickly and then act upon it right away.
Mark Stiving: Nice. I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but the first I ever heard of daily stand up was in Agile or Scrum processes for product development. And I know that product marketers would get involved in those are product owners certainly were involved in those. And I’m not sure how often Product Marketing gets involved in those. So you may not have seen those.
Natalie Louie: I would say in the product marketing is I’ve been in we started doing that with Product Marketing was sales enablement. And then what we do is we bring in people from different cross-functional groups to come into our meetings and tell us what’s happening. And so the more alignment there is, we find that the better we are able to react and deliver what our customers want.
Mark Stiving: Nice. Okay, Natalie, I did not go back and re-listen to Episode 9. So I don’t know how you answered this question last time. But I’m going to ask it and hope you give a different answer this time.
Mark Stiving: What’s the one piece of pricing advice you would give our listeners that you think could have a big impact on their business?
Natalie Louie: The pricing advice is – anyone that owns pricing or doesn’t own pricing I would take your course you’ve just put it on it go take that course go to championsofvalue.com. Take that course because I believe it gives a really good framework for pricing. I’ve actually given… because I help you build that coursework. I’ve given it to my entire team. I’ve taught them about the fundamentals of pricing. And it’s made them all better product marketers, marketers in general, because once you understand the revenue buckets, as you’re making different marketing decisions, or looking at different marketing tools, how that aligns with how you can help grow your business and grow profitability. So that’s my piece of advice.
Mark Stiving: I did not prompt her to do that, everybody, but I’m so grateful. And Natalie, I’ll send you a check.
Natalie Louie: You did not prompt me that actually came top of mind at the moment.
Mark Stiving: So Natalie, thank you so much for your time today. If anyone wants to contact you, how can they do that?
Natalie Louie: You can contact me on LinkedIn, Natalie Louie, on LinkedIn, and I’m happy to connect that way.
Mark Stiving: Okay. And we’ll have the link in the show notes as well so people can find it easily.
Mark Stiving: Alright, Episode 41 is all done. My favorite part of today’s podcast, realizing that I’m a total idiot when I was trying to understand Account-Based Marketing. So what was your favorite part? Please let us know in the comments or wherever you download and listen, while you’re at it. Would you please give us a five-star review? We take these very seriously would be very appreciative. If you have any questions or comments about today’s podcast or pricing in general, feel free to email me mark@impactpricing. com. Now go make an impact.
**Note: Mark Stiving has an active LinkedIn community, where he participates in conversations and answers questions. Each week, he creates a blog post for the top question. If you have a question, head over to LinkedIn to communicate directly with Mark.
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.