Mark Stiving, Ph.D., MBA, is a widely recognized pricing expert and marketing pro who teaches companies how to boost revenues and realize their true value.
Theresa French is the Sales and Marketing Operations Manager at Impact Pricing.
Pricing has been a lifelong passion for Mark. As a child, he contemplated why companies always use 99 cent price endings, which led to the question, “Do companies think we’re stupid?“
He had a chance to study this question during his doctoral program at the University of California at Berkeley and hasn’t looked back since.
In this episode, Theresa and Mark talked about IP’s program called Guidance for Pricing Success(GPS), sharing everything you need to know about it, who this program for, what’s in it for you, and what solution this would ultimately provide to a company’s faster revenue growth.
Why you have to check out today’s podcast:
- Find out why companies should go for Guidance for Pricing Success(GPS) over hiring a pricing consultant
- Discover the ultimate value you can earn from the courses offered in Champions of Value
- Learn about the impact value conversation brings to your product, to your customer, and ultimately to your company’s profitability
“Every company I’ve ever talked with and I’ve ever worked with, they don’t understand what value really means.”
– Mark Stiving
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01:43 – Mark talks about a program he’s releasing called Guidance for Pricing Success (GPS)
02:58 – For whom is Guidance for Pricing Success(GPS)?
04:45 – Who can take the most advantage from The Champions of Value?
06:13 – Convincing reasons why you should go for GPS over hiring a consultant
08:20 – What company challenge is GPS creating a solution for?
09:55 – Strengthening the value conversation
11:51 – How to go about value conversations and how to have this conversation with a customer
13:09 – What’s in it for you in the courses Champions of Value offer and why you will get value way more than what you paid for the courses?
14:39 – Mark confessing his guilt in selling and helping you
“Everybody needs GPS. If there was anything I could convince people of, it’s, you need to go understand value, how your customers perceive your value. Most companies have at least realize they want to move away from cost-plus pricing, they want to do value-based pricing. And yet they don’t understand value.” – Mark Stiving
“Champions of value is really about helping people learn way more about pricing and the things they need to know. And at the same time coaching them to deal with internal politics, or how to have meetings or how to do change management.” – Mark Stiving
“The other thing for the champions of value is when we have smaller companies, companies that aren’t quite at the $50 million range. It’s pretty cost-effective if they send several people through the champions of value program, and then they can try to implement this themselves.” – Mark Stiving
“If you have somebody who understands value and puts themselves in the minds of the buyer, and we’ve really thought through this, well, then you’re much less likely to make those million-dollar mistakes.” – Mark Stiving
“CEOs have many different issues. Probably the one thing that they would say, ‘I’m not growing fast enough, I need faster revenue growth.’ And how do they go get faster revenue growth? Well, it turns out that probably what’s happening is the company has figured out how to deliver a lot of value to the marketplace, what they haven’t done is figured out how to capture that value.” – Mark Stiving
“Why wouldn’t you spend 100 bucks a month in order to get promoted in order to improve your career, and I don’t care who you are if you’re a pricing professional if you’re a product manager if you’re a product marketer if you’re in sales. If you understand value, the way your customers understand value, I guarantee you it will impact your career for the better.” – Mark Stiving
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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.)
Welcome to Impact Pricing, the podcast where we discuss pricing, value, and the two often mysterious relationship between them. I’m Theresa French, the better-looking version of the Mark Stivings of the world.
And I’m standing in for the guest of today’s podcast, which is the one and only Mark Stiving.
Here are three things you need to know about Mark before we start. As a child, he often wondered why companies use 99 cent price endings, asking himself, “Do companies think we’re stupid?” Mark received his PhD at the University of California, Berkeley, and went on to lead a massive change management effort, as well as coaching colleagues. Yes, he did a lot there. And on the implementation of value-based pricing, at a $2.5 billion semiconductor company known as Maxim Integrated, Mark’s impact led to well over 100 million in additional profit year after year.
The third thing you need to know about Mark, whether it’s on two wheels or flying as a pilot under two wings, or hiking with his four-legged friend, Jake, in the hills of Reno, Nevada, Mark loves adventure. And his biggest thrill of all is watching people experience the aha moments. Mark, welcome to the podcast today.
Thanks, Theresa. That sounded like a mouthful.
It was. But you’ve done a lot, we had to cover a lot of ground.
Okay, let’s get this thing going.
Super excited to talk about today, because we’ve got something we’re releasing that’s pretty exciting. Why don’t you tell us about it?
Impact Pricing on Helping Project Managers and Pricing Professionals Grow their Career
Well, we recently decided, or at least realized, that we have two different sides to our business. We’ve got a really clear side where we help Product Managers, Pricing Professionals, help them grow their careers. And we do all of that on our championsofvalue.com website, which people have heard me talk about a million times on the podcast. The thing that we’re really doing now is, we’ve created a set of products that target companies and how we help companies transform.
So, it’s, you know, in part we’re going to use the Champions of Value pieces to help educate people. But in a big piece of it, it’s us talking to, learning from, educating, and then helping them implement the concepts that we teach them about in pricing. Oh, by the way, we call this the GPS program for Guidance for Pricing Success. And like all good companies, we packaged it in a good, better, best program. And we call our good, better, best programs Product GPS, Team GPS, and Culture GPS.
The GPS programming
Love that. Let’s dive into that just a little bit. Let’s talk about the GPS side, who needs the GPS programming?
Well, the sad thing is everybody needs it. The funny thing is, every company I’ve ever talked with, I’ve ever worked with, they don’t understand what value really means. And if there was anything I could convince people of it’s you need to go understand value. How do your customers perceive your value? Most companies have at least realized they want to move away from Cost Plus Pricing, they want to do Value-based Pricing, and yet they don’t understand value.
They try to do something that’s different than Cost Plus, and I, you know, I honor them for that. That’s awesome. But in truth, what we really want is to understand how our customers value our products. And a big chunk of what we do is teaching companies what value means to their customers, how their customers think about the value of their products, and then maybe we can move that into pricing as we move beyond that. So, who needs it is that.
But in general, the types of companies that would hire us are probably companies in the, let’s say, between 50 million and a billion dollars. And the reason for that is 50 million, at that point it starts to get price effective for them. If you assume that we’re going to move the profit needle at least 1% of whatever the revenue is, a $50 million company that says, you know, it’s at least $500,000 in additional profit. It’s probably much more than that, but at least. And then once you get above a billion, those companies tend to have their own pricing teams. And although we could probably help them and teach them, my guess is they don’t really want our help.
Got it. Got it. And you mentioned the two sides of the business, we also talked about Champions of Value. Who is going to benefit the most from Champions of Value?
Who is going to benefit the most from Champions of Value?
I think there’s two key places or two key ways to think about the Champions of Value side.
First off, individuals, right. Anybody who wants to grow their career, wants to get promoted. When I think about, especially pricing professionals and how hard it is to be a pricing professional.
If you’re out there listening to me and you’re a pricing professional and have live your life, right, I know how much we know and how much influence we could have inside the company, and how much impact we could have in our company, if only we knew how to get that across.
Champions of Value is really about helping people learn way more about pricing and the things they need to know. And at the same time coaching them to deal with internal politics, or how to have meetings, or how to do change management.
And we do that with office hours that we do once a week. And I just talked to people who call in, we have conversations about how to go do the things that we teach in our classes.
The other thing for the Champions of Value is when we have smaller companies, companies that aren’t quite at the $50 million range, it’s pretty cost-effective if they send several people through the Champions of Value program, and then they can try to implement this themselves.
And again, come to office hours, ask questions, I’m going to help them with the implementation.
Fantastic. So, Mark, tell me, why would someone want a fractional pricing expert? You talked about GPS, and why would they want that over hiring a consultant who can do it for them?
Why would someone want a fractional pricing expert?
Well, I can think of about 20 reasons here, but let’s just do a couple of easy ones, if you may.
First off, I love consultants, they’re brilliant, tons of my friends, pricing friends are consultants. And they’re going to come in, look at your situation, run some studies, give you a recommendation, and you’re going to go implement the recommendation or not.
And odds are really good, if you implement it, you’re going to make profit. You’re going to increase your profit, and I love that. But what you didn’t do was change your team, you didn’t make it so the next time you could do this yourself. And it feels like you’re reliant on the consultant.
What I really want to do is I want to transform companies and careers. I want people to get better at understanding value and understanding how to do pricing so that you don’t need a consultant every time you want to go do a new project, or you want to look at something.
If you think about a company that’s going to launch a new product, you probably make hundreds of decisions as you decide, “Are we going to go launch this new product?” And what if we make one of those decisions, and it affects the success of the product, and it costs us millions of dollars.
If you have somebody who understands value and puts themselves in the minds of the buyer, and would really thought through this well, then you’re much less likely to make those million-dollar mistakes.
I think a fractional pricing expert, you know, if you had a full time and the resources have a full-time pricing expert, that person could be doing exactly that. They could be coaching your internal people on what is value look like and how to your buyers perceived value.
But most companies don’t have those resources or it’s not time to go hire a new pricing team yet. Having somebody, like me, come in and at least sit in the meetings and have some conversations and say, “Does this make sense and have you thought of it this way?” I’m never going to know your industry, your market, your products, your customers the way you do. What I do know is how to ask questions that you probably don’t know how to answer.
Got it. And if I were a CEO listening to this right now, what would be some of the challenges that I would be facing right now that this would be a perfect solution for?
Yeah. CEOs have many different issues, probably the one thing that they would say, “I’m not growing fast enough, I need faster revenue growth.” And how do they go get faster revenue growth? Well, it turns out that probably what’s happening is the company has figured out how to deliver a lot of value to the marketplace, can deliver tons of value to the customers, what they haven’t done is figured out how to capture that value. Or how to capture their fair share of that value.
And what we can do is, by helping not only the product managers but the product marketing people, the salespeople, understand what value truly means in the buyers’ perspective, it makes it so that we’re much more likely to be able to capture more of the value that we can deliver to our marketplace.
I would say CEOs probably understand that well if they stop and think about it, and you ask them the question, “Are you capturing your fair share of the value you deliver to the marketplace?” I would guess most CEOs would say, “No, we’re not capturing our share of that.” And that’s one of the things that we can do is help them and that obviously helps faster revenue growth.
Fantastic. So, product teams are pressed on projects, and they don’t feel like they have time sometimes to stop and learn something new. I mean, it’s the speed of business, right? So, let’s face it, you’ve got a product to get to market and what are the benefits that you would recommend for a team to maybe slow down a bit, go a bit deeper, dive into pricing, slow down to go faster? What advice do you have for them?
Yeah, I’m not sure we could slow down to go faster. What we could do is we could slow down to be successful. Because what ends up happening is, there are lots and lots of million-dollar mistakes that your company, I almost guarantee you that your company has made these mistakes in the past, and you’ve sat back and said, “Okay, so how do I not do that again?” Companies, we build products that nobody ever uses, or we build features that nobody ever uses. We just wasted millions of dollars building a feature people aren’t going to use.
We build a product that the market, it doesn’t resonate in the marketplace, we haven’t figured out how to talk about our product and so we can’t get the attention of our buyers. And why is that? Because we talk about our product, we’re not talking about the problems, or the value that we’re delivering into the marketplace. And our salespeople, they learn to go out and they spew the pitches that we’ve put together for them, and they can talk about our product for hours, but nobody cares about our product.
Strengthening the Value Conversation
What we have to do is we have to talk about the value that we’re delivering to our marketplace. And when salespeople are really good at understanding what types of value we can deliver; they can have something that’s called a value conversation. And a value conversation is simply when our salespeople work with our customers or potential buyers, and together they try to figure out how much value this product can deliver to that customer. Oh, my gosh, when you do that the buyer trusts you more, they think you’re looking out for them, you’ve helped them quantify their problems. There’re so many huge benefits. But if we don’t understand value, we can’t do our side of that.
Got it. And you mentioned earlier that, you know sometimes you’ll have questions that maybe a client might not know to ask. And I would imagine that same concept applies in this customer voice interview process. You have questions, you have insights to guide those conversations, to uncover that value more effectively. Would you agree with that?
Oh, absolutely. We have a, we haven’t released this course yet. But we have a course on the drawing board, specifically on value conversations and how to have this conversation with a customer. And it’s relatively straightforward that it starts out with something like, if you had a product like this, what kind of results would you expect? And they start giving us results or what problems will we solved, they start giving us problems. And then we ask them well, which of these is most important? And they tell us.
And then there’s a specific set of questions that you can go through to get to $1 value. This is especially true in a B2B situation. There’s a set of questions you can go through to get to $1 value of that specific result. And then you go back to the next most important results. And there’s probably 10 of these that really matter. You add up all that value, and you have no idea how much value you’re really delivering to the customer once we sit down and start quantifying it.
Wow, that sounds exciting. Now, you talked about the courses a little bit, what’s one of the best ways that someone who may be looking to develop their career, gain a little more influence in their teams and in their organizations, just really up level their game as a pricing professional. What’s the best way for them to engage with the Champions of Value, community, and coursework? What do you recommend? Where do they start?
What’s in it for You when you Become a ‘ Champion of Value’
Yeah. That one’s actually a really easy one. Because we’re pricing people, we price pretty well, I got to tell you. And so, we set the prices of all of our courses at $500. And that’s because these are great courses, you take one of these courses, you’re going to get way more than $500 worth of value out of it. But then we created a community we call The Insiders. And for only $100 a month, you have access to all of our courses. And you have access to…
All of them?
All of them. And you have access to office hours with me once a week to ask questions on implementation. And we put it together this way because that’s an absolute no brainer. Why wouldn’t you spend 100 bucks a month in order to get promoted, in order to improve your career? And I don’t care who you are, if you’re a pricing professional, if you’re a product manager, if you’re a product marketer, if you’re in sales, if you understand value the way your customers understand value, I guarantee you it will impact your career for the better.
I love it. Impact pricing for a reason.
That’s right, for a reason. And champions of value, doesn’t that make sense?
That’s right. So smart, Mark, you’re just one smart cookie, I tell you. Well, is there anything else mark you want to share with us before we close out today? I think this has been fantastic. I love the fact that there are two very distinct audiences that can benefit from the expertise that you have amassed over the last 20 plus years. And anything else you want to say before we close it out?
Yeah. Can I say that I’m always guilty selling? I feel guilty when we sell products. And so, I feel kind of guilty that we did this podcast. But I wanted everybody to know what we were doing so hopefully come engage with us. We love helping people.
Absolutely. And don’t forget the Champions of Value community is free, where you get opportunities to ask Mark questions. Get involved in the conversation, join the conversation. Of course, we have LinkedIn as well. We’re very active on LinkedIn. Leave a message, comment, we’re posting regularly. There are tons of ways that you can engaged with us that doesn’t require an investment, and you’ll still gain an immense amount of value. So, if you have any questions or comments about today’s podcast or about pricing, feel free to email Mark at [email protected]. Now, go make an impact.
Oh, that was close. Now…go make an impact.
Right. We’ll do it again. Edit. Now, go make an impact.
Nice. Love that.
Now, go make an impact.
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