August 17

Casey Brown a “Pricing Geek” on Boosting Profitability


Casey Brown, President, Boost Profits - During her career, Casey Brown has established a stellar reputation as both a pricing geek with a passion to see people paid well for their excellence and as a professional speaker, presenting at conferences, trade associations, and networking groups around the world.

Her 2015 TEDx talk has accumulated over 4M views to date.  As President of Boost Profits she leads a group of consultants who help companies sell more, with higher prices to increase profit. 

[Podcast Transcript Using Artificial Intelligence]

Umar Hameed 0:01
Are you ready to become awesomer? Hello everyone. My name is Umar Hameed, I'm your host on the No Limits Selling Podcast where industry leaders share their tips, strategies, and advice on how you can become better, stronger, faster. Just before we get started, I've got a question for you. Do you have a negative voice inside your head? We all do, right? I'm gonna help you remove that voice and under 30 days guaranteed not only remove it but transform it. So instead of the voice that sabotages you, there's one that propels you too much higher levels of performance and success. There's a link in the show notes. Click on it to find out more. All right, let's get started.

Umar Hameed 0:40
Hello, everyone. Today, I'm privileged to have Casey Brown joining me here today. And she is the co-founder of the psychology of selling value. And the thing that really intrigues me about that is value is in the eyes of the beholder, and oftentimes, us as a preventers, we see less value in what we offer. Casey, this can be a great conversation. Welcome to the program.

Casey Brown 1:02
Thanks so much. I'm pleased to be here.

Umar Hameed 1:04
You know, in one of my early episodes, on this podcast, I was interviewing a gentleman by the name of Carl Sar. And he's a sculptor. And he was telling me a story about being at this art show. And he's got this beautiful metal sculpture. And this guy comes over and says, How much is that? and Carl goes, that's $15,000. And the guy says, $15,000, and Carl is thinking, Oh, my God, I brick this sale, I'm charging too much. I should like give a discount when the guy actually was thinking of this is a freaking bargain. This is such an awesome piece. And luckily, he kept his mouth shut and made the sale rather than discount the price. But so Casey, tell me, what are you seeing out there?

Casey Brown 1:42
Well, this podcast is not long enough for me to tell you all the stories I have that mirror that one. Exactly. And it's through really every aspect of of commerce through B2C, B2B, and B2G non-profits, I have stories just like that, where we, as the sellers are more price sensitive on behalf of the buyer than the buyer is we doubt our own value. And, and the buyer gives us all kinds of signals. And sometimes it's just a pause as the story you just told, and sometimes it's it's negotiation tactics. But in any case, we are often the most price sensitive person in the conversation, not the customer.

Umar Hameed 2:20
Absolutely. It turns out that you know, our beliefs around money on our relationship around money determines how we see the world, and how we show up in the world. Like oftentimes, in a workshop, I will ask people, you know, I'm gonna suggest what your annual income should be. And I start low, and I work up higher and higher and higher. And then I ask people, you know, what did it feel like? Or any thoughts that came up when I said things that were lower than what you earn right now. And some people go, you know, how dare you and some people like God, that's not me, and they just dismiss it or get angry about it. And then when I get to kind of what they're earning, what I hear most often is, that's okay, I feel comfortable, that's a comfortable comfort zone around money. And then when it gets slightly higher, they feel excited and motivated, like, Oh, my God, this is going to be amazing. And then when they get a lot higher than they're used to, then they tell me, I was thinking, you know, if I'm earning that amount of money, I'll be working all the time, my kids will turn to drugs, my wife will leave me and all the stories we tell ourselves. So how does our belief around money and self worth impact how we ask for value for the things we offer?

Casey Brown 3:25
Well, you hit the nail on the head, I think there's a lot of internal beliefs that really show up in how we sell value and how we price. It has a lot of effect. And I think that when we sell whatever we're selling goods or services, it starts to really show up as affecting what we believe about our self worth. And sometimes in you, in your story you're talking about when we got the value significantly over what we're earning today, they're started to come in some real discomfort. And I think for some folks asking for a lot, there, it triggers a bit of an imposter syndrome, Oh, my gosh, they're gonna find out I'm really not that good. I'm just, you know, this, this poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks I can't, you know, I can't possibly ask for that are, you know, these numbers that feel shockingly large to us, given how we grew up, or what we know ourselves to be on the inside, when we have self worth issues really start to get triggered. And so this is where pricing ostensively on the surface is a pretty mechanical exchange of value, but is really tied to some really deeper issues about mindset, and about self, self worth and deep beliefs deeply held beliefs about who we are.

Umar Hameed 4:43
So why don't you give us so we can actually put this into some kind of perspective of a client that you were working where you can change the name to protect the innocent, but this is what the situation was, this is what they thought the value was. And this is how I help them and this is what the value became. So give me one of those and I'm gonna ask deeper questions. About that client to get a deeper understanding of the issue. So be prepared.

Casey Brown 5:04
Trying to choose wisely here.

Umar Hameed 5:06
What's that?

Casey Brown 5:06
I want to choose wisely. Choose the client wisely. Okay, so I worked with a small organization, it was just two members of the of the company, and they were educational consultants. They worked with schools, it was a very much a mission driven organization. So it's a for profit organization. But they very much believed in helping schools and they wanted to support those schools and becoming better at educational performance. And there were a lot of issues around this. So one was that their customers had fixed budgets, finite budgets, didn't have necessarily a budget for educational consultants. And so that was an issue. But another thing was that they were so driven by their mission that sometimes they had, what I call head trash around really charging what they're worth, because they wanted to help everyone. And so putting an appropriately high price tag on the value that they created, was this uncomfortable for them, because they felt like it was greedy, are gouging to charge a fair price for the value that they created?

Umar Hameed 6:15
And so what were they charging? And how did you help them to really determine the true value.

Casey Brown 6:23
So they had a fixed fee pricing model. That was that was variable, depending on the size of the school district, and depending on the size of the scope of the project. And so that's a little complicated to answer simply. And in the model itself, the structure of the pricing itself wasn't problematic, but the numbers were way too low, they were working themselves to the bone, they were working 70-80-90 hours a week, and they weren't really making enough money for the value that they were creating. And so how I helped them was less around figuring out what the numbers should be, although we did get there, where we really had to start was dealing with a mindset around, you're creating a tremendous amount of value for these school districts, you're helping them achieve their goals, it is fair and appropriate to charge for that it. And furthermore, as an organization, if you aren't charging fairly for this, then this robs your ability to serve these organizations in the future. So it isn't gouging it is ingredie isn't taking advantage of anyone. So it was really the biggest obstacle for them wasn't knowing what number to put on a proposal, it was dealing with their own internal story around fairness, and around mission, the mission of their work and how to how to connect those dots.

Umar Hameed 7:46
So how did you get them to change their mindset?

Casey Brown 7:50
Through a series of meetings and work and uncovering and asking questions and, and sharing some of the kinds of things we're talking about now, but in in a deeper way, and over more time. So just just a little bit more about that more that they didn't, they didn't know what they believed about that. It was hidden.

Umar Hameed 8:10
Absolutely. It's unclear to them, what's going on inside us we can see clearly in other people, but it's really hard to see in ourselves. And you know, that's why God invented spouses because they hold up the mirror very, very easily.

Casey Brown 8:22
His two teenage kids. Yeah, they were not clear about their own beliefs about pricing, and what what their stuff was worth. And their belief was and this I see a lot in clients, that pricing isn't in our hands that the market sets the price, we're just doing the best we can in the face of competitors and comfort and customers and, and that that's a market condition. And the reality is we as the sellers have a lot more power than we believe. If we have excellent products and services if we deliver excellence to our customers than we deserve to be paid like for excellent. And most often the biggest biggest obstacle to that is our own belief system stopping short and what we will and what we will charge reminds me of the Henry Ford quote, If you think you can or you think you can't, you're right. And and what I find with my clients is the biggest obstacle to charging more for the excellence they provide is not a better understanding of their financials or a market study or or you know, a deep dive into the customer value prop or anything. It's their own story about value about fairness, about worth about. It's a fear driven decision oftentimes.

Umar Hameed 9:35
So let me hold up a hypothesis. So are you familiar with Tony Robbins, I guess? Yes. Have you ever been to one of his events? I haven't. And they both called landmark and other programs like that that are designed to help you become better and all those amazing ways. So let's pick a Tony Robbins event. I've only been to one and I want to see you know, see him before he like dies or something and I would have like missed out so I went to see him in Chicago there was 17,000 people in the audience. For three or four days, and people were going nuts, and they were on fire literally walked on fire. But when you think about when people went back home, how quickly did they revert back to their old way of being and how many people were truly transformed. And I suspect the people that were truly transformed would have been a small number, the people that changed some things, but not everything would have been a larger number. And they would have been a significant number that basically went back to their normal lives and didn't change anything. Is that a fair statement?

Casey Brown 10:28
I yeah, I've never been to one of the events, but given other kinds of similar types of experiences, I think that's probably fair.

Umar Hameed 10:38
So when you talk about value to people, and you kind of let them realize, you know, hey, you're thinking this way, it's not helping. So how do you make the change go deeper? So it's not just like, okay, Casey, because sometimes it's like, Casey gave me permission to charge a higher price, as long as you get the higher price. That's all that matters. So the question I'm asking you is, do they truly get transformed all the time? Or sometimes is it that, you know, Casey's got my back and she's, I'm charging, because it's Casey's fault. Like it's almost sometimes we can look at one more example, or flip it over to you. I'm not sure if you've got a friend like this. But if they go to buy a car, they're going to be like Mika's lambs, and take whatever deals offered to them. But if they went as your buddy for you to buy a car, then they're like, frickin ferocious. And they're like, Oh, my God, you can't charge that much. So people that transform, is it because they use you as an excuse? Or do you think this true transformation happening?

Casey Brown 11:30
Well, look, I would love to tell you it's true transformation. 100% of the time, I'm I like to live in the real world, though. And I think that the reality is, it's probably a bit more like that Tony Robbins situation, that there are some people that, that see something brand new for for themselves in terms of the reality of their own limitations, and it changes the way they sell forever. And, and they're paid for value in a different way forever. And that those moments that that I experienced that, and the feedback I get about that is enough to keep me going forever. I think they're the middle pocket of folks that that it makes a difference some of the time. And that's also a very worthy reason to keep going. And then there are people where maybe on a somewhat temporal somewhat transactional basis, it makes a little bit of a difference, and then it may be dribbles away. That's a you know, as a person committed to transformation as I am, it's, it's somewhat disappointing to feel like I maybe could have made a bigger difference there. But it doesn't change my commitment. And absolutely, I think sometimes for for ways to improve, not only the message that I deliver, but how I deliver it, and working on new formats and new tools and new content to to do to make what I do not a one and done but something that reinforces and drives change on a more profound and, and substantial and long term basis.

Umar Hameed 13:04
Absolutely. You know, I'm a firm believer in useful lies. And I really believe everything I know, is a model. And that by definition is is not the truth. And as you I'm learning all the time to kind of tweak the model to make it better. But if for some unknown reason, I convinced you that you couldn't fail in this next meeting. And you truly happened to be a really good hypnotist, Look into my eyes. But if you went there, and you got the result you wanted, who cares whether it was true or not. And as you help people charge the right amount, if they use you as a talisman, like I'm doing this, because Casey says, that's all that matters is they get the change that they want. And so let's kind of dig in deeper to how do we how do we see value? Like, do you have like a metaphor for seeing value that you might use inside your head to see the true value of something?

Casey Brown 13:55
Can you ask that question in a slightly different way, so I understand what you're getting for?

Umar Hameed 13:59
Sure. Like some people are obsessed with baseball, you may know a couple of them. And they know every single stat that was ever invented for baseball. And if they're in let's say, a regular business situation, and you ask them to charge this value for this, they might go well, you know, the market and the competition, and dah dah dah, dah and they'll justify whatever they believe. But if you knew they were obsessed with baseball, you could go, you know, this particular player was traded for this amount of money. That just doesn't make any sense to me. And they would say, Casey, you do not understand this person is a God and he's amazing. All of a sudden, they'll realize that they see value in baseball, but they have a different set of rules when they look at business and sometimes seeing the dissonance between the two gives them insights Oh my god, it's all a mindset thing. So what example do you give to get people to understand that?

Casey Brown 14:53
Well, I love the question and now that I understand what's behind it, it's it's it's really ring true for me. Like you, I think a useful lie is is or better said, I love metaphors. I use them all the time in my workshops, I love games, I love taking people out of their specific daily life, I sell industrial lubricants, I sell it services, I said, I don't care what you sell. That isn't really, we're not going to solve this by diving into what you sell. Let's take a step back. And so to answer your questions, very specifically, there are a couple of things we do in the workshop that really have a lightbulb moment go off for people that are metaphors. One is that we play a game of prices right game, where I have people with these Question and Answer kind of polling devices answer the price about a whole bunch of different items. And they get some, right, they get some wrong, and there's a lot of laughing. And there's some jokes that we tell about it. And it's a lot of fun. Everyone knows the price of certain items. And an example would be gasoline, pretty within, you know, a couple of pennies. And it's because folks are driving a lot, they're filling up once or twice a week, everyone knows the price of that there's some other prices, they have absolutely no idea. And it's because they never buy those products hardly ever, if they need them once every four years, they throw it in the cart, and they don't know if it cost 90 cents or $3.90. And the idea is and you know, that's tennis balls or hot sauce or salt. The idea is that every business has gasoline and salt, and their business and their corporate products and services. And we go through this discussion with the problem is we're so close to our businesses, we can't tell the difference between the gasoline and the salt, but our customers have no idea. Throw it in the cart move on. And this is one of these moments where in the workshop people start furiously writing down, you know, their their salt in their business, they've just been extrapolating the price sensitivity of the gasoline to the salt. They they think everybody's watching everything like a hawk, but they're not they're watching the gasoline, they're not watching the salt. So there's a lot of unexercised pricing power in the fringes of our business. And that's just one metaphor. Another one is, you know, we we've got, you know, where are you priced? like a like a, like a, you know, where are you priced like a jaros. But you're the Lexus of your industry, or maybe just the premium package against the base package. Anywhere we have even a slight premium offering, we want to make sure extracting a premium price for it.

Umar Hameed 17:24
Nice. So if there was one piece of advice you'd give people to reevaluate the value of their offering, what would be a couple of questions, they need to ask themselves to make sure they're at the right level?

Casey Brown 17:37
What problem do you solve for your customers, what problems they face that you uniquely solve? in a different way. And it may be that your your product or service is different. It may be how you sell or serve it that's different. It may be that you're you're faster, you get better service, you're. So it's really diving into value, specifically for the customers that you serve. And I think this has got to be really tailored because customer A is different than customer B is different than customer C, it's really diving deeply into really understanding your differentiation. And if you're even a fraction of a centimeter better than the other guy, then why wouldn't you charge a little bit more. And one of the pitfalls I see because I work with a lot of best in class and veteran class companies is that they are already at a price premium. And they tell me that I'm already charging more, I'm already the most expensive. Well, great. Are you more expensive enough? Where are you? Why are you limiting the premium that you're earning? I wouldn't, I would inspect why you believe you are able to charge more. And I would encourage companies to go in a in a risk mitigated way to charge more for what they're already selling.

Umar Hameed 19:00
Brilliant. Casey, thanks so much for sitting down with me today. I really appreciate it. It was a great conversation, and I got a lot of value out of it.

Casey Brown 19:09
Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure to be with you.

Umar Hameed 19:16
If you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave a five-star rating. And if you're looking for more tools, go to my website at nolimitsselling.com. I've got a free mind training course there that's going to teach you some insights from the world of neuro-linguistic programming, and that is the fastest way to get better results.


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