226: Mastering the Art of Pricing: How to Charge What You’re Worth with Casey Brown

The Business of Meetings – Episode 226: Mastering the Art of Pricing: How to Charge What You’re Worth with Casey Brown

How do you determine the pricing for the services your business provides?

Today, we are thrilled to have Casey Brown, the Founder and President of Boost Pricing, joining us to shed light on that topic.

Casey, an accomplished entrepreneur and professional speaker in Corporate America, has delivered a TEDx talk viewed over 5 million times. Stay tuned as she shares her valuable insights on effective pricing strategies.

Journey from Corporate America to Entrepreneurship

Becoming an entrepreneur was not an obvious path for Casey. Growing up below the poverty line, she valued stability and sought a corporate job, starting her career at GE and then at Akzo Nobel. Initially enjoying her work in engineering due to her love for data and analytics, she later noticed organizational dysfunctions and misaligned goals, which led her to question her role and purpose within large corporations.

Frustration with Corporate Dynamics

As her career progressed, she became increasingly frustrated with the bureaucratic aspects of corporate America. That frustration and her observations on organizational behavior during her MBA led her to rethink her career. She realized she was working hard without feeling motivated or fulfilled, prompting her to consider other options.

Inspiration and Influence from Family

Her older brother, an engineer who started a company, influenced her entrepreneurial journey. His enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and the encouragement from other entrepreneurs sparked her interest.

Transition to Pricing Expertise

In her corporate roles, Casey transitioned from engineering to pricing, becoming deeply interested in pricing strategies within large companies. She saw an opportunity to apply her knowledge to smaller and mid-sized businesses, offering them insights on pricing excellence typically reserved for large corporations.

Entrepreneurial Challenges and Analytical Approach

Entrepreneurship is neither linear nor predictable, as it involves a winding path rather than a straight line to success. Despite the challenges, her analytical mindset and systematic approach helped Casey navigate the complexities of starting and running her own business.

Overcoming Fear and Embracing Uncertainty

The corporate environment became confining for Casey, pushing her to leap into entrepreneurship. She emphasizes the importance of understanding and mitigating specific fears to make informed decisions when taking risks.

Navigating Procurement and Value Perception

Addressing the challenges of selling services to corporate clients, particularly with procurement processes, Casey advises understanding the landscape and recognizing the importance of value beyond just transactional interactions. She likens pricing to a game of poker, where buyers and sellers bluff to hide their positions, highlighting the need to enter negotiations with confidence in your value and pricing power.

Learning to Walk Away from Bad Business

Not pursuing every business opportunity is essential, especially if it involves underpricing or unprofitable work, as involvement with bad business can drain organizational capacity and business resources, ultimately harming long-term growth and profitability.

Setting Prices and Maintaining Confidence

New businesses often make the mistake of underpricing their services due to fear and the need to secure early clients. Casey advises against this, highlighting the importance of recognizing your expertise and not undervaluing it.

The Price-Quality Effect

Casey introduces the price-quality effect, explaining that customers often infer quality from pricing. Underpricing can signal low quality, which can harm the reputation of a business and its perceived value in the marketplace. She advises business owners to stay true to their expertise, avoid taking on unprofitable work, and set prices that reflect the quality and value they deliver.

Surround Yourself with Givers

It is essential to surround yourself with people who have the experience you lack and are also givers. Casey highlights the value of peer groups and supportive communities in personal and professional growth.

Pricing Models in Service Businesses

Pricing should be easy to understand and sell and align with your provided value.

Simplicity and Customer Familiarity

Your pricing structures should be simple and familiar to your customers. Using the example of hourly billing in legal services, Casey explains that disruptive pricing models can work but must be easy for customers to understand and for the business to sell.

Avoiding Over-Transparency

Casey advises against providing too much detail in pricing proposals. She warns that excessive transparency can lead to decision fatigue for clients and give them leverage to negotiate lower prices unfairly.

Staying the Expert

She cautions against letting clients dictate terms that could undermine the service provider’s expertise.

Procurement and Detailed Pricing Requests

Sometimes, detailed pricing is required, especially by large organizations with rigid procurement processes. Casey suggests pushing back diplomatically when clients request detailed breakdowns to understand their needs better.

Transparency vs. Partnership

Casey explains that transparency in pricing is not synonymous with a good partnership. She argues that being opaque in pricing does not equate to dishonesty and that maintaining some opacity can benefit both parties.

Bio: Casey Brown 

President, BOOST Pricing

Casey Brown is a pricing geek and professional speaker with a passion for helping organizations be paid well for their excellence. She is the president of Boost Pricing where she leads a team of consultants and coaches who help organizations improve pricing performance.

Her decades-long reputation as a pricing expert arose from pioneering innovative pricing content, formulating and executing pricing strategies, and coaching and training teams to drive culture change and dramatic, sustainable results. Now she leads the team at Boost Pricing to help organizations price from confidence, negotiate with courage, and make better pricing decisions.

She is a prominent keynote speaker around the world, and she delivered a TEDx talk in 2015 with over 5 million views to date. She started her career as an engineer at General Electric, working in both R&D and manufacturing, developing technology for which she holds a US patent. She went on to lead cross-functional teams and projects at GE and later at other Global Fortune 500 companies.

Casey is fluent in Spanish, is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt, holds degrees in Chemical Engineering, Spanish, and Business, and volunteers over 600 hours annually around the world, focused on meeting children’s basic needs. She lives in Columbus, Ohio with her family.

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Eric Rozenberg
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