Base Your Pricing on Your Customer's Preferred Outcome

February 08, 2011

It's common wisdom that what people want is a solution. There is even a school of sales training and many books around the concept of "solution selling".

I disagree. Not everyone wants a solution, i.e. something solved.

Your best customer wants something specific to happen when they use your product or service. Sometimes they want and need something else. Not everything is a "problem" for a customer; sometimes, it's a "gap" that needs to be filled. I talk to my clients about "gaps" not "problems".

In my 30 years experience, there are actually six different results a customer values. The one to stress as a benefit and to base your product or services features depends on the Platinum Customer Profile™ of your best customers.

Your Platinum customer may want:

  1. Something solved.
  2. A problem reduced.
  3. A way to maintain the status quo.
  4. A potential problem prevented.
  5. An issue eliminated.
  6. An opportunity created.

I call this Situational Outcomes™ because it puts the emphasis on the right thing: results from the customer's point of view. Your product or service should do that. Your benefits and features presented in your collateral and website should reflect that. Your pricing should reflect the value the customer gets — is it high value, low value, moderate? Your pricing should not violate laws including the Deceptive Trade Practices Act of the Business and Commerce Code and Clayton Act (Robinson-Patman Act amendment). These help you achieve best practices in pricing.

TAKE AWAY: Before you offer to "solve" something, make sure you are really giving them what they want and value. The outcome they need may be different than you imagined. Just saying you have a solution is too simplistic and second guesses your client — never a good idea.

How do you determine what they want? You ask. You listen intently to what they say. You respond accordingly with a product or service that can do this.

Asking can be tough. One resource to give you ideas on good questions for all kinds of situations is Smart Questions by Dorothy Leeds (lots of examples) and Smart Questions by Gerald Nadler (process focus). I will be doing a webinar on pricing for the Business Bank of Texas on February 10 at 10am that will deal with this in more detail. I will be providing attendees with a Pricing Glossary & Concepts sheet with over 50 top terms. If you would like a copy of this, please send me an email (

Another book I recommend is by Thomas Nagle, the Strategy & Tactics of Pricing. It has inspired me for many years in its earlier version by Nagle and Reed Holden.

What does your best customer want? Does your experience match mine that they are looking for more than just a solution? I would be interested in your opinions. Do you have books that inspire and help you formulate questions or give you pricing ideas?

Topics: Sales, Blog Posts, Strategic Planning

Jan Triplett

Business Success Center

Jan Triplett, Ph.D. is the CEO of the Business Success Center (BSC), a City of Austin certified green business, that provides sales and financial growth strategies, planning, and implementation. She is also a professor in Business and Professional Skills for the online MBA program at Mary Baldwin University. Triplett is a national and international speaker, author of A Networker’s Guide to Success and co-author of Thinking Big, Staying Small and Easy to be Green. She published The Networker ” magazine for over ten years and moderated KUT radio’s nationally syndicated program, “The Next 200 Years”. She was co-creator of the award-winning “City Management Academy” and the “Owners MBA” and co-founded the Entrepreneurs’ Association Hatchery incubator and accelerator. She is a small business activist. She served as a White House Conference on Small Business and Congressional Summit delegate, served on the Mayor’s Task Force on International Infrastructure, initiated the Northcross IBIZ District and recommended portions of Austin’s Big Box Ordinance. She was a founder of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce of Texas and the Greater Austin International Coalition. The SBA honored her as Texas’ Small Business Advocate. She has also earned her CBTAC and Director credentials. Her company received a Small Business Administration (SBA) five-star national award and the Austin Business Journal named it a top 20 management consulting firm.
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