My biggest mistake of pricing was thinking that because it was easy for me, it shouldn’t cost a lot – ease based pricing. No it’s not a technical term but it something that many people do at the start. For example hourly based pricing can feel like the easy thing to do. The question is, is it the right thing to do? If you do it just because it’s easy, it’s probably not the right thing to be doing.
Just think of all those years you’ve spent getting great at what you do or your product does. The schooling, the hours of learning, experimenting, getting it wrong, getting it right and making it “easy” for others. Doesn’t that count for something?
Simply because it’s easy for you, doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone else. If they were to take the same path as you to know what you know and do what you do, then they too would have to invest all that time, energy and resources to get the results. You’re offering a short cut of sorts. They can skip some parts and rely on your expertise…and that has value. If you’re pricing based on ease, then you’re ignoring the value you deliver.
In This Episode
That’s precisely what this episode’s guest found herself doing. Dr. Carrie O. Graham, owner of Carrie O. Graham Learning Solutions and Adult Education Expert confesses she defaulted under pricing, as a result of the wrong line of thinking. She thought if it’s easy for me to do, I can’t charge a lot. She soon recognized it left her feeling that what she was charging wasn’t matching the time and energy she put it in nor did it reflect the value of her offer.
If you prefer to watch the live video head on over to my Youtube channel. Want to skim the transcript, then simply scroll down below.
Podcast Episode Highlights
- 0:00 – Introduction
- 1:32 – Get to know Carrie
- 2:53 – How Carrie brings Value
- 5:03 – How she started her biz
- 8:33 – Pricing the early days
- 10:47 – Improving pricing
- 15:05 – Having pricing discussions
- 19:05 – Wrap Up Question
“(I was guessing) at what sounded appropriate. I was able to make a profit, but it just was not consistent with the true value that I offer. …now, I’m reformed.” Carrie
“While I was generating revenue, it wasn’t matching my investment of time and of energy. I started to really struggle with that concept as one who has a PhD and published work. I know I have value and I know what I know, but how do I put a price tag on that?” Carrie
“My work is tailored services and so therefore is the price. It may mean that the price for one person is different than another person’s price. That was something that I struggled with.” Carrie
“‘m a rule follower and I thought the price needed to be the same to be fair… Fairness (in pricing) also has to consider you.” Carrie
“Pick one area to start in. I had 3 passions when I started and it was a stumbling block for me.” Carrie
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Janene: Carrie, where are you calling in from today?
Carrie: I’m calling in from Charlotte, North Carolina in the east coast of the States.
Janene: Carrie, what would you describe as your super power?
Carrie: My superpower is that I have an amazing listening ear and I’m really proud of it cause I’ve, it has really helped a number of people in my personal life, as well as I pull it in my. And my business and it helps my clients as well.
Janene: Yeah, I would guess it helps you too, right. I mean you to listen as well.
Carrie: Absolutely. I say that I listened to what said, but I also listened to what’s listen for, what’s not said, and that’s so telling in my business for sure.
Janene: Fantastic. Next question. What’s one interesting thing that most people don’t know about.
Carrie: Probably that I am incredibly shy and that I actually don’t enjoy public speaking, even though I’ve presented at national and international conferences. I’ve, I…no…
Janene: You don’t enjoy it.
Carrie: I don’t enjoy. I don’t enjoy it. I’ve learned how to, to go through it and to do it well and to engage my audience. But I’d rather be in the background listening.
Janene: That’s interesting. So maybe we’ll have to interview you again and talk about how to do public speaking for introverts.
Carrie: Yeah. Yeah. It’s it’s been a long journey.
Janene: Are you by chance have Toastmasters.
Carrie: Not, and I’ve been thinking about it recent, I’m almost 50 and so thinking about it.
The Value Carrie Brings Her Clients
Janene: Yeah. Okay, cool. All right. One thing I like to ask people because it’s very much related to pricing in their business. I’d like to first, if you can tell us a little bit about what you do, but then ultimately, how do you bring value to your clients?
Carrie: I use my decades of experience in curriculum development as a professor and my PhD research in adult learning. I bring that to the business owner and organizations to help them truly build a learning experience for an adult learner.
What they do is they walk away, empowered. They walk away understanding the background and foundational information. They understand how to strategically build a learning experience for adults. And then they are empowered in their ability to facilitate .Which is so powerful, so powerful.
Janene: And ultimately what does having those things bring you.
Carrie: It brings them a sense of clarity as it relates to what they’re doing with their service, you know, as coaches and as learning and development professionals. But on the end user side so for their clients, their clients are actually learning the information. They’re retaining the information and the skills, and then they actually apply it.
My experience is that’s where people lost is usually where they aren’t retaining the information or the skills that they’re learning. Because they don’t retain, they don’t have the opportunity to apply it. They don’t see the results. But when you know the right steps to take for adult learners, Your client ultimately sees the results that you’ve promised and that they aspire to have.
How She Started Her Business
Janene: Amazing. Why don’t we take a step backwards, share with us how you started your career and landed with your own business.
Carrie: I started my career in division 1 athletics as a healthcare provider. I was under high pressure and stress developing learning experiences for injured athletes. And then transitioned to being an educator in healthcare. Where I got the foundations of curriculum development and assessment.
Then moved on to working on my PhD. COVID gave me an opportunity to assess where I was professionally and personally, Then I had the opportunity to go into business for myself.
Janene: That’s a wonderful. How long have you been in, your own business?
Carrie: It has been about two years now. I got out of undergrad in 95. So well, over 25 years preparing my journey. When I think back now, it’s easy to say there’s a disconnect between health care and what I do now. But the reality is it prepared me for where I am now.
Janene: Right. I have a similar path in the context that I started as a structural engineer, designing buildings.
Carrie: Yeah. That’s crazy. Right. But you’re right.
Janene: It gives you a skill set, that you can use forever. It doesn’t mean what you did before is a wash.
Carrie: Right. Right.
Janene: That’s very important. Yeah,
Carrie: Absolutely. I find those skills always rise to the top when I’m starting with a new client. It’s important when people are taking on entrepreneurship and business ownership, that you don’t disregard your past experience, but reflect on it. And find a way to take those skills and knowledge and to use it and in the present circumstance.
Pricing At the Beginning
Janene: right. Right, right. Very good. So when you first started to have, when you were having to price your offers, where the world did you start with that?
Carrie: Such a journey. I’m gonna say probably like, most people, I started pricing based on the hour. Because what I do comes easy to me, I was basing my pricing on, well, this is easy. And not really recognizing the value that I was offering someone else who doesn’t have the 25 plus years of experience and knowledge. And, and so. Yeah. I was definitely pricing my services by the hour.
Janene: And how did you decide what was a reasonable, hourly rate?
Carrie: You know, I try my life to be incredibly honest with people. And so I’m going to be honest with you, Jimmy. It was like a crap shoot. Right? Really? I wasn’t comparing my pricing to anyone else, but I was just like, well, what, what sounds appropriate in terms? And, and how I was defining appropriate is, is completely.
I had no definition of it. And so I really, I was able to make a profit, but it just was not consistent with the true value that I offer.
Janene: What probably you want to call it pricing by intuition. You know, to some extent. So you were just going with your, your intuition. I have another term for it. I call it, Pin the Tail on the Donkey Pricing.
Carrie: I’m reformed though. I reformed
Reforming Her Pricing Practices
Janene: Excellent. So why don’t you tell us about how you went from this intuitive or pin the tail on the donkey pricing to where you are now? What was the indicator for change?
Carrie: So while I was generating revenue, it wasn’t matching my investment of time or energy. After a couple of months with that level of pricing is when I started to see some, messaging around value pricing versus hourly pricing. Quite honestly, I started to really struggle with that concept.
I know I have value and I know what I know, but how do I put a price tag on that? For me, it was relatively challenging to figure that out. But the more I had clients tell me just how incredibly powerful the work is that we’ve done.
What was the turning point for me is realizing I wasn’t taking my experience and degree into consideration. That is a high ticket item in terms of offering a service, to be able to share that with someone in a way that they can actually use it.
It’s taken quite some time. I would say my full pricing journey has been about a year. Yeah, it has really, it’s really been about a year. And I really believe that it’s. It’s still evolving.
Janene: As we get comfortable, we do new things in our business. You get in a comfort zone and then the next thing we want is just outside our reach. We expand to go there and what a lot of people do is their prices don’t change until way after they’ve stepped out of the comfort zone. Right?
So pricing wise they hang out in the comfort zone and then they have to catch up later on. I think it’s a constant evolution.
Carrie Exploring World of Pricing
Carrie: Absolutely. I did get that from you. Is that it’s, one of the first introductions that I had to your world is your conversation around discounting.
I wasn’t discounting, but it was something I was constantly thinking about. And I was like, no, like the value, what is the message when you didn’t discount ultimately? And then that really helped me with realizing this is an evolving process. What I’m working to do now is to stay ahead. Like you were saying, instead of staying in the place of comfort, and reactively upping the price rather as I present a new service that the pricing matches that new service.
Janene: I recently had Amanda Berlin on my show. She was saying that, she kept adding value and restructuring her offer, but not updating the price.
And then at one point she ran into this problem where she realized, okay I have a small program that has a price up here and a big program that has a price down here because she had been adding so many things into this one. It ended up with this huge price disparity that was completely illogical.
I think that’s something else a lot of people run into because we’re always building and boosting and adding things or shifting things in the programs or in the offers that we make.
Carrie: Absolutely. I was just talking with one of, one of my coaches yesterday about it a service that I’m to offer next year. She said, you know, you need to start thinking about pricing. And I was like, ah, what am I, what do I do? So I just said, okay, that’s not a conversation for this week. I’m going to use the holiday spirit to think about my pricing around that.
The Pain of Pricing Discussions
Janene: Is it easy for you to have those pricing discussions with prospect clients?
Carrie: Going back to my introvert personality, I struggled with sales. One of the things that my coach shared with me is your price is what it is. It just is what it is. For me, there was some work that I needed to do at the beginning, in a conversation with a perspective client. That way I can really tailor.
My work is around tailoring services. With tailored services the price is tailored too. It may mean that one person’s price is different from another person’s price. And, that was something that early on I struggled with because I’m a rule follower and I believe in like, everything should be fair to everyone and right.
It is fair at the price. Fair, but what I’m providing each person in terms of depth of service is different. Yeah. It’s different. So it’s a journey. It, it really, it has been such a journey. Yeah.
Janene: I like that you bring that up because from my side, what I see, people. Use “it should be fair” as a defense mechanism oftentimes when they’re talking to me or as justification, actually, it’s really justification for the prices that they have. But our definition of what fair is, is so often so warped that it’s, it’s not fair. It’s not fair to yourself. Or to the, you know, the entrepreneur, but then also, different types of businesses will get different value out of the same service.
You’ll go deep into detail with some and just scratch the surface with others, which are different levels of value that they can get. So it really it’s. It is quite variable.
Fairness in Pricing – Be Fair to You
Carrie: Yeah. And, and I was going to say, that level of fairness also is directed to yourself because have you priced yourself low to match a basic service for one client, but yet you’re spending hours and hours on another client.
And so there is this mismatch. I’m trying to work in, walk into the next chapter of my life with ease and peace and calm. Learning and, and dispelling some of the things that I’ve learned in the past and having them transfer to this experience has really and pricing is in fact, one of those things that’s been really interesting.
Janene: Yeah. Yeah. Well, it’s certainly like, I think we’ve discussed before. It’s not something that most people are taught even as part of a coaching or business curriculum. It’s very rarely actually taught step by step. How to do it. You might be told about, well, these are different strategies that are available to you, but for most people, that’s not enough for them to understand how to go about it. It’s a journey.
Carrie: It has in something that you just made me think of in this country, at least, you know, conversations around salary are never discussed. It’s looked down upon, and I firmly believe that, once we are being honest and transparent about pricing, whether it’s salaries, services and products, whatever the case may be, that raises a person’s level of comfort in having those conversations.
But if the talking about price is not the norm. It, it definitely makes it challenging for people.
Wrapping Things Up
Janene: Yeah, it does. Absolutely. Carrie, we need to start wrapping this up. What’s the one thing you’d like people to take away from our discussion today?
Carrie: Pricing just like your entrepreneurial journey it’s yours. Like the pricing is yours. The journey is yours. And to know that it all evolves with you. Don’t compare your pricing or your journey to the next person. Embrace the evolution.
Janene: Next question, what is the best business advice you’ve been given?
Carrie: It’s something that I didn’t want to hear. Pick one area to start in. I had three loves, three passions that I wanted to follow through on this was a stumbling block for me. For anyone getting started, pick one thing to focus on.
Janene: Yeah. Yeah. I totally agree with that. I’ll confess. And those of you who have been following me since the very, very beginning, you already know this, but when I first started my business, there were three topics pricing, mindfulness and communication. I was trying to cover all my bases. And then at one point I was like, wow, this is way too much work.
Carrie: It is in all aspects. It’s too much work.
Janene: I leaned into pricing and I dropped the other things, but it’s all incorporated in the end.
Carrie: Same for me. The other two are definitely incorporated. Be wise, just pick one.
Janene: What’s the one business tip that you’d like to share with everyone?
Carrie: Stay focused on your own journey. I used to tell my students that. Don’t get caught up in comparing yourself to someone else. It’s most important that you are making the best decisions for your business. And it’s easy to try to do what other businesses are doing to be successful. You can glean information from them, but it’s most important that you make the best decisions that you’re able to for your business.