It’s often the case that when you don’t feel confident about what you charge you make judgements or even decisions for your customers. Ones that aren’t yours to make. It often shows up in the form of granting unnecessary discounts. For example if you’ve offered discounts before someone asks for one, before they’ve objected or before you’ve understood how they value your offer.
Unnecessary discounting is one way in which businesses sabotage themselves. Don’t get me wrong there’s a time and place for discounting in some businesses. But more often than not people have offered discounts not because it was a sound business decision. The three main reasons they’ve done it are fear, it’s what they learned from being a consumer or that’s what everyone else seems to be doing. None of those are good business reasons. You have to be smarter about your discounting tactics, otherwise it destroys value, it hurts your confidence and it will definitely drain your profits.
In This Episode
In this episode, I sit down with Rahgna (RJ) Lewis, the CEO of RJ Lewis Digital. Rahgna Lewis is an Army wife and a mother of three. A tinker by nature and a recovering web developer, she created what is now RJ Lewis Digital in 2010 – a boutique agency that specializes in operations strategy and business management. RJ and her team collaborate with small business owners and teams to refine processes, implement procedures, and incorporate the tools they need to get work done — smoothly.
Rahgna shares with us her pricing journey. She reflects on how at the beginning she was offering discounts no one even asked for. What led to her doing that? How did she realize there was an issue? What impact did it have? And how was she able to turn things around? What does she recommend to those of you who find themselves behaving in a similar way? She shares that and so much more.
Enjoy the episode.
Podcast Episode Highlights
- 0:00 Intro
- 2:06 Getting to Know Rahgna
- 3:29 Pricing at the Beginning
- 7:40 Things Rahgna Learned in Pricing
- 9:13 Offering discounts
- 12:06 A journey of Self-Discovery
- 15:00 Wrapping it Up
“It’s not our place as the person offering a service or a product or software to determine what other people could afford. It’s our job to understand what they might be willing to pay and what value they’re looking for, and then price accordingly.” Janene
“It’s (put your mask on first) a metaphor for – get your house in order – then you’ll be in a better position to continue to serve others. BUT that’s ONLY true if you’re profitable enough in your business.” Janene
“Pricing is definitely about the journey. Be willing to have the conversations and go on the go on the walk.” Rahgna
How to Connect with Rahgna
Link to all-in-one audio & video editing tool: https://www.descript.com/
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Janene: Hello everyone, and welcome to Live with the Pricing Lady, the podcast. I’m Janene Liston, your hostess. This show is all about helping build, helping you to build a more sustainably profitable business. Today I’m very pleased to have with us our guest, RJ or Rahgna Lewis. Hi, RJ.
Rahgna: Hi, how are you? And yes, I did just move my camera midstream.
Janene: No problem. Where are you? Well, let’s start with a few questions. Where are you calling from today?
Rahgna: I am in. Used to be Sunny, Chester, Virginia, just south of Richmond.
Janene: Okay. Excellent. So welcome. I’m very excited to have you here with us today. I’ve got a few quick fire questions to go. The first one is, what’s one song that you would say is the soundtrack of your life right now?
Rahgna: Maybe the Loca.
Janene: Why would you say that?
Rahgna: My crazy life. I adopted two dogs recently and they’re both puppies, Coby. So yes.
Getting to Know Rahgna
Janene: I can understand why that would be a bit crazy around the household. All right, next question. What’s your superpower and what would be your superhero name?
Rahgna: Ooh, you got me. Okay. I am a Tinker by nature.
My superhero name would be, you know what I’m gonna go with? Digital, Digital bits, Digital bites, something like that. I don’t know.
Janene: Digital bites. Digital bits. Very good.
Rahgna: That’s on the fly. It was bad because of that.
Janene: Nah, that’s okay. Now maybe you can tell us a little bit about what you do and the value that you bring to clients.
Rahgna: Well, what I do is I’m a system strategist. Like I love to figure out puzzles and that’s actually a part of the value because I like to help people and there’s this intersection of that willingness to figure things out and being okay with that puzzle, not necessarily being my own. I bring that to the table.
Janene: Okay, excellent. I love it.
Pricing at the Beginning
Janene: I’d like to take you back and dig a bit into your pricing journey. Why don’t you tell us how you got started in your business and what it was like the first time you had to set a price for something?
Rahgna: I am a recovering web developer, my business initially started about a decade ago as a web developer, and I loved it. I’m a tinker. I like to help people, it fits, but just because it’s easy for you doesn’t mean it’s easy for someone else. I always would like to go to people and say, yes, I can do this. This will take no time. I got you. I would charge hardly any money, like pennies on the dollar.
Janene: Why do you think that is?
Rahgna: Early on, I had one project for a person. I quoted them a price. It was like $1,600 something – fairly low, but they said, that’s too much. I can build a website for $300 or for less. I feel like I internalize that.
Janene: It’s not uncommon for people when they get push back to take that as reality, the truth, then base their future decisions on that. Sometimes it’s subconscious, sometimes it’s delivering.
Rahgna: Sometimes it’s on purpose.
Janene: Right. Sometimes, you know you’re doing it and sometimes you don’t know you’re doing it. Sometimes you know you’re doing it but do it anyhow. What was it that kind of clued you into that, maybe your price was a bit too low.
Rahgna: As you already know and your listeners would love to know, pricing is about more than just the price. What clued me in was when I couldn’t afford things when I looked at my business holistically and went, I can’t pay for stuff.
Listening to Smart People on the Internet
Janene: What did you do in response to that?
Rahgna: I started listening to some very smart people on the internet. Raising my prices, not arbitrarily, but coming up with different formulas for thinking about how much I really should be charging.
Janene: Was that easy for you?
Rahgna: The nerdy part of it was the part where you have to put that number on a proposal or quote that number to a person.
Janene: Are you just kind of a dive into the deep end, just do it and then figure it out as you go? Or did you find a specific way to try and make that easier for yourself?
Rahgna: I found a way to make it easier for myself. I literally started kind of regulating and trying to structure and create a structure around my pricing. It’s iterative. I go back to the drawing board even now on a regular basis.
Janene: I think that’s important. One of the things I tell people all the time is it’s not a static, some people tend to think that you set the price once and then you can go on your merry way, but it’s something that’s very much developing over time.
Rahgna: Definitely. Like my newest tackle.
Taxes not something I had to factor. I’m fortunate that way.
I’m married and my husband’s in the military. Generally I wasn’t making enough money for my tax expense to not be pretty much covered by his.
Guess what? You make more money. You gotta pay the Piper.
Janene: That’s very true. I don’t remember what it’s like in the US but certainly here in Switzerland, if your business is earning under a certain amount, you don’t actually have to pay that, until you get over that amount.
Things Rahgna Learned in Pricing
Janene: Then it’s a little bit different. But then again, if it’s a value added tax, it kind of sorts itself out, but you just have to consider that in the equation and understand its impact on your business. What are some things that you’ve learned along the way when it comes to pricing?
Rahgna: First, get your mind outta other people’s pockets. Stop making decisions about what you think someone else can afford. Instead, the price is the price. Tell them what you have to charge and what their investment is going to be.
Janene: That’s great. I love that because something that I’ve heard from a lot of people Well, why do you feel nervous about this? Well, I don’t think they can afford it, and my response is, how dare you tell them what they can or can’t afford?
Rahgna: Right. And it’s like, how do you know?
Are you looking at their balance sheet? Are they looking at their balance sheet?
Janene: Well, it’s not our place as the person offering a service or a product or software to determine what other people could afford. It’s our job to understand what they might be willing to pay and what value they’re looking for, and then price accordingly.
But we shouldn’t make judgments about what other people can and cannot afford. In both directions, by the way.
Rahgna: Yes. In both directions. And really your price should not be about their affordability on, there are factors, but that shouldn’t be your main thing.
Like, Oh I think you’re cool. I’m gonna offer you that 30% discount. They didn’t ask for a discount, right.
Janene: Another thing you mentioned when we were speaking is about, offering discounts that people haven’t asked for. How did that come about?
Rahgna: Along the way I started doing it and it would be like, I don’t know.
I think in my mind I thought I was telling them the price and then giving them an incentive to accept the offer by saying, Hey, the price is actually $4,000. But for you, because you’re very special, I’m gonna give you like 40%. Then they go, oh my god, I’m getting a ton of value. Which is not actually the way it happened.
Janene: It happened to be a bit nice. I would challenge that. A lot of people do that also to be nice.
Rahgna: I think in my mind though, I really was doing it to get the business. That was the way to not have to have the conversation about this price is too high.
People Stopped Asking for Discounts
Janene: Did anybody ever ask you for further discounts?
Rahgna: In all honesty, yes, that has happened. But what’s funny about it, now, when I stopped doing that, people stopped asking for discounts.
Janene: That’s important point. On the one hand, you were queuing to them that you were open to discounting before they even objected to the price even, but after a discount.
Definitely in terms, I had a client who used to, for new customers, she always gave a 10% discount. I were like, Why? Definitely not really silent. It’s like, I dunno, it seemed like a,
Cause you feel like your price is too high. She was nervous about asking, She was preemptively striking so that she wouldn’t get a know,
Rahgna: Get your mind outta other people’s pockets.
Janene: Exactly. Was it difficult for you to stop doing that because it can become a habit?
Rahgna: It was a habit, yes, but actually stopping was not difficult because I realized that I had a need. And I kind of just as I listened to some of my mentors online, things like that and worked with other people, I went okay.
This is how the sausage gets made. I cannot be there and offer and do, if I can’t get paid and I can’t buy groceries. Like, this job must be viable.
Janene: Right now, it’s very true. It goes back to that put on your mask first and then help the other people around you.
In this case, it’s a metaphor for get your house in order and you’ll be in a better position to be there to help others and to continue help them if you’re profitable in your business.
A Journey of Self-Discovery
Janene: Another thing that you shared with me is that you found whole topic. I’m paraphrasing maybe about topic, but a journey of self-discovery.
What would you say you learned along the way?
Rahgna: I learned a lot about not just being an owner, but about myself as a person. I didn’t realize that a lot of this did stem from wanting to be nice and that impetus to help people. but that is at my core, who I am and I’m also a person that can have hard conversations.
Well, for me, hard conversations,
Janene: Yeah. I think that that’s a very common thing for many people that, they wanna help and be of service to others. That can get in the way of being, of service to yourself. But the correct path is usually finds some balance between the two, Would you? How did you go about striking that more?
Rahgna: Honestly, it was during the journey I woke up, I literally woke up one day, Rachel Rogers, who is super internet famous, but she had a particular podcast where she’s like, Raise your rates, like just literally two or three times.
I wasn’t comfortable with that (raising my rates), but after I did my due diligence and my nerdy way with my spreadsheets and had a lot of fun doing that, I was like, Okay, look. Realistically you need to be charging this much. Because, I can’t not. That just helped me find the balance with pricing. Then finding the balance with business.
Because you know what? It turns out when you’re an entrepreneur, you are the boss. Go figure. Who knew?
Understanding Your Figures
Janene: Well I think that’s a really fair point that you made there.. Well, no, going back one step about the… understanding your figures, gives you a certain level of confidence in charging what you charge. It’s quite often the fact that people don’t like numbers or they don’t wanna go there because they’re afraid of what they’ll uncover.
But if you don’t, then you can end up struggling a lot more than you have to. And being there in the long term, to be able to be there and be of service to others, your customers. Right?
Rahgna: Something else I even discovered is that if you can build resentment for yourself.
Not just around pricing itself, but around just working with people where you’re like, I’m burned out because you went on vacation. Like, I’m jealous because you went on vacation, and I can’t afford to. And it’s like, wait a minute. You know what? I can’t afford to if I charge what I’m supposed to be charging.
Janene: It’s that simple. Yeah. It is cool.
Takeaway from Today’s Discussion
Janene: I have a few wrap up questions for you. It always goes so fast. What’s the one thing you’d like people to take away from our discussion today?
Rahgna: Well, pricing is definitely about the journey. Be willing to have the conversations and go on the go on the walk.
Janene: Yeah. It’s an evolution, not a revolution. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. For many people, and a lot of people probably don’t realize this is, it’s really more about you at the beginning, what you do and don’t know. Your relationship to money, success, worthiness, and those kinds of things has a big influence as well. Next question. What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
Rahgna: Being a solo entrepreneur is a myth.
Janene: Care to elaborate on that one?
Rahgna: Sure. Again, in my whole little journey, I discovered this guy another internet famous, but his name’s Paul Jarvis and he had this great email newsletter that he talked about being a solo entrepreneur. He’s like, people talk about doing it solo, but you need other people in your business.
Like even if you are the person delivering the main part of what you do, you probably have an accountant, You have a bookkeeper, hopefully if you have a newsletter, maybe you have an editor, you have a podcast editor, whatever these things are, you’re not actually solo. You have support.
So you can have support and that’s okay.
Janene: Not only is it okay, oftentimes it’s necessary.
Rahgna: It’s vital. Yes.
Janene: Excellent. I love that there’s message, such thing as a solo entre. Really, I never thought about it that way, but I like it.
Rahgna’s Fave Tool
Janene: What’s a favorite book or tool you’d like to share with us today?
Rahgna: My thing that I used yesterday that I love is called Descript. That’s descript.com. It’s an audio and video editor that is like editing a document. You literally can just overtype things and it can over dub your voice, which is the coolest thing ever. I don’t have to retake this. I can just type it. Yay me.
Janene: I’m a user of descript. We use it for editing the podcast as well, and it is a fantastic tool. If you haven’t checked it out yet, we’ll put that in the show notes for sure. You’re right, you can just edit the transcript and it edits the video and the audio. It’s awesome. It makes a lot easier.
Rahgna: I cannot explain. It’s like they have a free version that’s really robust.
Janene: Exactly. Head on over to descript.com, try out.
Wrapping It Up
Janene: If people like to find out more about how to work with you, Rahgna, where should they go?
I was gonna go the owner’s perspective, which is a group I’m building, but to work with me, actually, you know what, t.me/theownersperspective, it’s a group, that I’m building. There are literally three people in there. Nobody judge me. But come on over. I’m on Telegram all day, all the time.
Questions, comments? I’m there.
Janene: Perfect. We’ll put the link to your website and other links into the show notes as well, you have different ways to reach out to Rahgna and get in touch with her. Rahgna, thank you so much for joining us today. I really appreciate you sharing your pricing journey with us.
Rahgna: Thank you so much for having me. It’s been a blast. This is so much fun. Thank you.
Janene: You’re welcome. So everyone, thank you for joining us today. Whether you’re watching this live or listening to the podcast later on, we hope that you enjoyed this one last piece from me. I have a new program coming out next week.
A different version of an old program. If you’re familiar with my 10-day customer value challenge, I have also created a self-paced version, a self-paced course of this. If you head on over to thepricinglady.com/betheexpert, as in be the expert in your customer, then you can go check it out there.
As of Monday, you will be able to book the course, but right now you can check out what it’s all about and find out more at thepricinglady.com. Be the expert. That’s all I have for you today. I wish you all the best. Have a great day, and until next time, everyone enjoy pricing.