On Subscription Pricing and Being a Firm of the Future

On April 4th, Ron Baker and I did a webinar for Sage Partners entitled Subscription Pricing on the Journey to Becoming a Firm of the Future.

If you were unable to attend or would like to review what was shared, you can view a recording of the session. This webcast is part of the new Sage Transformation Journey Webcast Series. In these sessions, myself and other members of the Sage Partner Advantage team present relevant and timely information on how to develop the business practice of selling subscription pricing and improving the customer experience.

Thank you to those of you who attended the April 4 webcast session. If you were unable to attend or would like to review what was shared, you can view a recording of the session.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a Firm of the Future, please register for the full two-day Firm of the Future Symposium. The next symposium is being held April 24-25 in Southern California!

In addition to the Irvine dates we also have upcoming Symposia in  Vancouver, May 23-24 and Boston July 17-18.

Click here to download the agenda for this event.

Sage partners can register for any of these events today at www.sage.com/partners. Once you login, select Academies & Workshops an then Mid-Market ERP.

If you are not a Sage partner and would like to attend, please contact me or PartnerPrograms@Sage.com.

Firm of the Future Another Raging Success Story

imageThis morning I received the following email from a partner who attended the Firm of the Future Symposium last year.

Congratulations to C. and C. and our new Pricing with A Purpose Team!
 
We just received the signed quote on this deal.  Utilizing the tools Ed has been arming us with, we bid this job 100% higher than we would have under our traditional methodology.  We had no push back from the client regarding the price, as we priced it based on the value of the solution to the them.
 
We have 3 more of these new quotes in negotiation with clients now and a couple more that we are actively developing.
 
This is such an exciting change for us.  Looks like 2012 is going to be fun with lots of leads in our pipeline and tools to maximize the profits on each win!
 
Thanks to Ed Kless for his coaching, poking, prodding, nudging and continual course adjustment!

This is truly and HSD for me!

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If you are interested in attending an upcoming Firm of the Future Symposium, please visit sageu.com.

Rethinking Unlimited Access Level Agreements

While watching Rory Sutherland’s Zeitgeist presentation for the 20th time, I was struck (finally or again) by his story about Spotify and how they have not gotten much traction with their offer of unlimited downloads per month. He suggests that they change it to some absurdly high number like 180 songs a month.

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Sutherland reasons that unlimited provides no context to the offering. As he put it, “Nobody knows what unlimited music is worth. It is a bit like asking, ‘Would you like to buy my unicorn?’”

The 180 song per month limit would give the price context in that it could be compared to iTunes at $0.99 per song. So for $9.99 a month you could enjoy $180 worth of music.

This got me to thinking.

Perhaps access level agreements should have a similar notion. Instead of saying unlimited access, perhaps it should be changed to 30 contacts (phone calls or emails) per month. Now, this would be more than anyone could possible need, and would therefore it would not be a barrier to any customer in terms of being worried about wasting a call on their particular issue. It would, however, allow them to compare it to other plans where there is a per call fee, thereby increase the perceived value of your offering.

What are your thoughts?

ET HORA LIBELLUM DELENDA EST

There is no such thing as losing to “No Decision”

While teaching Sage Consulting Academy last week, I had what my mentor would call a BFO – blinding flash of the obvious – a sale is never really lost to “No decision.”

artworks-000012084925-nwyyay-originalFirst, “No” is a decision and therefore, by definition is a …

Second, while a prospect may not select either you or a competitor, the prospect’s money is going to be spent on something. This could either be continuing to pay another third party to manually do what your system does, or they might simply be buying a new boat for themselves instead.

In either case the message to you (and your competitors for that matter) – You have done a lousy job communicating and convincing the customer that you and your potential solution create value for their organization.

Think about it, if you were the CEO of a small company and had the choice between a new ERP system and a boat, which would you choose? This is yet another reason why your value proposition must be a strong one.

The next time you think you have lost to “No decision",” I suggest you pause and reflect rather than just caulk it up to a confused potential buyer.

My Interview of Peter Wolf of Azamba

I am pleased to present the second (of what I hope will be many) interviews with professionals who are on Ed’s List. Once again, these are firms that offer only fixed price agreements, have eliminated timesheets for all professionals, and offer a service guarantee.

This interview is with Peter Wolf of Azamba Consulting whose purpose is to help customers gather and organize all of their business information and turn it into knowledge.

Introducing Ed’s List

I have been wanting to do this for quite sometime, but I finally have put together what I call Ed’s List.

Simply put, it is a list of the IT (information technology) professional knowledge firms of which I am aware who:

  • Offer only fixed price agreements and do not bill by the time unit
  • Have eliminated timesheets for all professionals.
  • Offer a service guarantee.

The list can be found at http://edkless.com/edslist/ or by clicking the link for the list located at the top right of this blog.

If you or someone you know belongs on the list, please let me know and I will add them forthwith.

On Words I Would NOT Use

At a recent Firm of the Future Symposium with the THRIVEal Network in Greenville, SC, Ron Baker and I were asked about some of our word preferences. On the spur of the moment we developed this quick list of words we believe should be avoided by professional knowledge firms.

Staff – This makes us think of a type of infection. We prefer team member, colleague, associate, or people as alternatives.

Client – In ancient Rome, the lawyers of the day functioned as public servants and were not paid for their work. Instead, they were appointed to their duties in working with their clients. The relationship was not one of equal status and implied a sense of duty and obligation to serve the great unwashed. The word still has this connotation in the context of social workers and their clients. We prefer the term customer which is an Anglo-Saxon word derived from the fact that it was the custom of certain people to frequent a particular place of business.

Value billing – Nothing will set a VeraSagi (our made up and officially adopted name for someone from VeraSage) off into a tirade faster than calling the pricing practices we espouse value billing. A bill is produced in arrears whereas a price is agreed to upfront. This term is linked with professionals when the do write-ups to a time calculated bill. We believe this practice to be more akin to mail fraud. The preferred terms are value pricing, pricing on purpose, or pricing with purpose. When discussing price with a customer we suggest the term fixed price or open (meaning transparent) price.

Fee – This word has a negative connotation as it is associated with governmental and penalty type incursions. We suggest the use of the more neutral word price.

Hours – We believe the only place time spent should matter is in prison. We would ban all use of the word hour and suggest a $5 fine whenever it is used. There is no acceptable substitute.

Training – Horses and dogs are trained, humans are educated. Training implies a bullwhip lashing sounds in the background. Also, do you want your 16-year-old daughter to get sex training or sex education.

Service – We believe most professional firms do not provide services. They provide access to and/or transfer of knowledge, results, objectives, and occasionally goals.

Did we miss any of you favorites? If so, please leave a comment with the term to be avoided and your suggested alternatives.

ET HORA LIBELLUM DELENDA EST