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2 Ways to Get Someone to Swallow a Pricing Pill

Have you ever tried to give a pill to a dog or a cat?

Usually, animals are pretty resistant to taking their medicine. They aren’t going to eat a pill if you just put it in their food dish. So owners usually resort to one of two methods.

The first approach involves brute force. You pry open your pet’s jaws, throw the pill as far back in his throat as you can, and then hold his mouth shut until you feel him swallow.

Sometimes this method works. But sometimes the dog or cat is incredibly good at hiding the pill so he can spit it out later. Some even regurgitate the medicine hours afterward — usually on your favorite piece of clothing.

And in most cases, this option leaves pets more than a little irritated.

The other approach is to trick your pet into swallowing the pill. You hide the medicine inside something that your dog or cat loves so much that he swallows it in one gulp. Maybe it’s a piece of cheese or a glop of peanut butter. Maybe tuna from the can. Or filet mignon or goose liver paté.

This method seems to work a little more often. And it has the advantage of leaving the pet in a really good mood. If you do it right, he’ll probably even beg for more.

You’ve probably figured out where we’re going with this. Most new pricing initiatives require some sort of change that people in your company regard with all the enthusiasm that your schnauzer has for amoxicillin.

And just like with your pet, you have two options: you can try to force people to do what you want or you can “trick” them into embracing the change because they think it is something they really want.

We would humbly suggest that the gentler coercion is usually the more effective route.

Of course, you can’t just slather your new pricing technology in peanut butter in order to get people to accept it. You’re going to have to be a little more creative, but you can use the same principles that work on pets.

You see, your dog eats the pill that is surrounded by steak for two reasons:

  1. It feels natural.
  2. The perceived benefits are extremely enticing.

If you can architect your pricing change in such a way that it also feels natural and offers tangible benefits that seem well worth the effort, you will have a much better chance of persuading your coworkers that it is a good idea.

You’ve probably experienced something very similar at least once in your life when you adopted a new technology. If you are old enough, you may remember the first time you used a computer with a mouse. At first, it seemed really weird, but it only took you a few seconds to get the hang of it. It felt natural, and the benefit of being able to move around the computer screen so quickly made using the mouse attractive.

Or maybe you remember the first time you used a smartphone with a touchscreen. The interface seems so natural that even babies and senior citizens master it right away. And the benefits are obvious. Ditto for most of the other technologies — like Netflix, Uber, and Alexa — that have become ubiquitous parts of our lives.

If you want your pricing initiative to succeed, put some effort into making the change feel as natural as possible. Maybe you can even arrange it so that people don’t even realize a change has happened — like the pill in the steak.

At a bare minimum, you need to make sure that the change is offering real benefits to your end users and that they understand those benefits. Best of all is if the change is both natural and offers an obvious tangible benefit.

We have a few resources that address this idea in more detail. Check out the tutorial on Delivering Answers to the Point of Sale, the case study on Using a Cost-Plus Mindset to Your Advantage, the tutorial on Using The “Measurement Effect” to Improve Margins, and the webinar on Profitable Pricing Enablement. They’re all full of examples of how smart pricing teams got their coworkers to swallow a pricing pill without spitting it back out again.

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