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Avoiding the Curse of Pricing Knowledge

In preparing for the subscriber-only training seminar, Getting Salespeople to Price Better, it struck me just how significant the language barrier can be to having productive conversations about pricing.

And no, I’m not referring to a situation where one party is speaking French and the other is speaking Cantonese. But I might as well be…

Let’s be honest…the lexicon of pricing can be extremely esoteric. Those of us who have been involved in pricing for a number of years can talk about differential value quantifications, price elasticity curves, and breakeven volume calculations as easily as salespeople talk about last weekend’s golf scores.

The curse of knowledge is a phenomenon whereby people or groups who are better-informed find it increasingly difficult to think about problems and issues from the perspective of those who are less-informed.

In the highly-specialized world of pricing, this can create a counter-productive communication gap. As we become more and more knowledgeable about pricing and the esoteric becomes second-nature, we can end-up speaking a very different language than those we are trying to collaborate with and influence.

So, how do you avoid the curse of pricing knowledge?

Awareness is the first step. Once you’re aware of the phenomenon and how it manifests, you’re much more likely to recognize the signs and symptoms in your own environment.

The next steps are simply a matter of being thoughtful about your audience and vigilant about how you’re communicating with them:

  • Think about the level of knowledge you’re assuming the other parties possess. Are you putting the other parties in a position where they might have to admit that they don’t know something? (Hint: They won’t.)
  • Think about the language and terminology you’re using in your conversations. Are you talking about “acetylsalicylic acid” when the term “aspirin” is just as accurate, but far more accessible and understandable?
  • Think about how you’re trying to convey your thoughts and ideas. Are you delivering what amounts to a scientific proof or thesis defense when stories, analogies, and real-world examples would be far more effective?

Remember, using esoteric language and talking about things no one else understands is not what defines an expert. A real expert is someone who knows the subject matter so well that they can help others understand it, too.

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