Human nature and software pricing (#2) – let sales do their job

25 06 2009

Deep in the process of pricing, in the midst of the miasma of spreadsheets, whiteboards, and scenario development, the pricing master will teeter on the edge of sanity.  Combinations of customer situations, past corporate agreements, and product development plans will swirl and form into transient clusters of pricing policy and licensing metrics that must be analyzed and evaluated.

Let’s talk about that for a second because it sounds like I’m out of my mind.  But we’ve been there… the vortex of information that surrounds pricing can overwhelm the senses and make good ideas indistinguishable from disastrous ones.

While I do believe that to know pricing is to know madness at times, pricing will always drive you to that point if you forget this simple rule:

Let sales people do their job.

Sales can be your ally, but you have to involve them in a specific way in order to bring about the best results for you, the company, and their commission.

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Opera Unite + Windows Home Server?

16 06 2009

I’ve gotten a lot of hits on my article about how I extended my Windows Home Server (WHS) with Hamachi.  I use Hamachi because I need a more direct way to interact with my WHS content away from home (beyond what Microsoft’s remote access supports).  But that’s really just file sharing.

The next step to me is socialization.  If you’ve listened to Seth Godin’s TED talk about enabling “tribes”, you could see that the most immediate tribe most people have is their family.  WHS can help fulfill your tribe’s interest in family photos and media, but there could be more to it…

Perhaps there’s a way to use Opera Unite to create a richer experience around WHS.  While Opera Unite says it’s designed to remove the middleman (or the middle machine?) from the content-sharing equation, I contend there is a role for a server in this brave new peer-to-peer world.

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Product management and pricing: floor wax or dessert topping*?

11 06 2009

I’m going to clarify some terms. 
I promise this relates back to pricing and product management.

Art is not a pejorative term

But some people use the word “art” to denigrate anything that they believe has no intrinsic value or lacks a factual basis.

People fear having their work labeled as “art” because it implies that their work is superficial, unrepeatable, and lacks measurable value.  Basically: un-fundable.

Marketing, product marketing, product management, interaction design, and design in general have all tenaciously emphasized the quantitative aspects of their fields in order to avoid having their fields classified as “art” (and therefore irrational and value-free).

And, if all you have met are flighty, self-important, arbitrarily enigmatic, talent-free, damaged hacks that call themselves “artists”, I’d have to agree with you.

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Human nature and software pricing (#1)

10 06 2009

For over seven years, it was my responsibility to price a complex software product.  I didn’t expect it to be a place to learn about the psychological interplay of rules and human relationships.

Over the next several posts, I will share what I’ve learned empirically.  No, there is no pricing magic wand.  However, if you’ve searched the product management literature and the Internet, you’ll find that very few people have discussed pricing anything more complex than single user software licenses or golf balls.

So let’s begin.

Pricing jujitsu and your evil twin

The customer is not your adversary.  Yes, you are trying to extract money from their wallet.  But your job is to quantify the value of your product so your sales force and customers can come to a long-term, mutually beneficial agreement.

This is why complex software never gets sold for list price.

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ReadyBoost = nope?

1 06 2009

There’s a lot of press about Windows 7 these days, and while I’m looking forward to it, I thought I would share my experiences with a feature in Windows Vista that is also in Win7.

Back in its early beta phases, we were introduced to an interesting and promising feature called “ReadyBoost”.  It seemed like a great idea for IT departments and home users everywhere.

Simply put: you may eek out a bit more performance from your existing hardware by just plugging in a USB drive.

This is all due to the fact that flash memory access on the USB stick is faster than disk access to a swap file.  Vista uses that extra space to swap in chunks of information and help your forestall the inevitable memory upgrade you’ve been pondering for the past year.

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