The Art & Science Behind Pricing & Packaging, with Dan Balcauski, Product Tranquility


Who is in charge of pricing decisions at your SaaS org? For nearly 60% of companies, it’s the CEO or an opinionated decision-maker in the C-suite. But who should own it?

Project Tranquility Founder Dan Balcauski answers this question in the newest episode of SaaS Half Full, breaking down the art and science of SaaS product pricing and packaging (two very different elements) and advocating for marketers to focus on the “who” and “how” they charge instead of the price itself (AKA, the “what”).

So, who owns product pricing?

Ask 100 different SaaS leaders this question, and you’ll likely receive 100 answers. But according to Dan, most SaaS companies jointly assign pricing responsibilities to the CEO and finance, sales and product teams. But this structure leads to misalignment in price and “limits the ability to make progress.”

“The CEO is probably concerned about reporting their gross margins to the board and making sure that burn rate is acceptable…. [while] sales is very much transaction-driven, and so they’re going to want to make sure that pricing doesn’t get in the way of meeting their quota for the quarter… [Meanwhile], you’ve got marketing trying to maximize conversions and awareness,” said Dan. “And so when you add that mix together, it becomes quite a minefield to navigate.”

The best product pricing decision-maker? Ideally, a product marketing leader — or a dedicated pricing leader for companies with more than $200M in annual revenue.

Vesting full responsibility to a single team or leader ensures the final decision is direct and value-driven. Additionally, by removing the CEO from the equation, product pricing becomes less of a “political hot potato.”

Packaging ≠ pricing

Many SaaS decision-makers talk about pricing in terms of ones and zeros (well, .59s and .99s). But there’s more to pricing decisions than the numerical price itself. Dan suggested considering pricing and packaging as separate but related concepts to understand this difference.

Take McDonald’s, for example. By no means a SaaS organization; McDonald’s still adopts a similar packaging model as software. They sell their famous Big Mac in different packages: value meal, supersized, etc. Although McDonald’s pays the same price-per-Big-Mac (PPBM, if you will), they receive an additional payment based on accompanying items (e.g., fries, Coke, salad, vanilla latte).

Therein lies the trick to pricing: Identifying which accoutrements will entice users to pay different prices for the same essential offering.

“[Decision-makers hung up on arbitrary pricing differences are] painting in black and white, and they’re never gonna be able to paint a beautiful sunset if they only have a conversation at that specific level,” said Dan.

The “who” and “why” of pricing > the “what”

Most organizations develop ideal customer profiles (ICPs), but is this information shared organization-wide? According to Dan, not typically — but it should be, or else the product will never find a market fit. Pricing decision-makers should prioritize developing ICPs, and customer-proof points early in the process.

“[Lack of ICP sharing is] highly dysfunctional because then you have one team building a product for ostensibly a different customer than we’re trying to market and sell to,” said Dan. “So, when those leads come in the door, they’re not going to buy, the product won’t be right for them. So it’s going to be sadness all around.”

For more of Dan’s insights on how to avoid “sadness all around” in product pricing, listen to Episode 347 of SaaS Half Full.

Quit Pointing Fingers: It’s About Brand and Demand Balance, with Palmer Houchins, G2


“Do more with less” is this year’s most-hated phrase for marketers. This thought process often directly impacts budgets responsible for a company’s reputation. On this episode of SaaS Half Full, Host Lindsey Groepper talks with Palmer Houchins, Head of Marketing at G2, about the lopsided finger-pointing that often happens between demand and brand teams, especially in a recession when short-term ROI is king.

Grab a drink and join the discussion as Palmer dives into what CMOs often get wrong about their brand spend, how to intertwine brand and demand to create balance, and why a founder brand works for some organizations, maybe not others.

Strike the right brand-demand balance

As humans, we want to categorize things. Maybe that explains why brand and demand colleagues — who, by the way, are working toward the same organizational goals — often find themselves at odds, according to Palmer.

In reality, demand cannot exist without brand, and vice versa. For example, say an organization identifies that paid search is performing well. In response, they increase their demand budget at the expense of brand. Their pipeline triples by the second month. But by the fourth month, their pipeline peters out entirely, and they’ve lost brand recognition and momentum — AKA, they’re back to the drawing board for both brand and demand.

Palmer said he’s been in a situation like this more than once, and it’s convinced him that balance is beautiful.

“It’s not about brand or demand. It’s about creating that symmetry. And it looks different for every company,” said Palmer. “I think if you approach it from [the perspective], ‘oh, well, demand is where our pipeline’s down,’ or ‘we’ve gotta get more leads to our sales team, [so] we’re just gonna invest there…’ That may be a short-term strategy, but long term, it’s going to put everyone behind the eight ball.”

But how do we measure brand?

The age-old question is receiving more mileage recently as executives turn to metrics to understand their organizational spending. Unfortunately, brand is trickier to quantify than some other business functions — however, it’s not impossible if you get creative.

Palmer has developed two methods to track brand initiatives and brand-marketing balance.

  • Nimble surveys or awareness testing: Palmer suggests using relatively inexpensive testing methods to track brand awareness over time. Theoretically, awareness should constantly be increasing.
  • Brand perception studies: Quick questionnaires placed in channels your audience already uses — like Google, Youtube or Facebook — can help gauge how your brand is performing relative to a competitor’s.

Although they’re “no silver bullet,” Palmer said these initiatives have helped him and his team create an action plan when brand awareness lags behind demand.

“It’s less about finding that one framework that’s gonna work everywhere and more about being… nimble and taking a temperature in a bunch of different places and trying to add that up to a recipe that works,” said Palmer.

Founder brand doesn’t  — and shouldn’t — always look the same

Just like there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to measuring brand, there’s no “correct” path for establishing a founder brand. For some founders, it works; for others, it doesn’t. Palmer advised marketing professionals to follow their founder’s lead here.

“I’ve seen some founders who just say, ‘you know what, this is not me. I’m more of a technical founder. I’m more of a behind-the-scenes person. I don’t want to do that,’” said Palmer. “But I think when it’s done right, it can be really effective. Frankly, I think when it’s done right, it’s less about the founder and more about the brand, if that makes sense.”

As an example, Palmer discussed his time in Marketing at MailChimp. MailChimp co-founder and then-CEO Ben Chestnut didn’t love public speaking, but he was a fantastic writer. So, he provided near-daily customer updates that became “evangelism of its own.”

Listen to Episode 346 of SaaS Half Full for more of Palmer’s insights.

The Great Divide Between Corp Comms & Marketing, with Grace Williams, BLASTmedia


Gone are the days of internal-only communications. Every internal message is now at the risk of being shared externally, creating more pressure for communications professionals to skillfully craft statements surrounding economic, societal or company impact events (RIFs, outages, data breaches, etc.). As a result, Corporate Communications roles have never been more in demand or vital to a company’s long-term reputation.

So, why does this function still report to marketing, a department typically focused on short-term ROI? In this episode, Grace Williams, SVP of PR at BLASTmedia, makes a case for why Chief Communications Officers and other high-level corporate comms leaders should report directly to the CEO.

Marketing and comms deserve an amicable breakup

As the SVP of BLASTmedia, Grace has plenty of experience working with marketers who report to the CEO. She’s noticed a few concerning patterns with this structure.

“[Marketers squeezed by CEOs] are saying, ‘Why [comms and PR support]? What’s this going to do for me? How’s it going to drive demand?'” said Grace. “I spend a lot of time helping to educate our clients on why certain media opportunities are worthwhile and… what they will accomplish eventually.”

The fact is, communications and PR fulfill a distinctly different role from marketing — so much so that many CMOs wish they could lose their comms responsibilities.

“It’s more difficult for those CMOs because they’re constantly having to fight for the brand budget, justify their brand budget,” said Grace. “Often we’re in a situation where, even if we’re working with an SVP of marketing or CMO who believes in brand, they’re having to communicate that up the chain to maybe a CEO or founder who does not.”

“Doing more with less”

Does that heading ring a bell? If you’re a marketer, the answer is almost certainly “yes.” Over the past three years, many marketing leaders have been forced to transition from a growth-at-all-costs mindset to a demand gen and ROI-oriented approach that prioritizes results, results, results (all with fewer resources, resources, resources).

Accordingly, Grace said strategic and long-term initiatives like communications often go ignored, especially if these roles are in the marketing department.

“[In the] heyday of 2020, 2021, there was a lot of time and resources to invest into different parts of the business. And now [marketing leaders are] like, ‘okay, let’s make sure that we have our pipeline stable and we’re growing at a steady rate,” said Grace. “It’s a little bit like, ‘let’s not deal with that comms stuff over there that’s not gonna give us the results we wanna see right away.'”

According to Grace, the problem with sidelining corporate communications strategy is that it’s an excellent way to lose sight of vital long-term initiatives like crisis communications and brand perception.

The solution? Give communications leaders a little more autonomy.

CCOs wear plenty of hats

Contrary to popular belief, according to Grace, CCOs and their corresponding team can easily support all functions of the business, much like the marketing, sales and finance departments.

For example, a communications team could work with HR to craft an internal note celebrating the company’s recent wins; they could partner with marketing to highlight customer stories and draft newsletters; and they could work closely with the CEO to provide them with talking points for conferences, internal gatherings and even analyst meetings.

In the context of real estate marketing, the communications team’s versatility shines through. Teaming up with the marketing department, they can weave engaging narratives around customer success stories, creating content that not only captures the essence of successful property deals but also amplifies the brand’s credibility. Crafting newsletters that highlight key market trends, investment opportunities, and company milestones can become a powerful tool in maintaining client engagement. For a comprehensive experience of how such collaborations can manifest, one can explore the vibrant real estate landscape in Georgia at

Moreover, the CEO’s communication requirements in the real estate finance sector are intricate and multifaceted. A communications team, aligning closely with the CEO, can provide invaluable support by offering well-researched talking points for conferences, internal gatherings, and analyst meetings. This ensures that the leadership is equipped with articulate and compelling messaging, fostering confidence and trust among stakeholders. Navigating the complex intersections of real estate finance and effective communication, CCOs and their teams emerge as indispensable assets in driving the success of a real estate enterprise.

“The external communications piece and the executive communications piece are certainly growing in importance to an organization. People — whether that be your investors, your partners, and specifically your employees — want to hear from the leaders of your organization.

And those leaders certainly need help in making sure their messages are on point,” said Grace.
Listen to Episode 345 of SaaS Half Full for more of Grace’s insights.

Why Hidden Pricing is Enemy #1, with Allyson Havener, TrustRadius


Despite data supporting the case for creating a more self-serve buying process, many SaaS revenue teams still operate in a way that is legit the opposite of what today’s buyer wants. New report data from more than 2,000 B2B tech buyers reveals what self-serve looks like in practice — and it’s transparent pricing, free demos and no freakin’ cold calls.  

Listen as Lindsey speaks with Allyson Havener, VP of Marketing at TrustRadius, about the report’s results and how it’s changing the course for SaaS go-to-market teams.

B2B buyers want the royal treatment (AKA, a B2C experience)

TrustRadius’ 2022 B2B buying trends report has an intriguing title: “The Age of the Self-Serve Buyer.” The report suggests B2B buyers crave consumer experiences, even when shopping for organizational expenditures like software.

In other words, according to Allyson and TrustRadius data, buyers want B2B brands to court them in a different (albeit familiar) way. They want to feel like they’re sitting at home in their pajamas and impulse-buying a Stanley cup. But why is that, exactly?

“More and more millennials and Gen Z are joining the buying committee. They’re coming into places of leadership, and they’re digital natives,” said Allyson. “In B2C [interactions], you have all this product information and customer feedback at your fingertips. You don’t have to interact with people to interact with a brand. And so that’s transcending into B2B.”

In fact, Allyson said 100% of respondents indicated that they prefer self-service B2B buying platforms (up from 80% last year). And that’s not the only wild stat Allyson and Lindsey discussed…

Hidden fees are out, transparency is in

In other instances, it may be wise for marketers to act as not-so-mysterious shoppers themselves. After all, to sell like a B2B pro, marketers must first buy like a B2B pro. And when marketers put themselves in the buyer’s seat, they’re more likely to keep pace with rapidly changing consumer standards.

“We can pretend, and we can research, but you have to feel the pain, and you have to feel what it’s like to have a deadline and jump through the hoops to get these demos and make a business case internally,” said Gracey. “You need real skin in the game to feel what your buyers are feeling.”

Allyson’s trick to getting organizational buy-in for direct, pricing-first structures? Discuss the approach’s benefits with your entire go-to-market team, including sales and customer success.

“It’s not fun to be sold to”

TrustRadius’ report detailed the top five resources buyers rely on through the sales funnel — and for the first time in seven years, vendor sales representatives weren’t one of them. Allyson said this is a significant trend away from traditional sales tactics like the dreaded cold call.

“As a marketer, everybody’s dodging calls and emails all day. So… if you think about the sales role in that perspective, and you think about your end customer… and what they really want, well, they want someone that really understands their problem and their use case,” said Allyson. “So, I think it’s much more of this consultative [relationship] versus trying to shove a product down someone’s throat, right?”

Listen to Episode 344 of SaaS Half Full for more of Allyson’s insights.

How Sales Technology Has Evolved in the COVID-19 Era

Fight or Flight. It’s the primal human response that occurs when faced with a harmful or threatening event. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many industries and professionals to make quick transitions to fight this challenge, or take flight and let the pandemic win. The B2B sales industry was no exception. According to a study by Business2Community, COVID-19 has caused a 73.9% decrease in B2B sales opportunities. How has the industry fought this harsh reality?

B2B sales went digital and, more importantly, adopted sales technology to not only assist with this transition, but also gain insights, advice and enhance productivity during this time of crucial change. Sales technology provided the tools the B2B industry needed to stand up to the fight. But finding success through the use of sales technology took place in phases.

According to McKinsey and Company, the three phases of the COVID response for the sales industry are: 

  1. Navigating the Crisis
  2. Preparing for Recovery
  3. Reimagining the Next “Normal’

Each phase has played a crucial role in the efforts we have seen from sales technology through the COVID-era so far. Let’s take a closer look at how each breaks down:

Phase 1: Navigating the Crisis

The first step to any response is surveying the damage and navigating through it. That’s exactly what vidREACH did beginning in late March 2020. In sales, human interaction is a core component, and finding a way to imitate that in a virtual setting was necessary for the sales industry to achieve long-term success. According to a study by Google, 64% of B2B buyers have increased their use of online video. Seeing this drastic increase affirmed the need for video sales technology as B2B sales teams navigate this crisis.

vidREACH, a video email and sales engagement platform, introduced vidREACH Individual. CEO Sean Gordon told MediaPost this product assists sales teams in achieving “enhanced human-to-human connections straight from a phone or video email solution to help sales teams improve engagement with customers and prospects.” Core features include the ability to send, track engagement analytics and easily integrate with Gmail, Outlook and Salesforce, in order to create a more human-to-human interaction throughout the new virtual sales process. vidREACH and its email video solution made the first step in the road to recovery. 

Phase 2: Preparing for Recovery

After the initial shockwave rolls through and you have navigated the transition, it’s time to prepare for recovery. This doesn’t mean preparing for the problems, but moreso, looking at the current situation, analyzing customer needs and finding your opportunity. In the COVID-19 era, customers need data, personalization and trust before purchase. 

For the sales enablement and content management platform Mediafly, this realization led to the development of a content hub that provides customers with personalized and evidence-based sales content, which launched in July 2020. In the Startup Selling Podcast, Carson Conant, CEO of Mediafly, talked about the importance of integrating personalized and interactive content within the sales process through sales technology. Conant said, “If you create content that is more interactive, more dynamic and more data-driven, you can arm the salespeople with a better story and you can show [customers] that it is in their best interest to use [your product].”

Mediafly’s content hub accounted for the needs of prospects and customers. In order for businesses to recover their sales pipeline, it was essential to incorporate data, personalization and trust into the sales process. Mediafly realized that essential component and integrated that ability into their platform, allowing B2B businesses to sail through this unprecedented time, heading for recovery in what will likely be a new normal.

Phase 3: Reimagining the Next “Normal”

Life as we know it will look a little different in the post-COVID era. For example, Kate Lister, President of Global Workplace Analytics, predicts 25-30% of the workforce will be working virtually multiple days a week by the end of 2021. With the continuance of a highly virtual workflow, sales teams are looking for ways to succeed in the next “normal.” is helping achieve success in the virtual sales process by providing a sales technology tool that uses AI to track and analyze virtual pitches so sales teams can close deals even if all their buyers operate virtually. WIRED covered a story in October 2020 on how Chorus’ sales technology tool is helping MavenLink enhance its sales efforts. Jeramee Waldum, President of Global Sales for Mavenlink, said Chorus helped his team secure a deal by analyzing their pitches, providing coaching recommendations, tracking analytics and more to identify and highlight the client’s concerns. Upon this insight from Chorus, MavenLink structured their sales efforts to align with the client’s specific needs, leading to a successful sale. 

While we’re not out of the woods in regard to the pandemic, the determination and effort put forth shows the sales technology industry is following the path to return B2B sales to success. vidREACH, Mediafly and Chorus are only a few cases of many sales technology platforms fighting to ensure sales success throughout our journey and into the next “normal.”

Is your sales technology platform enhancing the success of virtual B2B sales? Contact Lindsey Groepper to find out how BLASTmedia can share your solution.

3 Ways PR Can Help Generate B2B Sales

While PR isn’t going to be your only — or frankly your most cost-effective — direct lead driver, it can help feed the B2B sales funnel at different points.

PR is a value that shouldn’t be ignored according to Mark Suster, two-time entrepreneur, turned VC.  Mark stated, “If I had $1 dollar left to spend on marketing I would put it to PR. If anybody tells you differently, be suspect. Most people don’t understand the silent benefits [of PR].”
Continue reading “3 Ways PR Can Help Generate B2B Sales”