Johnny Carson

“They say you’re the world’s greatest salesman,” said Carson. “How about you sell me something — say this ashtray?”

“Before I can do that,” replied Ziglar, looking at the ashtray. “I’d have to know why you want it.”“I guess it’s well-made, it looks pretty nice, and it’s a good ashtray,” replied the talk show host.

“Alright,” responded Ziglar, “but you’ll have to tell me what you think it’s worth to you.”

“I don’t know,” thought Carson, “I guess $20 would be about right.”

“Sold!” Ziglar exclaimed, smiling.

Whether this exchange is fable or fact, it unpacks a lot of what it means to price a product: from the interactive approach to the layered, fact-finding line of inquiry. For startups, pricing a product or service is a doorway you must walk through — or users might abandon you at the threshold.

Here at the Review, we’ve spotlighted several keen minds that have nimbly navigated the process of pricing for years — and have built careers and companies doing so. Instead of having you hunt for them in our archives, we’ve assembled the six most impactful actions a startup can take to get their pricing right. Our goal, as always is to help you get smart fast and apply what you’ve learned to make an immediate difference in your company or career. Or, in this case, to help you avoid buying — or selling — $20 ashtrays. Here we go!


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