Seeking a VP of Pricing: Inquire Within

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Sometimes I like to joke around about unethical behavior. While I operate under the highest ethical standards, I enjoy coming up with shady business models that are so crazy that they might just work.

My favorite concept was a careers program. Folks would pay a substantial sum to me. The payment would guarantee a fancy title (commensurate with their payment) that they could show off to their friends and use on their resumes. The majority of people I told about this idea balked at it; clearly, no one would ever pay for such a scheme. These people are clearly wrong, however. After all, many European nations had a long-standing system of purchasing officers' commissions.

That is not to say that my careers program was flawless in its conception. There is an obvious problem: my revenue model. Under my initial system, I'd extract a one-time payment as my fee. Wouldn't it be better if I could set up a system of repeated payments instead? Perhaps I could charge my customers a recurring fee. If they were unable to pay the latest increment (I could raise the size of this fee at any time), I would simply wash my hands, delete their records and tell the world that I'd never heard of them.

British military officers
Image courtesy of Raymond Smythies, Cpt. R. H.

According to The Guardian, Jan Mortier may have done just that. The man has been accused of demanding £300 for each employment reference given. It would be bad enough if this charge applied only to his former paid staff, but it appears as though this policy included "junior associates" who paid £1,600 per month for their exclusive positions.

If true, I could see such schemes being used more widely in the business world. Not only can corporations receive free labor, but they can get paid for offering the privilege of allowing folks to work for free and earn additional money when those same folks requested proof of their former "jobs"!

While I can proudly say that I thought of similar pricing schemes first, I can also proudly say that I never attempted to implement them. I'd much rather make my living honestly - through the sale of my software pricing book and business consulting services.