Let’s dive into one of the more controversial topics in all of sales: how and when to provide pricing. I have ran sales for several companies in my career, and I have changed my mind several times. So I understand the two major perspectives on this question quite well.
In fact, it has been some great insight from other co-workers over the years that has formed and strengthened by belief on how to handle pricing. After countless hours of research, years of real-world experience, and (at times) heated debates, I can confidently say that I know the answer: “It depends”.
Forgive me for that build up, as I will try explain in this post what “it depends” actually means, and how your business should treat pricing disclosure. As I mentioned, there are really only 2 perspectives, and either one can be the correct position depending upon several factors such as product / service, sales process, and target customer.
The Two Perspectives on Pricing:
Why you shouldn't share pricing right away
There quite a few reasons to hold off on pricing right away. The most common one is when the product or service is custom or unique to each individual. In other words, it can be impossible to show pricing without gathering some information from your prospect.
Another reason to hold off on pricing is when you know your pricing on the upper end compared to your competitors. In this case, it is important to sell value in order to educate your prospects as they compare options – helping them make an “apples to apples” comparison.
Without diving too deep into sales strategy, it can take some effort in discovering how to present value to each prospect, and pricing conversations can be misleading, set false expectations, and give prospects the wrong impression.
You don’t want pricing to influence someone’s perception of your product / service before they fully understand it.
To simplify this perspective, there are two types of businesses that shouldn’t list pricing:
- Those that don’t have an online presence that demonstrates their value – thus necessitating human interaction to show value
- Those that are looking for any and all customers – including (especially?) those who price shop.
Why you should show your pricing upfront
Pretty much any commodity should have pricing available. People expect this, and if they can’t see pricing, they’ll move right along to the 100’s of other websites that will show them pricing.
But I think that an argument can be made for many other businesses to show their pricing up front for several reasons:
Saving time and qualifying prospects
For many businesses, price shoppers are the worst kind of customer. They often require the most amount of energy during a sales cycle, yet have the lowest close rate. I can tell you from experience that it is quite difficult to sell value to a person that is already predisposed to price-shop.
Show confidence in your product and brand
The best option: find the middle ground
As you might have picked up, I lean towards showing your pricing, unless you are not confident in the value of your product. In which case, whether or not to show pricing shouldn’t be your top concern.
That being said, I have found the middle ground to really provide the best of both worlds.
So what is the middle ground?
I am referring to a process of making your pricing available online, but requiring the customer to put some skin in the game to see it. To be clear: I am not referring to a contact form where a user has to give their name, email, phone, etc. to see something. That’s the same as not showing your pricing.
Rather, I am referring to a process where prospects can engage with your site and drive the sales / quoting processes themselves. Think of this like first stage of your sales process – qualification.
Believe it or not this is quite simple to build into your site. In fact, that is exactly how we offer pricing for new websites.
How to set this up
- Determine the information do you need to gather from a prospect before you can give high-level pricing
- What are the possible answers, and how do those affect pricing?
- List out several steps where a prospect can input their needs, and have that adjust pricing
- Show the pricing at the end. Keep it high-level and use a range.
- Then, and not before, offer them the ability to contact you and/or fill out a form.
Now you've accomplished the benefits of both approaches:
But how do I do this for my business?
I can’t answer that for you, but I’m sure you can figure it out for your business model. Here’s an example that may help: a car wash. I’m not necessarily recommending this for a car wash, but it works as a good illustration:
Most websites for car washes have a pricing page that looks a lot like a menu. They list out several “packages” with the cost and a list of services that are included in that package. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it allows customers to quickly determine the cost.
Now imagine implementing the scenario I listed above.
The customer inputs the following:
- The size of their vehicle
- How dirty it is
- Interior, exterior, both
- Details about interior (clean carpets, wipe down dash, etc.)
- Details about exterior (wax, tire shine, etc.)
And some “bonus” questions 😉
- Do they want to wait while it’s being cleaned or drop it off?
- Would they like to schedule a specific time that works for their schedule?
Show them the pricing and possible CTA’s:
- Show one or more packages that meets their criteria
- Offer a discount if they purchase online in the next 20 mins
- Schedule your wash now button
Clearly there are a lot of possibilities for nearly any business. If this resonates with you, go for it! If you aren’t sure, talk to your team about it, get on the whiteboard, think about it for a bit.
And just so you’d know, if you’d like some help implementing this for your business, feel free to shoot over any questions in the comments below 🙂