One of the most controversial decisions for almost any business owner is whether to post pricing information on their website. Traditionally, business owners have been inclined to keep this information off their websites – but is this a fundamental error?
Remember, you can find almost anything online these days and we have grown accustomed to accomplishing any task we want on the Internet - we expect to find the information we need in seconds. We can be fickle too - when that information isn’t available, we move on elsewhere. We also grow suspicious and start having doubts if the information we require is hidden from view.
Unless you're a B2C company with very specific prices for your products or services, you have probably struggled with (and had several discussions about) the question of making your prices public.
For B2B's there are also plenty of good reasons to do so and also some pretty good reasons not to. Why is this the case even though it’s perhaps one of the most important pieces of data in the buying cycle? You can bet your bottom dollar, if there's one thing that every buyer wants to know, it's "how much will I have to pay?" Perhaps you should think again about whether to make your prices easily accessible.
Why are businesses so reluctant to put prices on their website? Let's review here the pros and cons so you can make an informed decision on whether to publish your prices.
Reasons (or excuses) not to publish your prices
1. “It’s not done in our industry”
2. “What happens if my competitors see the information?”
It makes it easy for competitors to “undercut” and gives them a look at your cost structure.
3. “All our pricing is customised, nothing is standard”
If you are selling complex systems or tailored services a fixed price can become a detriment, requiring you to back-track on price when customers require a special solution.
4. "The price will drive potential customers away".
5. You're not sure what to charge:
This one can be a killer!! If your pricing is constantly fluctuating you risk alienating potential customers. They might wonder if the value of your products or services is also fluctuating.
6. You'll miss out on dialogue with potential customers.
7. Potential buyers will not call to enquire about your services.
You'll miss the chance to engage them in a conversation that could lead to a sale.
8. There's no room for negotiation.
Some good reasons to publish your prices
1. To be part of the price conversation
Any buyer is trained to search for price as part of the purchase decision. They will continue to search until they find a price. If it’s not on your site, you are not part of the price dialogue.
2. To be ahead of the competition
Not having prices on your website gives an advantage to the opposition - or worse, someone not even affiliated with your industry could get control of this crucial aspect of the buying decision. Try blogging about your prices; the goal is to own the price and value dialogue of your product or service, to provide researchers with the context they need to understand your pricing model.
Use testimonials that refer to the value of your product or service. Quotes from satisfied clients or buyers who shopped around and decided to purchase your product or service is a powerful strategy. Remember, there is an innate sense from buyers that the low cost provider is never the best, and there is more assumed value in a higher priced product.
You could try listing the prices of other providers alongside yours - you can name them “Competitor 1” and "Competitor 2” and detail what is provided in your pricing versus the competition.
Reference the features you and your competitors provide and accompany this information with actual consumer benefits, too, like support or quality. Price is just one factor in an overall "buy" decision. More important are value, quality, service, reputation and relationship. Concentrate on those and you will gain market share.
3. To reveal actual results
Use a "before and after" example. Instead of simply listing prices on your site, use it as an opportunity to address anticipated buyer reactions like 'sticker shock', turning those research experiences into sales opportunities.
4. To extend SEO Opportunities
Check out the terms and phrases in your industry related to "cost" and "price," and invariably you'll uncover some huge content opportunities. You can gather easy SEO wins by creating a pricing page and optimising for these terms. Which is especially helpful if you own an ecommerce store.
Try including free offers to capture that traffic and engage them in a sales conversation. This strategy works alongside another viable strategy for the really price-averse out there, i.e. putting detailed pricing information behind a landing page to make the exchange of this valuable information more controlled.
5. To provide transparency
Hugely important this one! Consumers are used to seeing (and expecting) transparent pricing information. When your prices aren’t listed, potential clients may get scared. They’ll move to another website because they will (rightly or wrongly) assume you’re too expensive. Or, they’ll think something is “wrong.”
Potential clients want to know what they’re going to pay (and can they afford it?) before they consider making a purchase. If they have even the slightest fear that you’re too expensive, they won’t take it further. By being transparent with your pricing you’ll know the people who are contacting you are serious about your services.
There are several tactics you can employ to offset the fear that a visitor will arrive at your pricing page and go into meltdown!! You need to support your pricing model with a solid value statement.
What do your customers get in return for your prices and how do they benefit compared to competitor offerings? Don't just publish this information, make it part of your sales pitch. Address your customers' objections before they even ask you about them, and before the sale has gone to a competitor.
If your prices change from project to project, you can just say, “Prices start from £X - contact us for an exact quote.” By doing this you’re giving potential clients an idea of your pricing structure. You’re being transparent about your services from the start and that’s the most important thing - what better way to build great relationships with clients than to lay it all on the table from day one?
6. A higher price = higher quality
We subconsciously associate a higher price with higher quality. This is why pricing is so important in building your credibility and reputation. When you publish your prices and explain the concrete reasons why your client should pay more than for competitor X, you’re subconsciously conveying your value.
The Internet is a huge, fluid marketplace that enables all of us to search, compare and find the best deal, whatever we are seeking. Publishing your prices is making a statement about the value of your product or service.
If you can save your ideal client the extra effort of having to ask for your prices you not only save both of you time, you’re also a step ahead in establishing trust – and that's priceless! We've made our own excuses in the past for not displaying our prices. In 2016 the excuses end!
- Harvard Business Review on Pricing, November 2008.
- Pricing for Profit: How to Develop a Powerful Pricing Strategy for Your Business, Peter Hill 2013.
- So Why Do I Care? Management, Marketing and Innovation Insights for a Changing World, Tom Coughlan 2006.
- Pricing Strategy: Tactics and Strategies for Pricing with Confidence, Warren D. Hamilton 2014.