To Publish or Not To Publish … Your Prices

Publish open source


Here is a question I received via email.

Hi Mark – you were my instructor at Pragmatic Institute in Vancouver in November 2013. Can you please remind me why you recommended that we keep our pricing on our website? My Sales VP keeps pushing me to take it off :-) and I just needed a bit more support. I recall you saying that if we took it off it could signal that we are too expensive… showing pricing shows transparancy…. Thank you so much!!

What an interesting question. Should you publish your prices or not? Of course it’s never easy. It’s a tradeoff.

Have you ever had the experience where you were interested in a pretty unique product so you went to the company website to check it out? The entire time you’re curious about the price. When you finally decide this product may be a good fit for you, you start searching for the price. After some period of time, you quit searching. Now you have a choice. You can either contact the company (or supply info to have them contact you) so you can ask about price or keep searching for another alternative. Most of the time when this happens to me, I keep searching. I just assume the reason they aren’t showing the price is it’s probably higher than I would expect.

Is this what you want for your products? When you don’t publish prices (or at least have a distribution channel that publishes prices) then many buyers simply keep searching, going to your competition. Many buyers don’t want to talk to salespeople, or even give up their email address or contact information, when just shopping. Here is a simple rule. The easier you are to do business with, the more business you will do. Hiding prices makes it harder for your customers to do business with you.

However, there are some circumstances where not publishing prices is appropriate. You may have conflicting distribution channels, where different channels sell at different prices. You absolutely cannot put a lower price on your web site than the highest channel price. You do not want to compete with your channel.

You sales VP is probably pushing you to take it off for one of two reasons:
1. They are able to sell at higher prices and publishing the price limits them.
2. The “high price” on the website scares off buyers before they get to talk to them.

If it’s #1, one solution would be to raise the list price to the highest anyone pays. Then offer discounts from there. That list price is what we publish on our web site.

If it’s #2, you have to trade off the loss of engagement because the price isn’t published with the loss of engagement because the price is published. My gut tells me that if you are selling to individual buyers and users then you show the price. If you only sell very large deals where a salesperson is expected to be involved, then you may be OK not publishing the price.

photo by OpenSource
Mark Stiving

Mark Stiving

Mark Stiving is chief pricing educator with Impact Pricing LLC. Connect with him on LinkedIn

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