December 17, 2007
Blog Entry

SherpaBlog: Should You Reveal Pricing Online? Overcoming Fear & Loathing ...

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By Anne Holland, Content Director

If you’re in a services or B-to-B marketplace -- enterprise software, for example -- the last thing you’re probably doing is posting your prices on the company website.

Study after study reveals, however, that pricing information is precisely what prospects visiting your site are looking for:

- A June 2007 MarketingSherpa Study in partnership with Enquiro showed that pricing information was the No. 1 thing executives researching IT solutions in price ranges above $50,000 wanted online during every stage of their decision -- from early awareness and research on.

- CMP Electronics Group’s Global Media Usage Study in 2006 showed similar results. 61% of surveyed engineers said the top reason they went to company websites was to research pricing. Prices were second only in popularity to downloadable data sheets.

- A 2006 ThomasNet study revealed 74% of prospects researching on their site wanted to see manufacturers pricing information there. However, only 23% of manufacturers made their pricing public online.

I understand why you may not put pricing online. Perhaps your sales reps want as much flexibility as possible in negotiations. Maybe you’re concerned making price wars and/or commoditization. Or, perhaps your product managers are convinced pricing is far too complex even for an online calculator to reflect accurately.

Whatever the reason, you need to keep two human factors in mind:

#1. Your competition already knows your pricing because they have to sell against it. There is no secrecy. Frankly, if they don’t, they are so inept at their jobs that you have nothing to fear from them.

#2. Your prospects will find pricing information even without your help. They’ll ask friends at other companies, post queries to industry email discussion groups and boards, ping analysts or surf the Web researching.

The only problem is, you’ve now lost control of your pricing messaging. You can’t surround the conversation with value and branding. You can’t be sure that the correct information is even getting to prospects.

And they’re making those decisions before they agree (or not) to meet with your sales reps. Because pricing information is now sought much higher up in the sales funnel than most marketers suspect.

The good news is that most of your competitors face the same problem. Revealing your pricing -- with all appropriate branding and lead generation flourishes -- can become a competitive advantage for you in 2008.

Happy Holidays!

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