Should You Provide Pricing Information on a B2B Website?

Providing specific pricing details is de rigueur for B2C eCommerce websites. Most B2B websites don’t provide details because pricing is usually complex based on many variables, combinations, configurations, and other factors specific to each buyer’s circumstances. Competitive exposure is another claimed reason for not publishing prices, but B2B companies already know competitors’ prices from other sources. Pricing is something that prospective buyers always want to know.

The problem is that website visitors and prospective buyers want to know whether a product/service/solution is within their budget range before they consider further exploration. Many B2B companies provide some guidance by indicating applicability by type of business, industry or company size – e.g. solutions for small business, mid-size companies or large enterprises. That’s a good approach, but website visitors still have no real understanding of the price range. There is anecdotal evidence that website visitors will leave to explore alternatives if they can’t get at least some basic understanding of prices.

The question of whether to provide pricing on B2B websites depends on the specific circumstances of a company/product/service/solution and common practices in the market(s) served. It’s also not a binary question. The question is really whether there are ways that B2B websites could provide some pricing information to satisfy the immediate needs for website visitors so that they continue to consider that company/product/service/solution and possibly initiate some follow-up response.

Many B2B websites want their website visitors to initiate contact to get additional information such as pricing, but the majority of website visitors are reticent to do that because they’re not ready to deal with a salesperson yet, nor do they want their contact information in another marketing database. In most cases, B2B website visitors are not looking for precise prices, just a general indication of price ranges relative to their needs.

What should you do?

  • Although providing pricing information on a B2B website may not be an absolute necessity, there are good reasons to investigate whether you should do it and in what manner.
  • If you can provide pricing in a relatively straightforward manner, consider doing it. This is obviously a decision that goes beyond marketing into the entire organization.
  • Don’t publish a complex pricing formula, matrix or calculator. Providing a complicated pricing algorithm might be worse than not providing any pricing.
  • If appropriate, provide a simple calculator for estimating general price ranges.
  • Providing sample prices for typical situations or configurations may be adequate. The key is to provide sufficient samples for website visitors to find one that resembles their requirements and business.
  • Provide an easy mechanism for users to submit basic parameters to request a price estimate which you can turn-around in 24 hours. But don’t ask for a long list of intrusive contact information details to discourage use of the request service.
  • Have a sales support hotline link on the website for providing real-time information based on getting the necessary qualification data.
If you do make any changes for providing pricing information on your B2B website, track response rates before and after to determine the impact of pricing availability.

How to do you handle providing pricing on your B2B website? Have you made any changes and seen any beneficial results? Your comments are always welcome.
Copyright © 2009 The Marketing Mélange and Ingistics LLC. http://marketing.infocat.com

7 comments:

Tony Gonzales, Federal Appliance said...

The question you pose is one that I've contemplated over my 12+ years in the technology industry. As a result, I've personally come to conclude that pricing should NOT be placed on a B2B website.

Over the years I've had the chance to work with and for several technology leaders, and something that I've always positioned is the "value" behind a certain solution. When pricing is simply posted onto a B2B website, it creates the perception of that product as a commodity...something that one would normally buy on an Amazon.com or WalMart.com.

Though companies may be able to track visitors and the web pages they visit (to include the pricing page), the specific individual whose research pertains to the interest in that product is not properly captured...and the question as to how to properly follow-up with such a prospect is left open.

I personally oversee and drive all sales activity for our company Federal Appliance, LLC. Instead of cold calling and trying to shake a lot of hands in the course of one week, we have implemented the use of EchoQuote. EchoQuote is a B2B Lead Generation tool that draws prospects to our website (www.FederalAppliance.com) when they're looking for pricing on an EqualLogic iSCSI SAN. But in order for the client to gain access to product pricing, the client has to enter some basic (and valid) information before proceeding.

Once that information is captured, I have the chance to accept / deny each individual request...but once approved, EchoQuote spits out a list-price quote based on the client's quote request(s). What's more, these are qualified prospects that have already done their homework on EqualLogic, so I'm essentially capturing their information at a time when there is a valid interest in the solution.

We've had this model in place for many years now. I will be honest with you in sharing that a handful of clients feel frustrated by the fact that they have to enter their basic contact information to obtain a quote, but that's all right...those are the prospects that I don't want to deal with. I'd rather take five qualified prospects, over a spreadsheet of twenty companies whose interests are undefined, any day...

Dale Underwood said...

I think it depends on the type of products/services you provide. The main issue is do you need to have your sales team talk with the end-user before they actually purchase the item(s)? If so, I would not recommend publishing pricing because good prospects may misinterpret your offer and simply abandon your site without fully understanding your value proposition.

eschwantler said...

I am working on revamping our product web site and have been thinking about this dilemma. Our software product is commodity and simple pricing model however has significant value proposition so prospective buyer may make incorrect apples vs orange comparison. Do you suggest I provide approx pricing or not?

Mike Frichol said...

Re eschwantler comment:
3 things I would consider in this situation:
1. If it's a commodity buyers have several alternatives, then it seems you should provide some pricing guidance or prices.
2. What are your competitors doing and how competitive are your prices?
3. Can you connect quantitative value prop benefits to support the price?

eschwantler said...

Hi Mike, thanks for prompt feedback.
Yes, buyers have many choices and our product is very competitive especuially when you consider it is s bundled solution ie. includes many software modules that others have as additional components and priced as extra. It is not difficult to also quantify the value for these bundled components.

Red said...

1. Price is an elephant in the room. Everyone is stressed out about it unless the service provider calls it out and diffuses it by being transparent and forthcoming.
2. Consultative selling is more worthwhile for us once we know we have a good client. Seriously... there are not-good clients and I want to avoid long term engagements with them.
3. We tested what happens when we're transparent and it was great; so we did more of that. We've rolled out several dozen fixed fee packages and tell on our site what they cost and how they work. Not only do people buy them, they pre-pay for them. That's my indicator that prospects 'get' our value proposition -- and get that marketing ROI is a ratio.

Eric Schwantler said...

Red, can you point me to an example ie your web site?