B2B SAAS puts pricing on website, salespeople gasp

Us industrial marketers have lots of logistical excuses reasons that we don’t post prices on our websites. I’ve made a valiant effort to discuss it here at B2Blog in the past. Software is a borderless, virtual product, so the bar is a bit lower. And if you are in a very new marketplace, there’s no legacy issues either. So maybe others didn’t notice this post by Steve Woods of Eloqua earlier this month Publicly Available Pricing: Theory and Practice:

“Last week we made the pricing for Eloqua’s software product packages public on our website for the first time: The starting prices range from $1450 to $10,000 per month, depending on the level selected. Just hearing this likely makes everyone who has ever been a field sales rep cringe. Won’t this blow up deals? What if an Enterprise buyer hears of an SMB buyer making a purchase at 1/10th the price? Won’t you be excluded from deals based on the price being seen as too high or too low?”

Yes, salespeople cringe–just read the comments on that posting.

People walk away from products they should really buy. But others bookmark the page and write up their proposal to their boss. Then they come back. And buy! Those that got away might have been too fickle or budget conscious anyway. Good job Eloqua!

  • http://twitter.com/jonmiller2 Jon Miller

    At Marketo, we believe in open pricing and have published our complete price list (not just a portion of it) since the day we launched. I believe this open and transparent policy towards information is a key factor driving our success.

  • http://www.andrewlloydgordon.co.uk/ Andrew Lloyd Gordon

    As you've discussed, pricing is a key part of the conversion process for a B2B buyer. And on many sites I've worked on, we've not included it.

    This was usually when we didn't have a very distinct product or a competitive lead. Or, more often, when price was the area on which we competed with others.

    However, where we were market leader or had a genuine USP, then we could confidently publish our prices safe in the knowledge our customers REALLY wanted to work with us.

    I guess, therefore, whether you publish your prices or not depends also depends on how confident you are in your product.

  • http://twitter.com/InboundMarketer Maria Pergolino

    Jon, When I bought Marketo at my previous company (and prior to joining your team) I did so partly because of the transparent pricing. This was not only important to me because I knew what the price was going to be, but because I knew I was not paying more than other Marketo customers. When I talk to our customers I often hear similar – which I think is a real benefit and likely why other companies are joining in our approach. To see Marketo pricing you can visit: http://www.marketo.com/pricing

  • http://www.facebook.com/b2blog David Jung

    @Jon, sometimes what we do just gets accepted, without any wow factor. But switching directions, that gains attention (thinking of the prodigal son). @Maria, thanks for the first-hand testimonial, and interesting comment about fairness. @Andrew, yep it has to be part of a strategic positioning–the only competitor of ours to post prices is a catalog-based distributor…because listing prices is part of its strategy. Their selection is limited and over-priced.

  • industrialtouchup

    Yowza, Eloqua is expensive. What's in it for their clients?

  • http://jchernov.posterous.com Joe Chernov

    Love the post, Dave, as well as the dialogue it's spurred. Happy to be part of the conversation.

    I think what we're all *really* talking about here is the relationship between the social Web and corporate transparency. The rise in democratized media demands a corresponding fall in corporate walls. The revolution is no longer televised, now it’s “Twitterized.”

    Public pricing is one manifestation of “openness.” There are many others. An association called WorldBlu does a remarkable job at tracking the world’s most transparent companies. It’s definitely worth checking them out.

    From Eloqua’s standpoint, we also opened our customer portal recently. Every company that endeavors to be more transparent should be applauded. But the larger the audience the more complex the decision. In other words, it's one thing to open a community that contains a handful of members, and something else entirely to throw the doors open to one that consists of tens of thousands.

  • http://www.zioninduction.com John Bode

    As a sales guy for an induction heat treater – (JBode@ZScan.com) – we harden or soften metallic parts made by manufacturers (http://www.zioninduction.com). I can appreciate what you are saying. However in our world, our services are based on specific RFQs that we get and our pricing is based on the project itself. Included in our pricing are considerations for the material the part is made of, the quantities on an annual basis and a per batch lot size, the gemoetry of the part itself, where specifically (on the part) it is to be hardened or softened and numerous other variables. So for companies in our industry – we don't have the ability to post pricing like you are mentioning. We put a lot of hard work and emphasis into being an honest reputable company that provides a high quality of workmanship.Not too long ago, companies (prospects) would be interested in hearing about the quality of our workmanship, the value we bring to their organization and how our efforts on past projects have never been the cause of a recall of their parts. But more and more the market place seems to be shifting away from the traditional values of how a company can partner with another to more of an environment of price is king and the lowest price is what gets the most attention.