B2B Websites: To Publish Prices, Or Not To Publish…That Is The Question

Do you show prices on your B2B website? Have you struggled to answer that question? You are not alone, most business purchases, especially industrial products don’t lend themselves to a simple Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). It becomes even more complicated if you sell through channel partners and there are different pricing structures in place.

This is not a new problem; business marketers have been debating the pros and cons of publishing prices on their websites for several years now. I found a series of blog posts on pricing on your website at Dave Jung’s B2B Blog, some of those articles date back to 2006.

Why do we need prices on B2B websites?

There have been many studies done over the years that indicate that price information is the very reason why most B2B buyers visit a vendor’s website.

The results from three separate studies confirm this:

  1. 61% of engineers surveyed indicated pricing information as one of the primary reasons to visit a vendor’s website. This was second only to downloading product data sheets. (Source: CMP (now United Business Media) Electronics Group’s Global Media Usage Study,  2006)
  2. 74% industrial buyers went looking for prices but only 23% of manufacturers published them on their website. (ThomasNet study, 2006)
  3. For IT solutions in excess of $50,000, the most wanted data in the early stage awareness was price (Source: Joint study done by MarketingSherpa and Enquiro, 2007)

Today, a majority of industrial buying decisions begin online. In order to get on the buyer’s short list as early in the buy cycle as possible, your B2B website needs to provide relevant information that your prospects are looking for. This may include basic pricing information.

Reasons people don’t want to publish prices online

There may be many reasons (excuses?) for not publishing your prices on your website but the most common ones are:

1. We don’t want our competition learning about our prices

2. We want the prospect to contact us for pricing information so we can engage with them further

3. We could have conflicts with our channel partners

4. We can only provide prices after a formal RFQ process

5. We want our sales team to have some flexibility in order to close the sale

I think Anne Holland summed it up nicely in her blog post by writing…

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.

Two options for solving the pricing dilemma

  1. Show a range of prices to help your prospects make an initial budgetary decision.
    You can see an example of B2B web design prices from my company’s online marketing division’s website.
    My web analytics indicate that not all visitors that land on the pricing page also click on  Web design RFQ or Contact Us links. So the pricing page is working to some degree in eliminating prospects who decide strictly on price.
  2. Test if your site visitors really do want pricing information. In other words, measure and prove it!
    Create an online Pricing/Prices page. Then strategically place direct calls to action to it throughout the site.
    Measure the results and use the statistical evidence to determine whether to publish your prices on your website. Dale Underwood of B2B Conversions Now has a step-by-step procedure for this on his blog.

Do you publish prices on your website? If not, what’s stopping you ? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.

3 replies
  1. Argebit.com
    Argebit.com says:

    This is a problem indeed, personally I don’t show prices on our site, since we offer custom ecommerce sites but we are working on building a separate site where to put everything there, including prices and keep the main site as a generic services offer site.

    Reply

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