It’s a common marketing question: Should you show your pricing up front, or hold it back until later? Let’s find out what the experts say…
Everyone seems to have an opinion on this topic, and there’s no simple yes or no answer.
Of course it will depend on whether you sell something bespoke where the price differs for each client, or if you sell a product with simple, easily defined, pricing.
We surveyed 24 marketing and sales leaders to find their opinion on whether you should show pricing for high-ticket products and services.
The results may surprise you…
9 of our 24 experts said a definitive “Yes” to showing your pricing up front.
The general consensus is that marketing and sales should cater to the customer first and foremost, and that it’s in the customer’s interest to have as much information as possible to make a decision.
Making your pricing transparent also establishes trust and credibility. If your competitors are showing their pricing but you’re not, it makes it look like you have something to hide.
Our “YES” experts’ detailed responses…
“I feel that publishing the price for high ticket selling items up front should be more common than it is. Full transparency on the cost of an item – no matter what the price point – is just base line information that consumers are looking for when searching products or services online. Hiding or not showing (high) prices/costs only serves to frustrate the customer and slow down their purchasing journey.
The customer wants all of the product/service information provided clearly, conveniently and fast at their finger tips. If they need to send an email to customer service, make a call or head into a retail store to ask the question – the process becomes slow and tedious and in many instances ends right there. It’s all too hard. You’ve lost me.”
“Displaying your high ticket item pricing prominently is a great way to build credibility and trust with a prospect. It helps to build an image that your company is transparent and has nothing to hide. A huge amount of opportunities are lost simply because a prospect may be on your site and anticipates that your pricing will be out of their budget so they don’t both enquiring. If you publish your pricing prominently, it helps to qualify prospects faster because they’ll know whether or not you are relevant to them and they’ll be more likely to get in touch.
If you’d prefer to keep some mystery with you higher tiered products/services, follow the path a lot of SaaS businesses are taking these days where they display their lower tiered product/service pricing but has a “”Contact us”” call to action for their enterprise level services.”
“We sell construction system for a house. Most people come to us to buy ‘a house’. So we tried both strategies, first without pricing. This brought us a significant number of leads, around 10 a day. However, most of them were poor quality. Then we published a configurator. Still a good amount of leads coming in but most people would configure the lowest option (and thus price) possible but had much higher expectations when contacted. Both parties were disappointed. So we worked hard to be able to identify the most accurate price we could and we published it. Now we are getting lower amount of leads, around 5 a week, but those leads are more qualified and our conversion rate went up. I feel transparency is the way to go, if possible of course.”
“- Companies do not have to share the exact prices, but I find it help when companies provide a price range or a minimum price for a project.
– By providing a range, visitors will assess if it is within their budget or not. For the service/product provider, you can assume that majority of website contacts are already aware of your price range and are willing to start a conversation.
“Yes, it should be published. There is no need or time in today’s market for the mystery – if someone really wants the information for inappropriate reasons, they’ll find a way, whether you publish or not. And for those who are seriously interested in your offer, it simplifies the buyer experience and shows respect for their time.”
“You’re going to have to tell your prospect your price or your fee sooner or later. I wouldn’t say there’s a fixed rule. Instead, there’s a principle: You can show your price up front, but only after you’ve delivered enough specific and convincing information to get the prospect to realize the value — before they ever see the number.”
“Everyone always wants to know the price. While for custom services it depends, you can always show some kind of pricing. Like “starting from” pricing or “typical project” pricing. At the very least you get rid of leads who can’t afford you, so you stop wasting time.”
“My view around pricing high value products and services is to show the price if it doesn’t require a custom quote. Why? Firstly it knocks out any people that simply can’t afford it, which means your sales team can focus on the customers you want to attract to your business. Secondly, people aren’t stupid. They may be influenced, but they still need to work within their means. And thirdly, I have seen many examples where setting a visibly higher price can actually lead to more sales. A higher price ‘usually’ indicates better quality, more exclusive, more luxurious – all things a percentage of the population are looking for.”
The “No” Camp
8 of our 24 experts said a resounding “No!” to showing your pricing up front...
The consensus seems to be that high-ticket products and services require education and trust building to demonstrate their value, and plonking your pricing up front will remove this opportunity.
Here’s what are our “NO” experts said…
“No. High ticket products and services require an opportunity to explain value before a price is shown. Showing prices on a site is a sure way to lower quantity, but increase quality of leads. Unless a business is in a position where it just can’t take on/service the high volume of leads it is drawing, a space needs to be facilitated where a conversation around value can happen.”
“No. You need to have a conversation about the value the client gets from your offer. It may be cheap compared to the benefits. But if you don’t do that in person you may find you scare off good potential clients.”
“I’ve seen people do both with success, but the vast majority of high ticket offers I’ve come across are only displayed on the sales page, which is usually delivered to the customer at the tail end of a 1-to-1 conversation or an automated nurturing sequence.
If you want to sell a high ticket offer, you need to build trust. The easiest way to build trust is to talk with someone, learn about their unique situation, and then explain how the offer will solve their specific problems and reach their specific goals. Obviously, this process isn’t infinitely scalable, so if you want to exceed your capacity to do sales calls, you’ll need to build trust via a nurturing sequence that does essentially the same thing, but via copywriting that will resonate with thousands of people instead of just one.”
“No they should not. High ticket items require more work on the client than low ticket ones. A relationship must be built with the prospect in order to move them to the next step. Additionally, high ticket items require greater details and explanation of how the product/ticket will transform the life of the user.”
“We offer services to organisations of diverse sizes. At one end, our lite plan is ideal for a single user but doesn’t include all the customisation, bespoke integrations and functionality a corporate client would expect. Pricing them both on the same page is difficult as they are very different audiences, use cases and requirements. Our rationale for creating a bespoke pricing proposal to potential customers is – it give us the chance to understand their needs and offer a tailored package that suits their requirements and goals.”
“Pricing is the last thing you should be talking about with a prospect. Literally. Save that topic until last, when you have pre-qualified the lead, pre-sold the prospect with education, and gathered some useful data using a diagnostic. It doesn’t matter if you have fixed rates and packages (which is best practice in almost every industry). Take the prospect on a journey, make sure they are the right fit, then introduce the pack that best fits their needs.”
“No – because you want to intrigue people into a conversation.”
“Given you would not want to do this (unless you only sell on price and you are market leader on price!), the real question is “Will I lose prospects for my high-ticket product/service IF I don’t have price on my website?” The answer is no. For larger investments, there will be many selection criteria and cost is just one of them. Many of our B2B clients have products/services starting $100k+, and decisions are made on quality, brand, function, customer service (experience), proof of performance – and in fact price may be at the end of the list. In the B2B world, publishing a high-ticket price in fact devalues your offering and implies people buy it on price. You’re better to draw their attention to your real value proposition.”
The “It Depends” Crew
7 of our 24 experts said that “it’s complicated” when asked whether or not you should make your pricing transparent.
Many believe it comes down to a range of factors including how much value you can demonstrate, and where your customers are in their buyer journey.
Our “It depends” experts said…
“I always follow the principle of, ‘You should never show price until you’ve shown value’ because if you show price first, prospects will likely make a decision there and then. This decision will be based on how much they part with and not the value they receive. Of course, for every principle or rule you can always find exceptions, always. And it does depend on the market, your sales process and how your customer buys.
The other complexity at play is that high ticket items are often customised to suit an individual’s or business’ circumstances which makes publishing prices problematic and can lead to prospects feeling let down, “”But the website said X and now you’re telling me it’s X + Y””. That’s not a great place for a sale to be in.
One final thing is the concept of a bridge too far too soon. When selling low ticket items, it’s easier for a prospect to make a quick decision. Higher ticket items usually require more research and thought by the prospect, so you have to consider if presenting price is a bridge too far too soon. You only ever have to sell someone to the next stage of a process. On a website is that a meeting or consultation, or buy now at a set price? When you answer that, you answer the original question.”
“It depends on their goals and where visitors are in the overall funnel. They should not post the price if the visitors are cold and the goal is to get as many leads into the funnel as possible. Since these visitors are ‘cold’ they’re not ready to commit to a high price yet and need more warming up based on a call with your team.
They should post their price when the leads are warmer such as long-term subscribers or previous buyers and the goal is to limit the number of sales conversations needed. In this case, they can also readily follow-up through their lists whether someone registers for the high ticket offer now or not.”
“Yes or no, depending on the circumstances. $20/mo online invoicing services publish their prices online, but so do auto manufacturers selling $120,000 automobiles. Meanwhile there are business services for $500/mo that don’t publish their prices publicly. If it’s not the amount, whether it’s high or low ticket, what dictates showing or not showing prices upfront?
Often, it’s how complex the product is.
Online invoicing as well as automobiles are the definition of cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all solutions. They may allow customization, but it’s minor.
Building an elite concert hall in a major city, on the other hand, is so highly customized it is literally impossible to share pricing upfront. Gobs of information have to go back and forth just to figure out a rough estimate, and then of course it will cost more and take longer than anyone guessed.
Ultimately only one rule prevails—if it serves the customer for them to know pricing upfront (and sharing it is feasible), then share it. If it doesn’t, then don’t.”
“The answer totally depends on what the business model is, and how the business wants to run.
Showing pricing upfront weeds out tyre kickers and pre qualifies leads which is great, and works well if you have a pre packaged service for a specific niche.
On the flip side if you’re more boutique and need to discuss the specific requirements of the customer, having pricing can be detrimental as the value is only understood by the customer once they realise how you can help (after asking such probing questions).”
“Really depends on the maturity of the solution category your buyers predominantly occupy. In early markets it would be completly the wrong strategy whilst you could build a case for that transparency in mature markets, especially if your were the cost leader in the segment”
Brett Bonser, Revenue Growth Specialist, align.me
“I believe deciding whether to gate or ungate pricing for high-ticket products and services is a matter of preference, expectations, and qualification. On one hand, ungated pricing can reduce the number of inquiries you get, while ensuring the people who do inquire are already at least 25% qualified if you’re qualifying them against the BANT framework, which means Budget, Authority, Needs, and Timeline. On the other hand, it could make your solution look more like a commodity, and it could scare away buyers who have the budget, but don’t see the value or feel like it’s worth the cost. In this case, it’s important to ensure you fully articulate the value, and quantify the cost of them not solving the problem before they see pricing. In conclusion, gated vs ungated pricing for high-ticket solutions can be different for every type of business.”
“I think this comes down to balancing your objectives. If you’re getting a lot of leads who don’t have the budget, then it’s worth showing your pricing up front to dissuade these people. The corollary to this is that you will scare off a percentage of people who might have gone on to buy from you once you demonstrated the value, but who instantly believe it’s too expensive and don’t even go on to have a conversation and consider the value.
So you basically need to measure the cost vs benefit of more (low quality) leads when you don’t show pricing, vs. less leads, but higher quality, when you do show it.”
Where do you stand on making your pricing transparent for high-ticket products and services?
Share your opinion in the comments section below.