Should B2B companies put pricing on their websites?

There’s a raging debate going on about whether or not B2B companies should put pricing on their websites. Proponents like Jakob Nielsen argue that customers need to “understand the nature” of an offer and a B2B Quote Tool helps with that. Opponents counter with the point that putting price on a website actually reduces the effectiveness of the site. Instead of taking sides I’ve decided to examine some of the detailed issues that B2B marketers may want to consider. Below is a list of reasons B2B companies shouldn’t publicly publish pricing. Some are only perceived but others are real. What do you think?

Issue 1) The vendor can’t identify the visitor (it may be a competitor and we don’t want them to get our pricing)

This falls into the “perceived issue” category because your competitor probably already has your basic pricing. If you have a GSA Schedule with the Federal Government then your GSA pricing is already publicly displayed on GSAAdvantage.

Issue 2) Different customers/dealers get different pricing levels

This is a legitimate issue especially with a vendor that sells its products through indirect sales channels. A single SKU (item) may have 20 different prices. Examples: Basic LIST price, Government GSA price, Educational price, Non-profit price, Registered VAR, Un-registered VAR, etc. There may be special Large integrator contracts with the likes of Lockheed, Northrop Grumman, EDS, etc…all have special pricing.

Issue 3) Displaying pricing would allow the visitor to avoid the sales team.

If price were the last thing the visitor needed then this is true. However, the answer is deeper than that. For an existing customer that already knows everything they need to know about the solution then there should be a way to easily request budgetary pricing while tying in the sales team. Don’t put your customers through voice-mail hell. For visitors in the research phase of a project, they may not fully understand the benefits of the offer/product and could draw an incorrect conclusion about the price. Once again there is an opportunity to notify the sales team that a prospect has requested pricing…in real time. The sales team can then do what it does best, position it’s value proposition.


Issue 4) Complex product sets are difficult to configure.

This is a real problem because to get an idea of what a “solution” costs may involve multiple components. Once again, you can solve this using a “sample” solution approach. It is a simple way to have a visitor request the “X250 package”. The visitor is shown packages of products or services with a detailed description. Of course the packages will not be exactly what a specific customer may want, but if they are just trying to get a ballpark idea of whether they should consider your company on their short list, it will be all they need.

Issue 5) The website is generally owned by marketing which has limited IT staff.

The IT staff of most vendors is concentrated on the product itself, not the website. To solve all of these issues would take some concentrated development time so that is why outsourcing it makes sense. To simplify the implementation of a budgetary quote tool, one could use a third party tool like EchoQuote.