Should you list your prices on your website?

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Because I am sick today and feeling extra snarky, part of me wants to just write YES and have that be the end of that. But it probably makes more sense to actually explain why I believe the answer to this question of listing the price of your packages is (almost) always yes, so that you can see where I’m coming from and make your own decision based on what makes sense for your business.

Let’s use a real-life example to help illustrate this:

You’re in New York City, wandering the shops, browsing the wares, as they say. You wander into a store you haven’t seen before, and immediately love the vibe – minimal, well decorated, modern. You find a sweater that you absolutely love – the color is perfect, the material is soft enough for your sensitive skin, and the detailing is impeccable – cute buttons running down the back, cuffs on the sleeves that give it a slightly more dressy feel – it’s just awesome. You go to check the price, and there’s no tag. So you grab another one off the rack, and again, no tag. Then you check the jeans on the shelf next to you – no tag. Oh. It’s one of those places you think to yourself. Naturally, you assume that you can’t afford anything in the damn store, so you don’t even bother trying on the sweater, you slowly back away from the store, and go sulking back to H&M, the magical place where nothing fits quite right, but everything is affordable.

This is what happens when your clients come to your website and don’t see prices. They naturally assume you’re too expensive, and they move along.

 

If you can’t be bothered to tell people how much your service is, expect them to expect the worst.

 

And if you’re running a business that isn’t actually that high-end, this means you will be losing a LOT of clients to assumptions. Which I shouldn’t have to tell you  is no good for business. I also feel like there’s an element of not being confident in your prices that comes into play when you don’t want to list them, but we’ll save that discussion for another post.

But I want to have sales conversations with people first

The argument I always hear to this is “But I want to get clients on the phone first to have a conversation with them before I tell them the price – I want to be able to show them the true value of the service”… to which I say — did you try on the sweater? No. You assumed it was too much and you walked away before getting your hopes up.

You may get a few people who are so obsessed with what you do that they will email you to hop on the phone with you and have that conversation, but a good portion of them won’t even bother contacting you. And of the ones who do, many will not be able to afford it (and it doesn’t matter what your price is — you will always get people who say it’s too much for them).

 

Out of courtesy to your clients (and your) time, I always advocate being upfront about what your services cost, so you don’t end up in highly awkward situations.

 

You know what I mean – where you enroll someone into a phone conversation, you go through the whole ordeal “What are you struggling with? What do you really what? How would it feel to finally have it? How much is that worth to you” — barf — and then having to do the awkward “Here’s how much it is” while waiting with baited breath to see if they are going to hang up on you or still be interested. If you’re a new business owners, putting your prices out there is hard enough, don’t make it even more uncomfortable for yourself! You’ll also save yourself a whole lot of time by not getting on the phone with people who either aren’t serious or can’t afford it.

And further, don’t put your clients in a position to have to feel like total assholes because they hopped on a call with you but can’t actually afford you and now they have to awkwardly come up with creative reasons and excuses on the spot as to why it’s just not the right time, or how they will “think about it” (we all know what that means) — when really they just want to curl up and die because now they feel like dicks that wasted your time and on top of that, they feel deflated because they need help and here’s yet another glimpse of hope that just got crushed.

You can avoid ALL of that by listing your prices on your website. AND, you can still enroll potential clients in sales conversations if they are interested (where you can have straight up conversations about price and value, because your clients are prepared with a number in mind), but at least you’re both going into the conversation knowing what the expectations are.  You will get more engaged clients in your consults, higher conversions, and have less awkward conversations if you ONLY speak with people who have seen your offer, and the price, and are still on board to talk.

The exception – when it’s ok to NOT list your prices

I have found very few exceptions to this pricing thing, but the one that does come to mind is if you are creating a very high-end, upscale, VIP style something. Maybe it’s a retreat, or a coaching package, or an in-person VIP day… Whatever it is, you intend for it to be exclusive, limited, and coveted. And your clients expect (and want!) that too. They love feeling like high-flyers as they fill out your application and anxiously wait your reply (because you don’t take just anyone for this coveted thing). They expect it to come with an appropriately high price tag. It’s part of the appeal for them (yes, these people do exist and no, not many of our target markets are these clients). If I had to put a number to it, I’d say anything over $10k would qualify as exclusive and high-end, and it would be ok in this instance not to list your prices.

What about if my prices are in a range and I need to send custom quotes?

A great question, especially for designers, developers, copywriters, and anyone doing custom work for their clients. In this case, I recommend listing a “Starting at” price for each of your services. Even within these industries, there is a HUGE range in pricing – I have hired web designers for $200 and for $12k. And if I land on someone’s site, I want a ballpark number of what I can expect. Having a “starting at” price listed on your site helps clients see if they are a fit for what you offer, and then you can absolutely get on the phone with them from there and help give them a more customized quote based on their needs.

My vote? Always list your prices

The gist? List your prices and make it easier on yourself and your clients. I know for myself, I’m the type of person that has to let prices sink in. At first glance something might feel out of reach, but the more I let it sit, the more I start to be ok with the number (no matter how high), until saying it in my head just feels normal. I convince myself it’s worth it and I usually end up buying, even if at first glace it was a “are you kidding me?” kind of reaction. But if I never see the price, that whole process gets shut down before it even gets started, and I likely forget all about the thing, because I assume it’s WAY out of my range.

If I know the price of the sweater when I try it on, something in my brain says “That’s a lot, but let’s check this out and see if it’s worth it”… which is hell of a lot better than never having the chance to try it on.

 

xx becca

P.S. If you’re still having trouble figuring out what sell and how much to charge, let alone whether to list prices, checkout Hey, Nice Package! for help turning your many ideas into killer packages and services (that you’ll be ecstatic to list on your site!)

Comments

comments

Read 28 Comments & Leave Yours

  1. Diana

    You are spot on! I always get frustrated when I go to a website and there isn’t a costing. I do wonder what do they have to hide or it must be expensive so I have actually never called that particular coach I must say. I’m all about transparency and what the costing will include so there aren’t any surprises. It also helps for budgeting purposes. I can say I’ll work with that coach next year when I have put aside x amount of dollars. It’s about trusting you will attract the right client and that right client will have the money to pay you. Thanks for the validation that I am on the right track when it comes to displaying my prices.

  2. Mo Cleary

    Everything you have said here very much resonates here. I would add two things. One, the prices do not have to be written in stone forever, you can always change them of you chose. Two, be bold and post prices that fit the market and your level of experience certainly but also reflect the value you bring to the work that you do.

  3. Hells Yeah!

  4. Rebecca Tracey

    Yessss The budgeting is something I forgot to mention in the post – sometimes people need time to save and if they know the price they may be doing that behind the scenes without you even knowing it!

  5. Rebecca Tracey

    Thanks for bringing up the point that they can change – absolutely true, and luckily it literally just takes the tap of a button to change them, so no pressure to find the perfect price right away!

  6. Sandra Moore

    Great writing Becca. I love the story you told, it’s a perfect metaphor, and it allowed me to seamlessly translate the message you convey about pricing. You covered it all!

  7. Spot on post, and so what I needed as I am in a website redesign. What you said about letting a price sink into your head really rang true to me….because I experience that myself too. Sometimes the first look at a price just bowls me over, but over time, and possibly seeing other options, it often takes hold and I see it as more reasonable. Love your writing style, also. Here’s healthy vibes for your cold to end quickly. Have you tried Zicam to shorten the misery?

  8. Great advice! I was struggling with this one. Will add my pricing to my site!

  9. I so agree, and I find it refreshing to see someone have a level-headed approach to this. Your shopping example is a perfect analogy- and totally the thing I do when I don’t see prices on someone’s site!

  10. I completely agree Becca:) I always advise my clients to display their pricing. Where did this idea start, that keeping your prices a mystery is a good thing? I think it makes people feel super vulnerable and the goal of an effective sales page is to minimize vulnerability as potential clients begin their decision-making process:) Feel better! xo – Deana

  11. Rebecca Tracey

    Thanks Sandra!!

  12. Rebecca Tracey

    Thanks Jul’s! Yeah I do it all the time.. I don’t buy something but then it sits with me for days, and I cant stop thinking about it, so I inevitably go back, even if it felt too expensive the first time around!

  13. Love love love this, thank you. I hate the mindset that “if you value it, you’ll find a way to pay for it”. This assumes that when people don’t buy a product, they’re using that money instead for 80$ nights out or 200$ pairs of jeans. It’s classist to assume this – some of us actually can’t afford things. I’m unemployed due to illness and no matter how awesome a 1000$ course is, I’m not taking money from medical costs for that, you know? But if something is 40$ I may be able to make it work. Yes value matters to a point, but there are limits. We’re all adults, just tell me the price and don’t play games you know? Lol sorry, apparently I feel very passionate about this.

  14. Rebecca Tracey

    I think it started back when coaching was a very new industry, and people didn’t understand the value of it… but I still think that’s a wonky marketing strategy, as it makes way more sense to market to people who do know the value and who are looking specifically for help with what you offer. I think it’s an old-hat coaching business model that may work for some businesses, but overall not a great strategy.

  15. Rebecca Tracey

    PREACH!!!

  16. LOVE it! I am so tired of those guru “enrollment conversation” thing, or the “charge you are worth” means you are going to “guilt” people into paying you thousands of dollars that they don’t have thing.
    These days I would only explore a service/program only if the coach/mentor/vendor is upfront about the cost – I want to know what I am getting into, and I don’t want to waste my time on a conversation that leads nowhere.
    I think it’s more that just numbers, or dollars and cents. It is the transparency I am looking for.
    I would never “guilt” or pressure anyone to work with me – in fact, I take away the whole “fast action discount” thing because I am sick of those fake urgency. I don’t like being pressured, and I don’t want to do it to others. I would rather turn a client away, or customize a smaller scope, so s/he doesn’t go into stress and debt in order to work with me.

  17. Cat

    I like this post!
    I am soooooooo annoyed with flipping 5-10 pages of reasons WHY I want the damn service without knowing if it fits my budget!!!

  18. Cat

    I agree with you Ling.
    Mostly when you offer a service that is suppose to HELP someone.
    Pressure & guilt trip is not what your clients need unless you treat them like children.. which I dislike very much.

  19. Pam

    THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for this post. I just updated my site and it feels SO liberating!

  20. Amanda

    Couldn’t agree more! Back when I didn’t list my prices (hey, I’m a dietitian… it’s pretty common practice to NOT list prices in my industry), I remember one call I had with a potential client who had absolutely ridiculous expectations in terms of what she’d get for her $$. She thought that she could get 3 sessions, e-mail support, + the specialized blood testing that I use to help customize nutrition recs/eating plans for just a couple hundred bucks (the testing alone is worth 5x that). I learned my lesson after that call.

    After I started listing my prices, I’ve had a much better conversion rate (and a lot less time spent on the phone with people who aren’t in the position to pay up). I also feel like having the price listed helps the initial conversation go more smoothly – I don’t have to worry about how to bring up cost (so I can focus more on what their needs are and whether we’re a good fit) and I feel like they leave the conversation feeling good about handing over their $$ ;) (no sleazy sales tactics needed… ewww). Win-win.

  21. Wenda

    You really hit your stride with this one, Becca! Exactly the right advice and really rings of your perfect pitch. Well-organized and spoke to my questions and a few I didn’t realize I did need the answer to (quoting pricing ranges on my website).

  22. Jennifer

    Thank you for this article! I remember starting my business and actually feeling nauseous after posting my prices on my website because I was so nervous. I felt so naked. But then I got on one of those “let me teach you how to run your business” calls and they were recommending not posting prices on your website so you could have that conversation with your client and show them your worth before they saw the number And that just felt kind of shady to me… almost like I would be baiting them?

    So, even though posting my prices made me so nervous I almost puked – it felt way better than being all sneaky and keeping it a surprise till the end.

  23. Amanda

    I LOVED this! I’ve been struggling with getting ideal clients, and the wasted time trying to explain my value is exhausting. My husband is one of those people that needs to process, wants to budget, and does research before making a decision. I cannot believe it didn’t dawn on me that *I* may be the type of business that he would never hire!

    So thank you. The wake up call was needed. :)

  24. Samantha

    Great post! It can be so frustrating to go to a site, love the product or service, but have no idea if you can afford it. Even if I’m interested, I’m not going to call or email to get pricing, because I automatically assume I can’t afford it.

  25. Lisa

    Thank you for this post I’ve been hemming and hawing for a couple weeks now about this very topic and Ihave been worried that I would scare away potentials if I told the truth too soon before I had tried to “convince” them of my value over the phone or in person. I love the sweater metaphor. Thanks again!

  26. Cary

    Wendy Brandes’, one of my very favourite bloggers/entrepreneurs, website really illustrates your point about listing prices except when you have a very high end product. She designs and manufactures jewellery for various price points. The really one of a kind pieces don’t have a price, and I’m guessing they’d be upwards of $25k.

  27. Jessica

    Yes! I hate it when I see coaches saying you don’t value yourself if you’re not willing to drop a bomb of money on a program, it doesn’t work like that, this approach eliminates clients that really could use a hug and a helping hand, and it’s not why I got into the profession. I have a wonderful friend who combines coaching with herbalism and I love her business model because she offers a multitude of options – sliding scale sessions as well as fixed-price investments, and I think even her online course is ‘pay what you can.’

  28. Lana, I’m so happy you enjoyed the challah! I know what you mean, when the challah is baking it seems like my whole family is chomping at the bit to have a taste. Shana tova to you and yours.