August 6, 2012

“Request a Quote” Pricing Model

Dennis O'Donnell

Businesses beware: we are officially in an era where transparency is praised and rewarded, and any business with a standardized service or product with non-standardized pricing obscured behind the banner of “Call us for a free quote” should beware…you’re putting your neck on the chopping block. There is nothing more infuriating than finding some great software, hardware, or other needed item, clicking the “Pricing” tab, and seeing those ugly few words:  “Call us to request a free quote!”  Bleck. Here’s a great example for you:

Request a Quote

Here’s precisely what I do every time I see this message:  I go directly to the competitor who has refreshingly transparent pricing, so that I can evaluate if it’s a product I’m actually interested in.  I’m far more likely to buy their product – it’s a transparent, frictionless experience.  37Signals is a perfect example:

Honest Pricing

I understand there are a few industries where you cannot formulate a standard pricing model (engineering, custom development, etc).  However, I firmly believe these industries are few and far between and are mostly service companies where high customization is present.  For the rest, I’m going to get aggressive here and call it what I think it is: lazy or deceptive.  You don’t want to commit to a price because you haven’t taken the time to calculate your costs and competitive landscape, in which case it’s laziness.  Or, you simply want to maximize the amount you can get on each sale, and haggle to give discounts in order to land clients, which is deceptive.  What if Amazon and Apple had “Call for a quote” on their products?  Would you trust that you’re getting the same price as your peers, or a fair price?  Of course not – it just smacks of sleaziness.

Free QuoteCall for Quote

However, more than either of these things, it’s annoying to your (potential) customers.  Very annoying. I don’t even know your company yet, I haven’t bought your product, I have no loyalty…yet you want me to take time out, pick up the phone, and shoot the breeze with your sales staff?  You’re asking me to make a time commitment in your company – that’s an odd reversal of roles.  If you know what your product is worth, you have a good understanding of your costs, and you basically know what you want to charge the customer, then be up front and disclose this information as transparently as you can.  By doing this you’ll prevent your potentials from at least immediately going to the competition, because sorry, nobody wants to “request a free quote”.  If you’re afraid your pricing isn’t competitive then it’s time to be honest with yourself and either add more value or subtract dollars from the price.  You should be winning business on the merits of your transparent value – not how well you can hide a price until the last minute.  And one last thing: please stop putting “Free Quote”, as though I’m receiving some tremendous value in your quoting prowess.  I’m looking to give you business – if you were even thinking of charging to give me a price, then someone should quote you for a time machine back to the 70’s.

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